PATRICK LAWRENCE: Hearts Versus Minds

There is a time-honored and destructive tradition in the U.S. of citizens approaching their political causes with blind faith.   

Rally for peace in Ukraine outside the White House in Washington, D,C., Feb. 27, 2022. (Mike Maguire, Flickr, CC BY 2.0)

By Patrick Lawrence
Special to Consortium News

I am seeing many fewer blue-and-yellow flags in evidence during wanderings in my corner of New England. Thank goodness that didn’t last long, I have to say. And those that remain are limp, faded by the summer sun and tattered at the edges by the wind. To my mind, this is the perfect look for banners flown in celebration of a regime that is a cynical simulacrum of everything our flag-wavers take it to stand for.

I have it from several intelligence officials — senior officials, of course, as all my sources are — that all the retired blue-and-yellow flags are to be stored in a large attic owned by the Smithsonian Institution. I cannot name these officials, naturally, “due to the sensitivity of the matter,” but you already understood that. If they are telling me things and I am telling you the things they are telling me, it is plain enough that you can believe what they are telling me and I am telling you.

These sources assure me, moreover, that the countless bales of discarded Ukrainian flags will take their place among all the “Black Lives Matter” plaques that once graced — is this my word? — America’s front lawns, and all the “Support Our Troops” bumper stickers justifying imperial wars with the yellow ribbons, and all those ridiculous pink caps worn a while back, with the ears of felines protruding from them.

It grows crowded, this attic, for there are many such items in it.

Why does it grow crowded? This is our question.

Almost Infinite Inventory of Causes

If you let your mind range back over American history, the citizens of our republic have gone through an almost infinite inventory of causes of one or another kind in which they fervently believe. Some are very worthy, of course, and I do not refer to those. Many others, the ones that captivate us and leave us passingly self-satisfied, are more in the way of frivolous feel-good exercises. In every case, no exceptions, the thought is that if the current cause prevails, America will have rid itself of a blemish and return to its natural state of perfection.

And if the cause turns out to be fraudulent, or a juvenile fantasy, or if it falls unaccomplished by the wayside, or if it takes too much work and commitment to get it done, or if people may actually have to make a sacrifice, the artifacts of this cause go to the Smithsonian’s attic and another cause will in due course appear.

Quest for the Presidency  installation 1968-1970. (National Museum of American History Smithsonian Institution, Flickr, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

This thread in the American fabric, prominent as it is, merits our consideration. In all my years as a correspondent in the non–West, and when I am among English or French or Italian friends, I find no such collective compulsion to climb aboard faddish causes, usually to drop them when they require any kind of genuine exertion.

How come, this?

It is not merely an apparent strangeness in the American character. This prevalent tendency among us has its consequences, and none of these is good. For one thing, it comes not to matter whether factual evidence contradicts what people believe in, for people will continue to believe in it anyway.

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For another, a consciousness such as I describe is easily manipulated by those in the business of controlling what the public takes an interest in and, of course, distorting public opinion on any given question. In both of these respects, Ukraine is an excellent case in point.

I have long noted the distinction between thinking on the one hand, and feeling and believing on the other. When I am reading along in the newspapers, for instance, I often read that so-and-so does not think this or that: So-and-so feels this or that or believes this or that. The president feels that wage rates in America are too high. The president believes that Ukraine requires more weapons. I long ago gave up on the idea this was merely bad writing, or a mistaken locution. It reflects very accurately among us a preference for believing and feeling rather than thinking.

Mistrust of Thinking

No credit where none due: I am far from the first to wonder about the American predilection to believe or feel rather than think. Richard Hofstadter, the noted historian, is well known for his Anti–Intellectualism in American Life, his 1963 book in which he identified a prevalent mistrust of thinking among Americans deriving from the New England Protestant tradition, wherein belief counted far more than thought.

But let us go back further than the estimable Hofstadter. We discover interesting things about ourselves as we rummage through our past. We find there is a right and wrong to this question of believing as against thinking. There are consequences.

