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Saturday, December 29, 2007

Lessons from "Empire"

I recently finished Orson Scott Card's book "Empire," which details a modern day civil war between progressives and conservatives. The country has been so torn apart by partisanship that words can no longer suffice--a violent battle must be waged.

While the book is a work of fiction, Card includes an Afterword titled "Keeping Things Civil," which is a narrative on the current state of the American political arena, and how we are at a time when partisanship is at its height.

It should be required reading for all Americans.

As you can see from my earlier videos and posts, partisanship is a major issue for me. To rehash a bit, I think the current political scene--where parties spend more time slinging mud across the aisle than they do legislating for the good of the public--is despicable.

And Card agrees: we are fully polarized as nation. He can express this better than I can, so I implore you to read "Keeping Things Civil." Do with it what you wish, but keep it in mind the next time a party's partisan actions come to light.

Here is my favorite passage:

We live in a time when people like me, who do not wish to choose either camp's ridiculous, inconsistent, unrelated ideology, are being forced to choose -- and to take one whole absurd package or the other.

We live in a time when moderates are treated worse than extremists, being punished as if they were more fanatical than the actual fanatics.

We live in a time when lies are preferred to the truth and truths are called lies, when opponents are assumed to have the worst conceivable motives and treated accordingly, and when we reach immediately for coercion without even bothering to find out what those who disagree with us are actually saying.

In short, we are creating for ourselves a new dark age -- the darkness of blinders we voluntarily wear, and which, if we do not take them off and see each other as human beings with legitimate, virtuous concerns, will lead us to tragedies whose cost we will bear for generations.

Or, maybe, we can just calm down and stop thinking that our own ideas are so precious that we must never give an inch to accommodate the heartfelt beliefs of others.


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