How do you put the Genie back in the bottle? I find myself asking this question more and more these days when reflecting on the ongoing chaos that is occurring in the world. This can be an extreme view of things, but it is how the world can appear given the events that are going on. To preface this though, I should explain what it is I am referring to.
There is an old proverb that states ‘a little knowledge is a dangerous thing’. This is very true when it comes to taking a deep dive in to certain things that are going on around us. In particular, to the growing divide in many western nations driven by political ideologies and the growing distance between the left and the right. It can be easy to think that if you just avoid political discussion that this is easily fixed, however, it is not this simple. The growing chasm between these ideologies is pervasive in so many facets of our everyday lives that we can go about our daily business and not even realize it. Whether its groups calling for more equality amongst genders, more/less spending on programs for the vulnerable, defense spending, fossil fuel reductions, religious tolerance or making safe spaces for young adults at university, they all have a place in certain ideology.
It is well documented that the increasing influence of the left in the Humanities has brought about such a change in society that the very idea of free speech, or even free thoughts in some cases, has been under attack. The right has also seen a rise in the extremities with increase in hate speech and forming of pro nationalist political parties lobbying against the increase in immigration.
What happens when you start looking in to all the various connotations and arguments that are available, you run the risk of increasing your knowledge of what drives these issues and in doing so educating yourself on philosophical ideas of how humans should live. This can be from Socialism through to Capitalism and any number in between. The challenge is setting on one that resonates with yourself. But it doesn’t end there. By becoming more aware of wider philosophical arguments that exist, you then also build up a resistance to those you may disagree with. Simplest form of this is the atheist versus theist argument.
You can become exposed to authors and speakers that have opinions in each camp and discovering more and more that reinforces your knowledge. This in turn opens up new topics as you expose yourself to more material. A true form of enlightenment. What do you do with this knowledge or the burning desire to know have an informed opinion? This can be the problem. Once you put your thoughts out into the real world you can soon realize that your words and ideas are lacking, too extreme, misconstrued or just ignored. Don’t let this put you off though. It helps to sharpen the mind against all sorts of rebuttals to your points of view.
So where is the downside? This new learning and knowledge take time and energy to maintain the momentum. Personally, I have found that the challenge is to stop and smell the roses occasionally and realize that although the world can be divided along different lines, there is still good to gaze upon and enjoy. Yes, there is still a good case to stay interested in world affairs, but there is a risk of it becoming all consuming. I haven’t quite learnt yet to apply the handbrake as much as I would like as I am still filling my head with new knowledge.
Putting the Genie back in the bottle may be impossible once you have let it out. There is a long way from a personal interest in events and issues to be the next Jordan B. Peterson though. Although I encourage everyone to broaden their minds, I can’t deny that sometimes ignorance is bliss.