Mathematician William Kingdon Clifford, from the frontispiece of Lectures and Essays. (Wikimedia Commons)

In 1877, a British mathematician named William Clifford published an essay called “The Ethics of Belief.” Clifford was into geometry and algebra and so was given to a stringent variety of rationality: If you can’t prove it don’t bother me, seems a not-too-simple summation of Clifford’s thought.

In his noted essay, published in a journal called Contemporary Review, Clifford postulated the case of a ship owner who sends to sea a passenger vessel despite his doubts as to its seaworthiness. “These doubts preyed upon his mind, and made him unhappy,” Clifford wrote. But, having weighed the case carefully, “he succeeded in overcoming these melancholy reflections.” When the ship went down with all its passengers, the owner collected his insurance and the world was never the wiser as to his doubts.

Clifford was vigorously condemnatory of the ship owner. “He had no right to believe on such evidence as was before him,” Clifford wrote. Even if the ship had made its destination, the decision to sail it was grossly immoral and the owner would have been no less guilty. Clifford’s conclusion: “It is wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone, to believe anything upon insufficient evidence.”

Using Clifford’s strident prose as a mirror, you have to figure that by the second half of the 19thcentury, with the age of science and materialism in full swing and nobody knowing what was next, blind faith was already a problem. Clifford’s argument, the take-home for us 145 years later, is that there is nothing benign or innocent or harmless about indulging in our givenness to believe things we would rather not think about. A grave responsibility attaches to this habit.

William Clifford died at 33, two years after he published “The Ethics of Belief,” apparently from overwork.

Seventeen years later, William James delivered a lecture called “The Will to Believe” to the Philosophic Clubs of Yale and Brown. It was published under that title in a journal called The New World in 1896. I have a lot of time for James, brother of Henry, psychologist turned philosopher, author of Varieties of Religious Experience, friend of Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud. But in this essay, he may as well have spoken from a 17th century pulpit wearing a Puritan minister’s black and white.

“I have brought with me tonight … an essay in justification of faith,” James began, “a defense of our right to adopt a believing attitude in religious matters in spite of the fact that our merely logical intellects may not have been coerced.”

‘Nation With Soul of a Church’

He was addressing “religious matters,” but the import of James’s remarks extends far beyond ecclesiastical questions. It wasn’t many years later when G.K. Chesterton famously described America as “a nation with the soul of a church.”

G. K. Chesterton at work, undated. (Wikimedia Commons)

James was in part responding to Clifford as he defended believing in the absence of supporting evidence. Turning Clifford upside down, James asserted that prior belief is beneficial to the discovery of evidence. Belief gives us confidence. The scientist has to believe in his experiment to proceed with scientific inquiry successfully.

“When we look at certain facts, it seems as if our passional and volitional nature lay at the root of all our convictions,” James told his audience. “Does it not seem preposterous on the very face of it to talk of our opinions being modifiable at will?”


This question of belief does not seem to have faded since Clifford and James took it up. Bertrand Russell delivered “Free Thought and Official Propaganda” to a London audience in 1922. Twenty-five years later he published On the Value of Scepticism. The same year Max Horkheimer brought out The Eclipse of Reason, an unjustly neglected work.

And we are still not out of the woods. No, we are deeper than ever into them, in my view.

I consider the problem these writers raised especially acute in our time. America is a declining empire, haunted by the psychological blow sustained on Sept. 11, 2001. Those who purport to lead us act with increasing desperation to salvage the image of America the invincible, America the providentially blessed, American the always-right.

People are left desperate for something to believe in. And there is nothing left to sustain these fictions other than sheer belief in them.

This confers a special responsibility upon us — not to say Americans are short of things in need of doing. It is our responsibility to recognize how destructive the habit of blind believing has proven. It is our responsibility to stop believing, to begin using our “merely logical intellects” —what a phrase, that — to think through the republic’s long list of predicaments and dilemmas so that a way can be found out of the swamps into which feeling and believing have led us.

