The Pedestal on which We Sit

by Michelle Lasley

Michelle Lasley is a mother, wife in Pacific Northwest learning to balance green dreams with budget realities.

December 17, 2007

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Categories: The Balancing Act

I have remembered what I said to my dear professor that may have irked him. Immediately after his class (Cities & 3rd World Development), I emailed the two other instructors who encouraged this thought, thanking them for their insight. The thought was in regards to Academia having all the answers: if we do have all the answers, and we’re so enlightened, why aren’t the problems of the world solved? The obvious answer is that we don’t have all the answers. When discussing 3rd World Development, my dear professor seemed taken aback that I would suggest the university system may be flawed.

The point is that there is no panacea to our problems. I’ve said this before in various writings for class or otherwise, but there are many different problems of this world that haunt many different people. If we have such diverse problems, regardless of any connections or similar roots, it will require diverse solutions if we would like any semblance of a solution.

It seems we can classify us, us peoples, in several different ways. For the sake of this blog, I will do it in two ways, those who think we have a problem and those who think the problem seekers should be squelched. I would fall into the category of believing that we have a problem. Someone who feels simply that might is right would likely fall into the latter category. Us Tree-Huggin’ Hippies, as my brother likes to call me, would fall into the former category. Those thinking that Bush was too liberal for them would fall into the latter. This reference is only used as an example to showcase The Myth of the Panacea (I need to copyright that).

The former group, the problem seekers, generally believes that more education will right the wrongs done to our earth and to each other. The problem squelchers believe that eliminating the problem seekers will solve the problems, because ultimately there is no problem that those with know-how cannot fix. Both sides believe they are right and that they have the solution, but unfortunately neither side is talking to the other. Without intercommunication, the other side can be vilified more easily and made to be less human. Once the other side is dehumanized, it is much easier to vilify, hence a nasty cycle. And, once the other side is vilified, then The Myth of the Panacea really comes into play, for if you just eliminate the other side then you will win and your problems will be solved (see above). Notice that now both sides can switch and become each other, problem seekers turning into eliminators and vice versa.

But that’s not how the real world works, not completely anyway. If the other side were to succeed in eliminating their supposed enemy, soon they will be called to testify for their genocide. The wrongs of history must be righted, although not necessarily today. But, where does that leave us in the meantime? Where does that leave us when dealing with obtuse professors and people that only see black and white? I don’t know, and I suppose that’s what I would like an answer to – how do you speak reason to someone who doesn’t want to understand logic?

Any thoughts?

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