One of the most distressing elements of our current political and cultural divide is the realization that we have this huge disagreement in our country, split pretty much evenly among the population, over what is “true.”
It’s no great revelation to state that there is a giant rift, represented by our views on taxation, immigration, education, regulations, vaccinations, race relations, gender identification, climate change, gun rights, marriage rights, affirmative action, political correctness, the police, the protests and probably most glaringly — the way we regard the 45th president of the United States.
While our own views may have been reasonably arrived at, many of us contend that the other guy’s views are quite obviously shaped by how and where and from whom they get their information.
Maybe that’s why, when I was skimming through the pages of the weekend book review, I was drawn by the title of the latest offering from Nobel Prize-winning physicist Frank Wilczek. It’s called “Fundamentals: Ten Keys to Reality.” I thought — if there’s a key, let alone 10 of them, that can bring us to some reality we can all agree on, then maybe that’s where we can, perhaps, begin to come to a new agreement.
I’ve always loved nicknames. When I was growing up, everyone in my group of friends had a nickname; Spiff, Speen, Spoon, Sparky, Gill, Gabe, Guns, Goober, Shrod, Sheepdog, Habes. And Decky, Bean, Bag and Bubba, to name but a few.
It’s tricky though, this dream of coming together as a nation. I see and hear people from both sides of the political divide appealing for unity and healing but, also, complaining about it and objecting to it, saying, "Where were they when it was their turn to unite and heal?" You can understand that kind of thinking, even if you can’t understand how they could possibly be so gullible and brainwashed as to think that way.
What I gathered from the review, keeping in mind that I haven’t read the book yet (although I have ordered it and am looking forward to doing so), the author endeavors to present us with a body of information that encompasses the basic unopinionated facts of what we know and what is true about the physical world, including that which is around and far beyond us and that which lies within.
He goes on to describe the experiments that led us to our knowledge and our truth, and how it has stood the test of scrutiny and challenge, having proved to be repeatable and consistent over time and in different places.
I would pick a kid and ask — when were you born, and then I would turn to the paper that was published closest to that date to show what was happening in the town at that time. My editor said, "that’s one of the reasons newspapers are important; they provide an historical record of the events that take place."
However, the establishment of truth is not a promise of infallibility. As an example, consider the laws of Newtonian mechanics and Euclidian geometry, which break down when applied to things that are very big, very small or very fast. Such exceptions do not negate these laws but, rather, expand upon them.
There can even be contradictory truths, such as “light is a wave and light is a particle.” True paradox is thrilling, and our acceptance of it is mind-expanding.
Which brings us to, what the review led me to believe, is the author’s third and final objective — to help us understand and enthusiastically embrace the fact that the world is changing all the time, and that it is thrilling for us to continue to change (our level of understanding and awareness) along with it.
"...in our personal lives we place all sorts of artificial limitations on ourselves by framing things as either/or and convincing ourselves it’s one or the other."
To help us in this regard, he proposes the “way of science,” which rests upon an underlying attitude, a curiosity that compels us to ask and wonder why, combined with an insistence that truth must be demonstrated and not just assumed.
Likewise, I propose that rather than using the “politics of science" — with its terms like “following the science” and “science-denier” — to divide us, we consider the “way of science” as an approach to information gathering, to bring us to a new understanding, a new identity, a new relationship and a new reality.
I wonder how many of us are willing to reach for new understanding and even entertain the thought of a new reality, perhaps in the form of a less divided nation?
I know I’m jumping the gun a bit, considering that people won’t be making New Year’s resolutions for a few more weeks, if at all, given the we…
Following a course set in motion by Lincoln before he was assassinated, moderate Republicans and Democrats from both sides believed that it was the responsibility of the government to take actions and put forth messages that would promote unity. They believed that if these things were done, then gradually the people of the nation would adopt an attitude of national unity.
If I were rich, I’d carve out time to stretch my muscles and stretch my joints, and I would breathe in and breathe out, and I would visualize the light rising up and then descending...