I find it fascinating to compare the original Star Trek television series with the first Star Wars movie. And I think this comparison can reveal a lot about the current state of our culture.
Back in the 1970's, Andy Warhol made this observation about American society: "What's great about this country is that America started the tradition where the richest consumers buy essentially the same things as the poorest."
Any attempt to expound on the subject of love must first come to terms with the problem that we use the word in many different ways and situations. There is romantic love. There is sexual attraction. There is the love of a parent for his or her child. There is the feeling we have for a great work of art. There is an appreciation we have for the natural world around us. Which of these sorts of love are we talking about?
No matter which way you lean politically, you probably have strong feelings about capitalism. It seems to me that there are a lot of odd ideas on this topic running around out there in today's world. Let me offer some thoughts about what seems true to me.
What happened between 1990 and 2018? Who stuck the playing card between the spokes of the bicycle for my mind, turning a mental enabler into an annoying distraction?
As computers become increasingly powerful, many observers allege that we are just bundles of algorithms, programmed by a combination of our inherited genetic material and our environment, simply responding to stimuli in predictable ways. I say that's a lot of hooey.
Looking back over the history of the United States, it's easy to see in hindsight a series of events and actions that have either united or divided us.
The Revolutionary War, the ratification of our US Constitution, World War II and the race to put a man on the moon can all be seen as efforts that ultimately brought us together as a nation.
On the other hand, our Civil War and the Vietnam conflict are examples of actions that tragically divided us.
The dictionary on my Mac defines mission as “a strongly felt aim, ambition, or calling.”
Implicit in this definition is the idea that we are talking about something other than simple self-interest. We are all motivated to take care of ourselves, but a mission implies something greater, an impulse to contribute to something larger than our individual existence.
A prerequisite for a mission is a surplus of resources, something more than what is needed for simple subsistence. If we are just scraping by, then no mission, no matter how keenly felt, will get much traction.
Let me take you on a little journey of thought exploring some hitherto unconsidered aspects of our common cultural evolution.
Whether we are talking about the King James Bible, The Catcher in the Rye, On the Origin of Species, or Wikipedia, we can recognize that writing things down is an important means of preserving human knowledge and wisdom, and that both writing and reading are invaluable human activities.
Author Carl Sagan made a compelling case for the importance of the written word in his own book, The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark, calling it “the great invention”: