Anthology – Peoples’ Plan for Life, Now and Forever …
“…In numerous revolts peoples have freed themselves from monarchs and despots, oppressors and dictators – only to find themselves repossessed by the new pharaoh. Deeply anti-democratic, highly corrupting forces have been at work against the ideal of America for a long time. ‘I consider the class of artificers [manufacturers] as the panders of vice and the instruments by which the liberties of a country are generally overturned,’ wrote Thomas Jefferson to John Jay in 1785. Walt Whitman, in the 1860s, admonished,
Resist much, obey little…
Once fully enslaved, no nation, state, city of this earth, ever afterward resumes its liberty.
“In 1961, that great hippie Republican, President Dwight D. Eisenhower, warned,
‘We must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist….The power of money is ever present and is gravely to be regarded.’
“Eisenhower’s was probably the most honest and important speech delivered by any modern head of state. What the president feared, we live.
“…As a patriot who loves this land and its ideal (if not the hardheartedness of too many Americans), I take cheer. Although multinational corporations have made us believe that we are their slaves, in fact we are their masters. They, like all self-proclaimed masters, fear their subjects. They spend fortunes advertising to us because they’ll die pretty quickly if we disconnect their feeding tubes, or simply ignore them. They know we’ll destroy them if we wake up. And many of them are worried. Two-thirds of Americans want to see big corporations have smaller influence. Nearly 40 percent of Americans – a minority, but still – see big business as ‘the biggest threat to the future of this country.’
“…Technology has carried people beyond our planet. But what can keep us here on Earth? Science, technology, and the right values each provide only part of what we need. Science without ethics is blind, and ethics without science is prone to errors.
“I’d always thought science was amoral because it’s committed to finding and accepting the truth, whatever the answer turns out to be. What I never realized – a religious person actually pointed this out to me recently – is that science’s commitment to truth makes it a fundamentally moral endeavor. Businesspeople may succeed by sacrificing some truth while pursuing profits. Lawyers may succeed by ignoring aspects of justice in defense of clients. Economics isn’t concerned with either truth or justice. Religion thinks it has the truth and can’t walk its dogma too far from the curb. Science accepts only evidence that can be repeated, witnessed by skeptics, and shared. This doesn’t mean science is ‘true,’ necessarily. There always remains the possibility that new finding might sweep away older beliefs. That doesn’t mean science is weak. Rather, that’s its strength. It means scientists grow better as scientists the more devoted they are to finding the truth, and the more open to recognizing it. Of course, some scientists (and some atheists) are dogmatic and act more like fundamentalists. Some religious people constantly seek better understanding, acting more, in their open curiosity, like scientists. Because it’s humanity’s best truth-seeking endeavor, science is completely compatible with freedom. It is completely at home in a free-speech democracy. It cannot progress under repression, dictatorship, or religiously dominated political systems. Things that embrace truth support science because science depends on the pool of known truth. Things that repress truth are threatened by science. It’s that simple. It’s that powerful.
“The relationship between science and religion is important because about 85 percent of the world’s people belong to, and largely take their values from, a religion. If the immense power of science can be harnessed to values, if values can be powered by facts, civilization might avert the pain upon which it’s poised.
“It’s not that I see science and faith as natural allies. It’s that I don’t see them as natural enemies. Many scientists share a sense of wonder and a moral imperative so profound that their sense of purpose and their emotional experience widely overlap those of religious people, and might, in their devotion and consistency, be called religious in the broad sense. Some scientists have traditional religious faith, just as some people of faith have scientific curiosity. More to the point, regardless whether the world originated through chemistry or divine providence, the same present confronts us all. We all breathe, drink, and rely on animals, plants and the march of seasons for our survival. Cosmic origins and afterlife destinies aside, in this world, life is what we have and what we are. With so much at risk, all we can afford is to put differences aside. If we sink the ark everyone on it goes down, regardless of what they believed.
“And so paths converge: what serves the continuity of life is sacred. And what serves the future serves us, too. In a world of accelerating changes, these thoughts often accompany me to many a faraway place, and back to Lazy Point.”