Pioneer Democracy: Inherited suspicion and scant respect for the expert

OHV Protest, Blanding UT

OHV Protest, Blanding UT

Bill Nye the Science Guy said that every person we meet will know something we don’t. I interpret that to mean that we can’t know everything and that we shouldn’t be intimidated by not knowing something. That being said, we should not be so afraid of appearing ignorant or not knowing something that we shut the door on gleaning new information, or getting informed. We should never be too proud to learn, to hear new information, or to change our position in light of it. To do so is the mark of an intellectually honest person. Not being able to see beyond your own nose, or the adamant refusal to try, betrays a stubborn fear of being wrong.

As it turns out, most current events are the result of a long history of events. They have a sort of tap root that goes deep into the ground and if you do not get to the root, you will never really understand the situation. Why? Because you are viewing it in isolation and thus cutting off the links that created it. However, more often than not, when you do the digging and explore all the differing sides, you will ultimately be swayed by one – hopefully the most logical or reasonable.

In order to address issues of the day, there is a great need for self-criticism and self-analysis because our history resides in us like DNA. It lives and is manifest through us. What appears original, in light of history, is often just a continuously revolving idea. If we do not weigh our worldview against history with an open and critical mind, we will never know if our beliefs and subsequent biases are our own, or if we inherited them like genes from the culture in which we were born, and thus, have not even begun to think. It is those who are willing to do this who come up with new ideas and solutions.

The outright rejection of new ideas or challenges to deeply held views is anathema to progress. New ideas that challenge the old should be examined with an open mind and either accepted or rejected based on its soundness. It is through such challenges that the level of progress civilization attains is either achieved or lost. Progress marches forward, stagnation stays the same, and regression slips backward. We do have the choice to move, and in what direction. Will our collective voices move us forward, plant us in the status quo, or drag us backward?

To question is to know. Doubt is not something to fear, but an indicator that something should be examined. When doubt is allowed, and challenges explored, it serves to either reinforce beliefs or requires that they be abandoned. It is the only intellectually honest process of critical thought.

It seems that the contest between the intelligent, sober-minded, reflective men of the progressive era of Teddy Roosevelt and the unthinking, reckless, boisterous, don’t-give-a-damned portion of the community of the Jackson era is still alive today (1).

In light of that, I am going to explore the deeply held angst in Blanding. I do not know all of the history; in fact, I have a cursory and surface level knowledge of what is taking place there. I of course have my own suspicions, but intend to do some research in light of what I heard yesterday at the protest in Blanding, as there is clearly a long history that led to the protest. I will be writing a long piece on this with the comments of the protest as the backbone of the expose. My intent is to educate myself as well as provide a possibly entertaining story that informs. Stay tuned.

(1)    Quote from the New York Times, October 24, 1868, in Anti-Intellectualism in American Life by Richard Hofstader

 

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Posted on May 11, 2014, in Connecting to Community and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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