Friday, March 16, 2012

America's Legacy and Future Opportunity

I like to think we as a people are still the beacon of opportunity for the world. The positive perspective other peoples have for the United States ebbs and flows in cycles. America has never lost the shiny sheen the world looks for, the opportunity and ability to inspire hope and dreams.

People forget what America has and continues to contribute to the world. That the majority of people’s lives have improved because of what has happened in America, what has emanated from America and it’s people, our ideals and economic expansion.

People further forget that it was America which worked hard to improve the lives of others living under colonial rule. A recent example is the Atlantic Charter (1941) where by agreeing to help Britain in WWII America outlined a future after WWII without colonization and a rule of law derived from the people as set forth by an American example.

As has often been the case; sometimes it takes a defining moment for a people's will to be brought forth and a change made.

I believe we live in such a moment and we are experiencing the last gasps of the old industrial and class world trying to retain its economic and mental grasp on the world's populace. We stand in front of future knowing we live in a meritocracy where education is the limiting factor to increased opportunity.

We are ready to evolve, due in part to people in technology, science and freethinkers. This change did not happen because of religion or state sponsored enterprise. While the state spending on military projects brought the computer, people engaged in business created the marketplace of technology we now see. With the technology of today and enhanced technology of the future we will have more opportunity. The entry to opportunity will be at a lower cost and more easily accessible. One's education can be freely available and thoughts more easily transmitted, understood faster and with greater acceptance.

In my opinion, now is truly a momentous time for humanity, democratic republics, capitalistic societies and the world. We stand at the precipice of the uncertain future with greater opportunity for more people and a better lifestyle for most people than ever before in history. People, technology and will to do more without the control of big corporations or the investor class controlling as they have in the past.

I know it sounds jingoistic and sappy. I just cannot help but be bullish and optimistic for our future and that of the world. I hope my optimism is contagious.

For further reading on the Atlantic Charter:

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Three Events Which Slowed Progress

I was talking about history last night with a friend. I was telling him about the Golden Age of Islam and how it ended.

At one time Islam was open, tolerant and intellectual. This was prior to Imam al-Ghazzali (1058-1111) who started a movement based on theology which eventually would end the period of scientific discovery or the Golden Age of Islam. This age of enlightenment, literature, culture, mathematics, astronomy, medical advances and public education; this was enjoyed in much of the Islamic world. This age would span almost 400 years then end abruptly with the sacking of Baghdad.

Imam al-Ghazzali was so influential he successfully changed the course of Islamic philosophy. His book "The Incoherence of Philosophers" successfully refuted logic and reason used in the past by stating that those who employed Greek intellectual methods and ideas were corrupting the Islamic faith.

One has to wonder about three events in history which slowed intellectual discovery:

  1. Sacking of Rome by Alaric and the Visigoths in 410ce 
  2. Theodosius' decree, Christians sack Library of Alexandria. They then strip, murder and flay Hypatia in 415ce 
  3. Sack of Baghdad 1258ce by the Mongols 

All three examples show us a society, culture and intellect taken down by ignorance and fear. Imagine how much more advanced we would be as a people had these three events not occurred.

In Rome alone, they had running water, flushing toilets, heated houses through radiant floor heat and hot water when needed. These are just a few examples of what was lost.

It would take over 1000 years to get some of that back for the rich people in society. It would take until post WWII for the majority of Americans to have that level of lifestyle.

It would be a shame to get set back again because of religious fanaticism and ignorance. Maybe it is time for reasonable people to start confronting those who use Fox talking points and loud talk instead of tolerance, reason and facts.

America's future is cemented in its educational system and the sciences. Our economy, culture and lifestyle depend on a future with a foundation in intellect, creative thought, arts, math and the sciences.