I read an interesting, if a bit quirky, little book a short time back called "The Watchman's Rattle," whose premise is that over the history of our species, societies tend to grow in scale and sophistication… to the point of inevitable collapse, as a result of our mind's inability to cope with the resulting non-linear expansion of complexity. At the time I filed it under "imaginative pseudo-science."
The events of the past few years give pause however: Financial meltdown, precipitated by a greed-begat swan of black color and petards self-hoisted by corporate dandys of all pin-stripes. Political polarization to the point of absurdity ("I am not a witch") and dysfunction (state legislators scurrying away to avoid a quorum). Religious tectonics along the north 10th parallel fueling non-stop spasms of violence in one part of the globe, and the inevitable geologic tectonics of another creating apocolyptic convergences of failure — all amplified in emotive power while drained of reason by our media priests.
Where are the reasoned men, leading, teaching and serving as examples of the "practical wisdom" Aristotle pointed us toward?
Perhaps the complexities of our times simply overwhelm? If so, I believe it's because the noise, accelerating novelty and confusion sets up a fog, within which lesser men and ideas can maneuver and emerge into positions of power and influence.
We must learn to see through that fog.
Not with goggles that mask the realities and truths of our times, collapsing them down to kindergarten nuggets on blackboards using smarmy bombast posing as "truth."
Not with smarter-than-thou rhetoric that ignores basic values and fails to deal with the world as it is.
Rather, with a penetrating gaze that sees things as they are, and with the wisdom to choose leaders who apply calm and steadfast courage in mounting a reasoned response.
I don't hear a rattle. I hear a clarion call…