The subject of ancient history, perhaps for reasons of convenience, is traditionally represented In terms of an agreed consensus as to epochs. Following the Paleolithic: Stone, Iron and Bronze Ages, we are guided to “The Dark Ages,” (Medieval Ages),” The Age of Enlightenment,” “The Industrial Revolution” and the like. Such generalized categories should properly be understood in fact to denote gradual trends, collectively described in analytical retrospective.
Just as evolution demonstrates a slow, steady march of progress toward a rational animal, homo- sapiens, so has society, in fits and starts, travelled the long developing road to modernity. The historical period known as “The Dark Ages,” characterized by ignorance, belief in superstition and constant warfare, is succeeded by the “Age of Enlightenment,” typified by a new emphasis on reason and ideas as the primary source of authority, rather than upon a third party external agency such as witches and other irrational conceptions. In lieu of burning heretics and witches, man began, constructively, to “burn the midnight oil” in the pursuit of empirical knowledge and self-enhancement.
Each age, apparently, has its respective share of atavistic individuals, who are resolutely opposed to advancement and progress in learning and who deprecate scientific inquiry as “unholy.” In our era, such phenomenon is evidenced by those who would deny evolution and as well, man’s consequential impact on climate change despite irrefutable proof of the existence of the two phenomena. As universally is the case, we have low information, “flat earth people,” who denigrate, and often impede, the exercise of efforts toward the goal of understanding ourselves and the planetary environment. Thus, we experience individuals who oppose family planning, research in the fields of cellular biology and genetics, evolutionary science, climatology, in fact all basic intellectual and scientific inquiry. They also oppose international relations and as well, aspirations for ethnic equality and social justice.
We have previously observed the balkanization, or fracturing, of society by the formation of insular groups of like-thinking people who eschew and condemn other such groups who think otherwise. The foreseeable result has been a complete break-down of civic amity and the complete inability of citizens of such insular sub-societies to discuss disparate views with others, a practice necessary to the success of a democracy, as instructed by our founding fathers.
Further estrangement and insularity is a result of the widespread practice of electronic communication and mechanical messaging, as opposed to personal interaction, between communicating members of society. Electronic conversation is akin to the transmission of data and far removed from the natural satisfaction resulting from the shared experience of human spontaneous interaction.
The dynamic, catalytic combination of the devaluation of intellectual prowess and the disrespect for academia, the depersonalization of interactive communication and the unfortunate fragmentation of society into insular cohorts of shared beliefs, has taken a substantial toll from society, resulting in an atmosphere of critical distrust and insularity and the loss of common goals and unified national aspirations. This created a void capable of being filled by low- information populism resulting in inevitable mismanagement and discontent. Such coarsening of American society was a necessary pre-requisite to the election of Donald Trump, an egotistical, ignorant, glitzy television game show host, to the office of the President of the United States, the leader of the free world. In the short period of his term, to date, his adolescent behavior has embarrassed the nation and confused foreign heads of state. His complete unsuitability for the office and irrational temperament has resulted in the forfeiture of our country’s role as accepted leader of the free world (apparently in favor of Germany).
Unprecedentedly, our nation, since the recent election, seems to be completely rudderless and vulnerable; considering the populist distain for education and intellectual achievement, and the resultant discord and coarsening of our society, it might well be said by future historians that we are experiencing a contemporary version of the dark ages.
Millions of literate and intelligent American citizens view this debacle with shock and great dismay. Books and brilliant articles have been published and eloquent lectures have been delivered, but the ardent citizen feels powerless to reverse the tide of this disastrous populist tsunami.
Unless we feel hapless enough to accede to this disgraceful status quo, we cannot wait eternities for an arrival of a new age of enlightenment. Instead, we must be patiently, emphatically and optimistically, pro-active, in a strategic and thoughtful plan of action to restore the United States of America to its former greatness; it is our historic duty and a moral` imperative. There are, conceivably, an unlimited variety of corrective steps and we must remain dedicated, optimistic and patient. Pliny’s suggestions are as follows:
- Substantially increase the practice of real personal interactions with others and minimize the number of electronic communications.
- Resolve to socialize with neighbors of divergent political belief; invite them and refrain from the expression of your political philosophy and world view. When comfort is achieved, discuss any subject with the express understanding that you both share the mutual desire to have a great and enterprising country.
- Increase your reading of good literature, prominent newspapers and attendance at educative lectures (including TED talks on PBS).
- Volunteer, preferably, with others, to perform some public service.
- Invite others of different ethnicity to your home for dinner or barbeque.
- Teach your young that they were born into their particular culture by random accident and eschew all “we” and “they” vocabulary.
- Stay well informed and vote intelligently