Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Prove Voltaire wrong ...

Jake's prediction could prove right, based on his adaptation of the quote from Voltaire (pictured left), "Good discussion over the Internet is usually neither good nor a discussion." But -- while we've the time for it, anyway -- we could try to prove him wrong. Perhaps one thing we could discuss is the value of discussion, to begin with. One observation I've heard many, many times is that students today, compared to students in the 1970s during the Vietnam War, are politically diffident, religiously indifferent and generally apathetic, that their chief interests lie in chasing the muses of personal peace ("don't bother me with anything") and affluence ("whoever dies with the most stuff wins"). In what, then, does the value of discussion, involvement, ecumenism, and political activism consist? Could all this discussion and talk and involvement not amount to useless and idle chatter? Could a disposition of apathy and indifference not be the essence of sanity amidst this insane world? Bertrand Russell (pictured right) once wrote a book of essays entitled In Praise of Idleness (pictured above left). Could he have been right? Are political debates, such as we have every four years, an exercise in self-delusion, futility, and an utter waste of time? Are ecumenical discussions between Lutherans and Catholics and Anglicans and Presbyterians a waste of time? Where have they gotten us? Should we perhaps jettison the ideal of that old geezer, Socrates (pictured left), who said that "the unexamined life is not worth living" and substitute for it the Russellian ideal "in praise of idleness"? Perhaps the majority of contemporary students are right after all, and it's the examined life that's not worth living. So why should we discuss anything at all? Perhaps we should each waste away our lives in idleness, sitting in front of his or her own computer monitor, shopping online, playing interactive games, watching movies, checking the news, listening to favorite tunes, or writing blogs that nobody will ever read ...

On that happy note, we'll see you around!

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