Reason is dying. I’m not the first person to express such a sentiment. I’m certainly not the most learned person to address the issue. But, in an age and country where facts, science, and intellect are no longer valued by a large portion of the population, that last point probably doesn’t matter. We are facing crises at every turn – a government attempting to recover after years of disarray, racial tension, an economy slowly recovering from near disaster, a pandemic run amok, and now a war that could easily engulf Europe and even spread to our continent. Reason is needed now, more than ever in my life time – yet it is her demise that has brought us to this very brink.
Reason is still alive, if barely. You will hear the voices of her adherents on occasion, speaking on any of the crises I mentioned above. They are notable as a refreshing breeze across a desert. Not because they agree with me, for there are followers of reason with whom I do not agree, but because of their ability to see multiple angles to a problem, support their position, acknowledge the validity of other views, and not take umbrage at a differing point of view.
There are those who claim to follow Reason, but they are easy to suss out as fakers. They write social media posts that have an air of reason – but ridicule or block you should you take even a partially counter position. Reason fakers cannot suffer actual reason, because they cannot accept that the world is made up of shades of gray and a rainbow of color. They can only see the world in mild gradients of white or black. They can be found at both ends of the political spectrum, where “you are either with us or against us!” is a favored rallying cry.
Then there are those who make no pretense at following or understanding Reason. Recent videos from a city council meeting, where red faced citizens made incoherent rants at city council members and doctors about how wearing masks “is literally killing people!” Millions of medical workers, not to mention many types of manufacturing and food service workers, have been wearing masks on a daily basis for over a century. There are no recorded deaths of those people from their daily, sometimes all day, mask wearing. Reason is ashamed of any argument made that masks are deadly.
The loss of reason is an epidemic spreading throughout the world. A father who’s son was injured in the Parkland shooting now says the victims were actors, including his own son. A Ukrainian citizen calls her mother in Russia to report her situation, her fears, the danger she faces. Mom indignantly refuses to believe that her Russia would do such things, it is the Ukraine government killing their own citizens!
I hear a lot of debate among experts on what has driven the demise of Reason. Social media tops most people’s list, as an accelerant if not a direct cause. More fuel on the fire is thrown by far right so called news channels, that propagate extreme views including blame, hate and nuanced calls for physical violence.
It is heartwarming the way the free world has responded to the Ukraine problem, and how this totally unnecessary invasion of a neighboring country has united governments and inspired protests even in “Mother Russia”. It would be nice to believe that this may mark a return of an “Age of Reason”, but unfortunately we still have proof of the lack of reason in our own country: witness the trucker convoys protesting mask and vaccine mandates. News flash, those mandates are disappearing and individuals and businesses are free to make their own choices in most if not all of the states!
What I wish for now is that a modicum of reason returns among the citizenry. Militias that think they could start a bloody revolution would realize the tragedy they are extolling. Russian citizens who want peace find a way to achieve it. Individuals, be they drivers, bikers, workers or neighbors find a way to be thoughtful and civil to each other. Above all peaceful entities, whether countries or individuals, are allowed to live their lives free of harassment or attack and fear of annihilation.
Live, love and take care of your world, this globe on which we all exist. Teach your brain to think, solve problems, and feel empathy for others. The Age of Reason was a time when people thought they could find happiness through knowledge and freedom. We need to keep our freedom, and disseminate factual, informative and accurate knowledge. Be kind, be smart, “live long, and prosper”.