Columbus’ voyage brought the civilizations of Eurasia and America into contact and inevitable conflict, resulting in profound and permanent changes to both. The internet has done the same to my world view. It is impossible to remain unaffected by developments in any part of the world.
It was still possible for the previous generation to maintain a certain insularity of mindset or world view. As Tevye observed about his Orthodox neighbors in his village, “We don’t bother them, and (so far), they don’t bother us.” It was a pleasant fiction, right up to the beginning of the pogrom. In my youth, we could sit in our cocoon of complacency secure in the knowledge that we had knowledge of the only grace and truth, and that we would be protected and justified when the benighted folks of the great outer darkness succeeded in bringing judgment down upon themselves. In a sense, my Sparta was as isolated as Tevye’s Anatevka. (If you have never watched “Fiddler on the Roof,” do yourself a favor and hit Netflix, ASAP.)
Even after literacy (or what passed for it), reared its head in our Eden, we were still able to create out little intellectual monasteries. The local library’s collections were mostly venerable but unworn classics, dog-eared light fiction, and shelves of Reader’s Digest Condensed Books. Periodicals were few and carefully chosen to reinforce our world view and bias. When I went off to Cow Collitch, my association was limited to the Baptist Student Union and the boys on 1st floor north Smith Hall. I guess I didn’t get out much.
The internet has changed all that. Lacking a determined effort to remain ignorant, we are treated to a cacophony of aggrieved groups; competing economic interests; clashing economic, social, religious theorists; and (of course) political rhetoric. The more I listen, the more confused I get. Developments in recent weeks do inspire a few observations, however.
“Dead flies cause the ointment of the apothecary to send forth a stinking savor: so doth a little folly him that is in reputation for wisdom and honor.” So they taught me at Amity Baptist, and so illustrated by the controversy over the administration of UM. Apparently, you can have extensive education and noble qualities in spades, but be blind to facts that the humblest working man knows, viz., you cannot ignore specific instructions of your boss and expect to keep your job. In a related matter, I suppose students “demonstrating” about things they don’t understand is a time-honored tradition (like panty raids), but letting the monkeys run the zoo is detrimental to the interests of both monkey and zoo.
Munich has been invoked to describe the negotiated agreement between the US and Iran. In the Munich Agreement, the Allies let Hitler have what he wanted in Czechoslovakia in return for his agreement that he would be good and not invade any other country. We have apparently agreed to relax our sanctions on Iran designed to delay their building a nuclear weapon with the expressed objective of destroying Israel in return for…but wait, Iran still claims its right to such weapon and promises to destroy Israel. Is this a “negotiated settlement”, or a unilateral concession on the part of the U.S.?
I am among the first to concede that Truman may have jumped the gun in recognizing Israel, and that guilt of ignoring the holocaust may have prevented cooler heads from saying, “Now wait, is this really a practical idea?” Nevertheless, Israel is established and functioning, democratic (sort of), and de facto secular. I know… it’s officially Jewish, but in a ceremonial and cultural sense that serves as mortar to bind the various blocs of Israeli society in a common mass. It is legal to be Muslim, Christian or atheist. Want to try being openly Christian, Jew, Sunni Muslim, or atheist in Iran? P.J. O’Rourke famously compared giving money and power to government to “giving whiskey and the car keys to teenage boys.” I think the metaphor is apt for allowing nuclear weapons to theocratic despots who subscribe to millennial fantasies. WW I was a result of armed nations blundering into overreaction to the actions of a fanatic. What are the nuclear powers going to do when the mushroom clouds appear over Tel Aviv and Tehran? Can you say, “World-wide nuclear holocaust?”
I’m almost 68 years old. I really shouldn’t care . . . but I have grandchildren.
Sonny Scott is a Chickasaw County resident and a community columnist for the Chickasaw Journal. Contact him at email@example.com.