Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Bill Gets Emails

Bill Cara gets a email from a reader that hits the proverbial nail with the hammer.

We live in interesting times (as the Chinese curse has it), and in order to maneuvre and survive the shoals and rapids that lie in front of us, we have to understand them as they actually are. The prince, says Machiavelli (I paraphrase here; you can add bull and bear in substitution), is neither bold nor diffident simpliciter; rather, he is bold when boldness is required, and diffident when diffidence is called for. He sees reality as it is, without sentiment, without illusion, and he simply rides the waves -- he doesn't try to bully the wind, and he does not cower in the face of placid lakes. And this, of course, means seeing the world for what it is, rationally, objectively, dispassionately.

This is the reason most of us gather at your site -- to trade insights and analysis. Very little is accomplished by giving vent to one's political passions -- even if you think you're 'right' -- because such discussions are inevitably shallow, superficial, resting upon unexamined and unacknowledged premises -- so that even if you've got (or think you've got) Truth 'by the balls', it's like throwing mud and sludge into the water you plan to drink. It does a great disservice to the community we're trying hard to build here.

The rhetoric emerging from Teheran is certainly frightening. But the rhetoric coming out of Washington -- and I speak as a political independent, with no discernible partisan leanings that I can detect -- and the chorus of its supporters in the media, is equally hard for me to fathom. There are profound risks afoot in the world; but current breathless attempts among certain individuals to fan yet another war hysteria (WWIII is already here, says Newt Gingrich?) corresponds to nothing in the objective reality that I can see -- Iran, whatever dangers it may ultimately pose, is not about to bomb Topeka in the next few days, or even years. And there are many disinterested, and fairly well informed and intelligent observers who find the arguments currently being made in Washington to be disingenuous -- to say the least.

But those are my views, and even these are matters that can and should be discussed in rational and measured tones. Ultimately, the greatest danger facing the world today is a certain rabid and rancid irrationalism that is sweeping the globe -- and that is armed to the teeth -- and that I find very frightening. I -- no, we here together -- may not be able to do much to stem the tides of history. But history itself will condemn us nonetheless, if we allow ourselves to get reduced, both as individuals and as a group (like the blinded chorus in an Ancient tragedy), to being merely cheering sections for the catastrophes that may lie before us.”


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