Where does the future of the troubled republic lie? Our hearts have a lot to do with it, but we had better begin to use our heads first. Then our hearts will follow.

Patrick Lawrence, a correspondent abroad for many years, chiefly for the International Herald Tribune, is a columnist, essayist, author and lecturer. His most recent book is Time No Longer: Americans After the American Century. His Twitter account, @thefloutist, has been permanently censored. His web site is Patrick Lawrence. Support his work via his Patreon site.  His web site is Patrick Lawrence. Support his work via his Patreon site

The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

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25 comments for “PATRICK LAWRENCE: Hearts Versus Minds

  1. zendeviant
    September 9, 2022 at 05:23

    On Belief:

    It’s one thing to believe in miracles,
    another to believe in nothing but miracles,
    And then become one!
    We are in a miracle, why “believe”?

    Tool: Lateralus

    Quantum Mechanics is tantamount to religion. Read Gary Zhukav: The Dancing Wu Li Masters. Gurjieff: Meetings with remarkable men.

    I am, therefore I think!

  2. Henry
    September 8, 2022 at 16:35

    I think it is a fine short essay most appropriate for our time. It reflects on the comment under “Argo” from the earlier essay.

  3. Jim Thomas
    September 8, 2022 at 15:46

    Mr. Lawrence, Thank you for another well written piece, with which I agree but think it omits discussion of a critical issue, that being the question of why do the people continue to believe a source of information which has time and again been proven to be a purveyor of falsehoods? I am 78 years old and have paid close attention to the lies told by the US government to sell its wars of aggression, every single one of them during that half century + time period being sold on bold faced lies. The fact is that the US government has no credibility whatsoever and no thinking person should believe anything it says in the absence of the production of strict proof backing up its contentions. I long ago gave up on the ability of the “American people” to think at all. I was disgusted, but not at all surprised, when they started waving their Ukrainian flags around, in absolute contradiction to facts which informed people knew very well – the coup orchestrated by the US in 2014, the murder of thousands of Ukrainian citizens by the US/Ukrainian government over the next 7-8 years, etc. Now the people, including the foolish flag wavers, are tens of billions of dollars poorer, and the thieves who run the show are billions of dollars richer, all according to plan. Do the :American people” every learn? Apparently not.

    • robert e williamson jr
      September 8, 2022 at 20:13

      I see comments similar to yours quite often submitted to CN, being 73 I get where you are coming from and I have some bad news.

      The issues you mention above are critical to understanding the dilemma.

      Jim you and I grew up in a different time, a handshake meant something to most people but not the truly greedy. As the population grew so did crime. That critical issue you refer to is M$O$N$E$Y I mean tons of it. And the reason it is the main issue is the greedy individual. One D R Trump being proof, a billionaire blinded by the lust for power and more “access coupons ” ($s US).

      However the underlying roots are more important because the roots need to change before the symptoms of greed for power and money will ever be addressed in an effective manner.

      We need government reform and I’m not sure we are up to doing it properly.

      We have too much power on the national level concentrated in too few hands because the people with the most money are in charge of too much of what occurs behind the scenes. The result the beliefs and values of the nation have become divided because all Americans have been victimized by the slow con. Instead of the populace at large being involved in politics to a depth that they are effective thinkers most are distracted because they believe that social programs for those “lesser individuals” who they kick down at out of frustration they will be taxed more and more.

      This thought or philosophy expressed by so many with little or no compassion for their fellow man be cause they are going to get THEIR $$$$ no matter what is fucking ridiculous on it’s face.

      It is the military spending that is the problem with the US supposedly not having enough resources to care for all but the most vile and hopeless individuals who suffer regardless. Some people are beyond hope, intriguing as it is that they run the gamut from shysters like Trump to the 16 year old meth-brained wreck who has destroyed themself to the US Veterans who deserves so much better that they. This should be appalling to everyone of us.

      The congress, the media and the politicians all practice this kicking down on the have nots, to use as an excuse for not supporting social programs. Programs that have much less to do with socialism and much much more to do with improving individual life in our society.

