Monday, April 5, 2010

the stupid gene

Frank, an old Zen friend, sent me an article today about some political conservatives trying to rewrite history in their own image. It would be funny if it weren't so serious ... people can actually believe specious thinking, much as they believed Nazi Propaganda Minister Josef Goebbels... the man who was willing to say aloud what all politicians know: If you repeat a lie often enough, people will start to believe it. (The war in Iraq and the unexamined use of the word "terrorism" spring to mind)

Not that liberals can't be equally liberal with the facts, but the conservative effort is embarrassing enough so that even some conservatives are shying away, afraid of being tarred with the 'stupid' brush.

A part of Hitler's rise to power, if I remember correctly, rested in the superior attitude that many generals and other aristocratic German leaders took towards the upstart, lower-class, loud-mouthed Hitler: How could such an uncouth lout ever enter the halls of power and grace? Well, I guess they learned their lesson ... as did many of our forbears.

Francois de LaRochefoucauld, author of a book of witty maxims among other works, once wrote, "The intelligence of the mass is inversely proportionate to its number." Meaning, the more people who believe one thing or another, the stupider they get. He did not take the trouble to differentiate between liberals and conservatives ... instead he focused on human beings of whatever political stripe.

However arrogant LaRochefoucauld may have been, still I think his maxim holds water and instructs us all to make the effort to ascertain for ourselves what the truth of one thing or another might be. No point in being any stupider than we have to.

And, yes, I do have spiritual life in mind.

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