Musings on Politics & Policy

An attempt to take an open minded view of current topics,
strip away excess detail and arguments,
and get at underlying issues —

Thursday, December 30, 2004


We have become a divisive nation. Our politics have become an arena of negative campaigns, slanted or untruthful descriptions of opponents, and cheap one liners. Opposing sides are often unable or unwilling to openly and intelligently discuss alternative points of view. The victims are the voters, who end up misinformed, their votes based on half truths sold to them by the highest bidders.

One of the last lessons Jesus taught was humility. Before his last Passover meal, he removed his cloak that designated him as a teacher, took up a basin and towel, and washed the feet of his disciples.

Today, there are too many who think they are so right that anything they do to further their cause is also right. Their feelings of superiority are a form of hubris that almost invariably leads to some form of downfall or tragedy. The partisan effort to impeach President Clinton led to the downfall of leading Republicans when the hypocrisy of their criticisms was revealed. Most recently, Bernard Kerik backed out as nominee for Homeland Security secretary when it was discovered that he had not applied the same laws to himself that he would be required to enforce [Newsday].

A good scientist must also be a professional skeptic. Scientific knowledge is a structure built of theories based on evidence. In principle, any theory can be overturned by further evidence and observation. Einstein's Theory of Relativity was deemed "proven" in 1919 when British astronomers observed starlight being bent around the sun during a solar eclipse as the theory predicted. This year, 2004, further "proof" was accumulated with the observation, by the Gravity Probe B satellite, of gravity distortion around the spinning earth, also predicted by the theory. The pursuit of science is a constant balance of triumphs and doubt, and the best science requires a mind that is always open to alternatives.

In religious life, in civic life, and in scientific pursuit — respect for others, humility, and open mindedness are virtues. Failure to keep these in mind leads to hubris and eventual downfall, whether it is a loss of faith when one is found to be lying, a loss of office or power when one is found to be hypocritical, or a loss of national position in the world when we as a nation are found to repeatedly disrespect and misunderstand other cultures and religions. If we are to successfully strive for a better future, we must change the culture of hubris that pervades our nation.



Blogger Nathan Frampton said...

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You may want to check out my blog "Framptonia" at . I have a few contributors and there are some great discussions.

You may also want to try blog explosion to get more readers on your blog. I have a blog explosion link on my blog if you are interested.

December 30, 2004 at 11:10 PM  

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