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TOTD 25 Jun 2002

If you look at the world as a whole, we have to admit life's good here where we live. But in an evil Twilight Zone kind of way there's nothing else to choose. In the old days there was always a bohemia or a creative underworld to join if the mainstream life wasn't your bag-or a life of crime, or even religion. And now there's only the system. All other options have evaporated. For most people it's the System or what... death? There's nothing. There's no way out now.

-Douglas Coupland

Whether the instinct for freedom is real or not, we do not know. If it is, history teaches us that it can be dulled, but has yet to be killed. The courage and dedication of people struggling for freedom, their willingness to confront extreme state terror and violence, are often remarkable. There has been a slow growth of consciousness over many years, and goals have been achieved that were considered utopian or scarcely be contemplated in earlier eras. An inveterate optimist can point to this record and express the hope that with the new decade, and soon with a new century, humanity may be able to overcome some of its social maladies; others might draw a different lesson from recent history. It is hard to see rational grounds for affirming one or the other perspective. As in the case of many natural beliefs that guide our lives, we can do no better than to choose according to our institutions and hopes. The consequences of such a choice are not obscure. By denying the instinct for freedom we will only prove that humans are a lethal mutation, an evolutionary dead end; by nurturing it, if it is real, we may find ways to deal with dreadful human tragedies and problems that are awesome in scale.

-Noam Chomsky


( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 25th, 2002 09:44 am (UTC)
It does seem there's no way out anymore. That's an awful feeling.

Chomsky left out one possible outcome, I think... one can nurture the instinct for freedom in such a way that the maladies increase, too. It seems to me that's a very common situation at this moment in history.
Jun. 25th, 2002 01:21 pm (UTC)
Interesting notion
one can nurture the instinct for freedom in such a way that the maladies increase, too.

What examples of this dynamic do you have in mind?

I wonder what rules of thumb we could employ to distinguish between maladies that increase because we nutured an instinct for freedom and maladies that increase in spite of our nurturing an instinct for freedom?
Jun. 26th, 2002 04:33 am (UTC)
Re: Interesting notion
The example that springs to mind is what's happening in Palestine. Ostensibly, the people there are fighting for their freedom and such a vision is being nurtured by Arafat. In this case the nurturingof freedom has resulted in an ever-escalating cycle of violence, and the people who want freedom aren't getting closer to it while bearing the brunt of the maladies.
Jun. 26th, 2002 09:00 am (UTC)
Re: Interesting notion

If you asked me to describe the ways in which Arafat plays to his constituents in order to maintain his own power, I would never have described his tactics as "nurturing an instinct for freedom." Quite the contrary, I think he "nurtures" (that is "plays to" and "exploits") the Palestinian sense of victimhood.

Words mean different things to different people, but viewed through my context window, Arafat's tactics of scapegoating Jews and Americans for all Palestinian, Arab, and/or Islamic woes constitutes the exact opposite of nurturing and instinct for freedom. And please don't conclude from my remarks that I'm any kind of fan of the Israeli government. I see terrorist actions coming from both sides in that conflict. I think bulldozing someone's home or the orchard that feeds them counts as terrorism just as much as a suicide bombing.
Jun. 25th, 2002 10:27 am (UTC)
The Chomsky quote illustrates really well the need to put positive energies out there.

Building, creating, communicating. We, as individuals and as a species, have achieved wonderful things, and can achieve more. No one said evolution was easy or inevitable. We could easily hit the end of the road tomorrow. But we keep going....

Good to see you posting again, by the way. :)
Jun. 25th, 2002 01:26 pm (UTC)
Yeah, it seems like a race...
between our drive to increase our numbers/deplete our life support resourses and our drive to wrap our collective intelligence around the challenges that face us and make the necessary changes to our approaches and priorities.

I'm betting on intelligence an awareness of abundance. I see no advantage in betting on short-sightedness and a psychology of scarcity and lack.
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )

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