      And for fucking what?

      I’ll tell you why, so they can continue to sell out to the defense industry who benefits into the trillions by bombing and destroying other countries. Countries full of people, many in such desperate straights as to be victims themselves.

      Maybe many of us would be well served to summit comments similar to mine to send a message. The message being we are not fooled by the government’s bullshit and they need to take notice.

      I don’t think for a minute I’m too far off with my thought here. Given that NASA spent 23 billion on the troublesome moon rocket and the US has grounded all F-35 because of Chinese parts this program is expected to cost 1.6 trillion $s US during it’s life time.

      What a fix the super wealthy elitists – SWETS have gotten us into, can’t afford to care for our own, even in the event of death because we are focusing TOOO MUCH NATION TREASURE ON KILLING OTHERS.

      If I had a Dog I don’t think my Dog would approve of this far flung dogma, do y’all ?

      Thanks CN

      • Frank Lambert
        September 9, 2022 at 10:10

        Thoughtful comments by many of you on the Patrick Lawrence article, which, in my point of view, is quite accurate about actual “facts” of the matter and “belief” without proof that something is right or correct in Patrick’s quotes of several well-know writers and Thinkers of the past. To Jim and Robert: I’m in between, at 75, so I’ve also seen so much distortion of news, and calculated fear-mongering by the oligarchic class in my lifetime for rallying the low-information, or I think more appropriate use of the moniker, “willful ignorant” citizenry in shaping their opinions to better serve the super-rich and big business.

        On the blue and yellow Ukrainian flags flown by people (my guess) who know little or nothing about the Ukraine’s history, is reminiscent about Nazi swastika flags (paid for by some of the big German corporations) all over Germany, and the consequent enslavement of the German people by the Nazi Party led by their psychotic Chancellor. You all know the outcome of that cult.

        Go back in time to the Catholic Church. (I ex-communicated myself at age 16) For being a “free-thinker” (a heretic) the priests tortured and murdered people who questioned the putrid dogma or had them recant, as did Galileo. Giordano Bruno, the mystic, wouldn’t recant, and was burned at the stake. Would Emmanuel, the Master Teacher, aka Jesus Christ, set somebody on fire because they disagreed with him? History is replete (unfortunately) with horrible crimes and misdeeds because of the lack of reasoning in determining the merits of a belief or an action to take place and instead, decide without proof, that “this way” or “that way” is correct.

        Some of my Christian friends tell me I’m going to hell because I don’t believe as they do and continually praise Jesus and “God”, and on and on. I tell them, “Do you read the Bible” They say, “every day,” to which I say, “did you come across the passage, “Prove all things, hold fast which is good?”

        Then I go into a theatrical tirade making their blood pressure sky high and then change the tone to calm them down and we are still friends until I bad-mouth the American war-machine for the benefit of the wealthy oligarchs and the shouting contest restarts. Was it Peter, Paul, and Mary who sang, “When will they ever learn?”

        Rosemerry: While vacationing in Europe in 2007, and in the International Herald-Tribune, German industrialist admonished Angela Merckle for listening to George W. Bush, pertaining to Russia, and said, “Both German and Russian Federation businesses are making money in trade. Why ruin it?” Words to that effect. Mr. Lawrence could sum it up better than I, as he was in Europe and a journalist back then. That’s my two cents!

        Again, another poignant and insightful article, Mr. Lawrence. My late wife, also a journalist and writer, is giving you the Seal of Approval somewhere in the Cosmos. “Without proof”, I KNOW it!”

    • Carl Zaisser
      September 9, 2022 at 08:28

      Very well said. America is a nation of people who can read, but don’t. That concept was a point made by researchers into the ‘teaching of reading’ dilemma which ushered in the ‘Whole Language’ approach to teaching reading in the 1970s-80s (which time proved to have its own problems, as California around 1998 made it ILLEGAL for schools to teach reading ONLY with a Whole Language approach). And, in the absence of people taking the intellectual interest and energy to sustain a reading program that informs them substantively, they fall victim to whatever the mass media tells them over and over. In that sense, Chomsky’s and Herman’s work on the ‘model of propaganda’ could have been an interesting complement to this essay: “Necessary Illusions: Thought Control in Democratic Societies”, and “Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media”.

  4. Jeff Harrison
    September 8, 2022 at 14:45

    There was a time back in the ’80s when I carpooled with one of the guys who worked for me at McDonnell Douglas who was an evangelical type person. I am not one of those people. We, of course, talked on the way to work since there was only the two of us in the car and on one occasion, he was asking me about something I felt I had an insufficient clue about. I said I dunno. Nevertheless, he kept pressing me about what my beliefs on the subject were (the actual subject is lost in the mists of antiquity). I kept on saying I dunno. Finally, with great frustration in his voice he said, well, what do you believe in?!? I said, causality. If you could show me something which demonstrably had no proximate cause, my world view would be shaken to the core. I also believe that something is responsible for this whole mess we call the universe. I want that son-of-a-bitch caught and hauled before some tribunal somewhere and be forced to pay for his crimes. Everything else, Stan, is based on a logical conclusion based on available evidence. If you don’t have enough evidence you don’t get to make a conclusion.

  5. September 8, 2022 at 14:25

    I think the issues are more nuanced than this treatment.

    There is something operating around the psychology and sociology and cultures of fashion and trendiness and slogans and celebrity.

    People love to be on the bandwagon and the propagandists know exactly how to manipulate that. It’s easier to go all and et along than to think for yourself and take stand or swim upstream against the current.

    • Carl Zaisser
      September 9, 2022 at 08:33

      Yes, but ESPECIALLY if you don’t read enough to have a body of knowledge to weigh what the mass media tells you. And that is perhaps not just the problem in the American body politic but in the world body politics. The tsunami of mass media easily sweeps away almost every human mind in its path which is not prepared to challenge it with its own knowledge and understanding.

  6. D.H.Fabian
    September 8, 2022 at 12:56

    More simply, much of America sits down each evening, tuning in to their corporate cable talk host of choice, to find out what they “truly believe.” They stopped reading, learning, thinking.

  7. forceOfHabit
    September 8, 2022 at 11:54

    I think the tendency of the American public to stampede credulously to stand behind “the current thing” (especially in comparison to their counterparts in Europe and around the world) is proof that they are the most propagandized people on the planet.

    That, combined with the erosion of critical thinking skills brought about, in part, by the decline in their public education system, and the obliteration of their attention spans (largely due to the rise of social media), they can be herded like sheep by their masters’ will.

    This will not stop until they remember they are not sheep, but people with minds and wills of their own.

    • rosemerry
      September 8, 2022 at 15:49

      I see exactly this “belief” now in the European Union- a complete refusal even to examine any of the facts as they follow the unelected leaders and the Big Boss Biden to reverse years of sensible cooperation with their resource-rich neighbour to turn to hatred and cancellation while they glorify a deeply flawed would-be NATO enemy they ply with weapons and money.

      • Tim S.
        September 9, 2022 at 19:53

        You meant “ NATO ally” of course, not “enemy”-

  8. Libero
    September 8, 2022 at 11:49

    Yes, as Adorno remarked, enthusiasm is the essential ingredient for every false belief.

  9. bobzz
    September 8, 2022 at 11:22

    Sidney Mead wrote a Book with that title: The Nation with the Soul of a Church. If Mead were alive today, he could write: The Church with the Soul of a Nation. Neither way is any good.

    • D.H.Fabian
      September 8, 2022 at 12:58

      Except that the church and the state have two often-contradictory ideologies.

  10. Michael Perry
    September 8, 2022 at 11:20

    On September 11th, 2001 we had the world’s sympathy with us.
    … But, our CIA,s, etc., catastrophic failures very soon, they failed us miserably…

    I would point more toward 1955, when the Unions were at a peak of 59%.
    … And in 1956, when the unregulated global shipping was being built for the investor…

    A month after Kennedy’s assassination, Truman wrote a letter to The Washington Post.
    … The editor buried it on page A-11.
    The Washington Post (December 22, 1963)
    “Limit CIA Role To Intelligence” by Harry S Truman
    “.. But there are now some searching questions that need to be answered.
    … I, therefore, would like to see the CIA be restored to its original assignment
    .. as the intelligence arm of the President, and that whatever else it can properly
    .. perform in that special field—and that its operational duties be terminated
    .. or properly used elsewhere.

    .. We have grown up as a nation, respected for our free institutions and for our
    .. ability to maintain a free and open society. There is something about the way
    .. the CIA has been functioning that is casting a shadow over our historic position
    .. and I feel that we need to correct it.”..

    And, if we go back to 10 years after Sherman Anti-Trust Act of 1890, and 14 years
    before the Clayton Anti-Trust Act of 1914, here is what Theodore Roosevelt had to say:
    “.. It is necessary that Laws need be passed to prohibit the use of Corporate Funds
    … directly or indirectly for political purposes; … it is still more … that such Laws
    … should be throughly enforced..”…

    In 1880, we had 1.2 billion people in the world. Today, we have around 8 billion.
    Now, it is projected to increase to 11 billion. … And, we are in a investor created
    opiatic state of a long induced “… Crude …” crack dream if we think the investor
    is going to be solving it. … And, the world has a really baddd — smoking problem…

  11. peon d. rich
    September 8, 2022 at 10:59

    Feeling and sentiment are in fact part of how we attain scientific cognition and theory. Of course there is an objective part to cognition and the theories we can form from them, but the positivistic notion of objectivity leaves out subjective elements of the actual cognition. Do you not have anticipations and expectations in your perceptions – of, say, that tree outside your window = that would be stunning if they were upended (I once walked down a street I had walked hundreds of times and felt strange, disconcerted, until someone pointed out to me that in the two days since I last walked it, the city had removed ALL the trees – sure there was an objective reason for my feelings, but my unnoticed anticipations of a tree-lined street led to seeking to figure out the difference – e.g., it wasn’t the different cars that had replaced the ones from the days before that threw me). All perceptions have subjective elements, and even a mathematical proof takes place in a subjective act. Of course we can talk of objectivity and extol rational thought and reason for the systematic understandings they give us; we value them, as in making a valuation.

    I agree with you, however, in your point that uncritical belief and feeling mar the cultural and political landscape. But a rationality based solely upon objectivity is dry and empty, and even though it can lead to objective clarity in some ways, it obscures the objectivity in others by limiting what consciousness, cognition, and human experience really entails. More scientific reason is needed in the political and cultural discourse and discussion, for sure, yet we must recognize the fundamental democratic element of feeling and sentiment: they are present in everyone’s valuations. Our hope as a civilization and even a sustained species lies in working out how to critically examine our beliefs and natural acceptances and to give them some kind of systematic development, i.e., reason.

  12. Jay
    September 8, 2022 at 10:42

    But on West 73rd Street, in Manhattan, Rutgers Church is unironically flying a big BLM flag/banner* above
    a poster, in a wall mounted case, that says: “Glory to Ukraine” beneath a sunflower and blue sky, so yellow[ish] and blue, like the Ukrainian flag.

    On the Broadway side of the church building, the corner of which is a Chase Bank, there’s a duplicate of that poster in another wall mounted case next to the entrance to church offices.

    I guess this “liberal”, “caring”, “informed” church didn’t get the note from New England folks.

    *flag/banner replaced with a new one over the summer of 2022. So the church has doubled down

  13. Dfnslblty
    September 8, 2022 at 10:24

    Thankyou for your compassionate/feeling writing.

    However I would posit that American “leaders” have long used their logical minds while adding the terms “believing & feeling” as a dishonest display of harmony with their subject & lesser plebeians.

    You mention – then fail to follow up on Jame’s, Jung’s, Freud’s and Chesterton’s beliefs & feelings which motivate their rational/logical writings and counsel.

    Neoliberal, oppressive, sociopathic and unfeeling politicians wield whips, bullets, hypocrisy and greed in today’s world.

    Economic inequality has separated citizens. This belief will logically lead to change/revolution or to extinction.

    • D.H.Fabian
      September 8, 2022 at 13:05

      I anticipate the collapse of the US, presumably becoming a military dictatorship. There will be no revolution because the chunk of the population most likely to “rise up” were successfully divided and conquered, middle class vs. poor, further split by race and politics.

  14. pjay
    September 8, 2022 at 09:59

    In a previous life, before he sold out and became completely absorbed into the Borg, comedian Stephen Colbert had a great routine built around the concept of “truthiness,” which was precisely belief based on feelings rather than facts. Fits right in here. Back then Colbert applied it mainly to conservatives, but also ripped media “stenographers” reproducing Bush administration propaganda. Now it is much more applicable to “liberal” true believers in Russiagate and our “humanitarian” mission in Ukraine – but Colbert has moved on.

  15. Nigel Lim
    September 8, 2022 at 06:58

    Interesting conjecture, though I’m not a fan of Patrick Lawrence’s (in my view simplistic) reading of Clifford and James. For instance, his mention of James’ line on “our passional and volitional nature” was not accompanied with the following line by James: “When we look at others, it seems as if they could do nothing when the intellect had once said its say”.

    I also find the ‘thinking / feeling’ distinction drawn here quite schematic. It may be true that Americans as a whole do too little thinking, but the ‘passional and volitional nature’ of our convictions must be faced up to and paid equal attention – the solution to the moral crisis seems to lie as much in the (re-)learning of empathy, justice and the values that are espoused but barely practised, as in the dispassionate interaction of logic and fact.

    • peon d. rich
      September 8, 2022 at 11:04

      Yes, empathy. There is no ‘objective world’ without it since we must constitute others as being like ourselves and having a perspective of the things that appear to us solipsistically (this is a kind of cobbled Husserl).

  16. September 8, 2022 at 05:51

    Thoughts on our attachment to causes I wrote several years ago.

    For the Cause
    (Reflecting on the “Live Earth” concerts, summer 2007)

    With vehement passion,
    we stand in anger’s dread to stop the nuclear power
    that generates the life support system
    our clutching grip on life demands.
    No thrift, no simplified life required.

    (Just carry the sign, comrade.)

    While Al Qaeda, in bidding war,
    whose weapons of fear and hate
    predate recorded history,
    drives us
    in fear’s response
    to send off in constant vigilance the B-52 and its
    thermo-destructive superiority and ultimate suppression.
    We press on with duty to country.

    (Support the troops, patriot.)

    At the same time, the PC mindful,
    whose checkbooks grew fatter but from
    the Capitalist unfettered accumulation of all,
    write a check to some environmental cause
    as the oblation for so many
    first-class upgrades in the jet-stream.
    And the stadium parking lot packs,
    with rows of personal oversized transport
    with their global warming bumper-stickers
    to hear the mega-watt juice of another rock concert,
    to “save the planet”
    from the millions
    like themselves.

    (Buy a carbon offset, progressive.)

    Our causes perpetuate so much use of resource
    (we hold as detestable),
    while our grip holds secure to the toys of our comfort.
    Darkness and silence offer more light than fear,
    but fear’s grip demands noise, activity, protest.

    (Vote the party back into power, citizen.)

    Come stillness.
    Unplug us from the strident media and
    antagonistic discourse of so many barbarian zealots.
    Let the march stop with our rightful distrust
    of information without wisdom.
    Speak to us,
    Quiet Spirit,
    through the whispering details
    of nature’s re-creation around us.
    Save us from the saviors of so many self-serving causes.
    And bring us, wholly,
    to gentle reason
    and humble peace within.

    (Love all, my daughter, my son.)

    From “Looking Out onto Our World”

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