29 January 2007

Extra-curricular Reading

For some extra credit points on my completely arbitrary point scale, check out this afterward by Orson Scott Card to his novel Empire, which I am going to bump way up on my reading list:

It is part of human nature to regard as sane those people who share the worldview of the majority of society. Somehow, though, we have managed to divide ourselves into two different, mutually exclusive sanities. The people in each society reinforce each other in madness, believing unsubstantiated ideas that are often contradicted not only by each other but also by whatever objective evidence exists on the subject. Instead of having an ever-adapting civilization-wide consensus reality, we have became a nation of insane people able to see the madness only in the other side.

Does this lead, inevitably, to civil war? Of course not -- though it's hardly conducive to stable government or the long-term continuation of democracy. What inevitably arises from such division is the attempt by one group, utterly convinced of its rectitude, to use all coercive forces available to stamp out the opposing views.

Such an effort is, of course, a confession of madness. Suppression of other people's beliefs by force only comes about when you are deeply afraid that your own beliefs are wrong and you are desperate to keep anyone from challenging them. Oh, you may come up with rhetoric about how you are suppressing them for their own good or for the good of others, but people who are confident of their beliefs are content merely to offer and teach, not compel.

Wow. Can I just tell everyone how much I agree with OSC? Seriously, the man is a genius--meaning, of course, that he seems to think almost exactly like I do. This is great.

And this great testament to the importance of the church as an organization. Of course, only a business professor could have written it, but it's definitely a good answer to the worries I expressed last week. Of course, the Church is more than a service organization, but that is a substantial purpose of it. Plus there's a great anecdote in there about Mitt Romney:
The important point about the prior paragraph is that our experience was not unusual. Everyone in the congregation was similarly serving, not just accepting assignments to help, but seeking opportunities to help. We gave often, and received often. For example, a short time later our family had out-grown our small home, so we found a larger one and put the word out that we would appreciate any help in loading and unloading our rented moving truck. Among those who showed up that morning was Mitt Romney, now the governor of Massachusetts, who had just completed his unsuccessful campaign for the U.S. Senate in Massachusetts. Mitt had a broken collarbone, but for two hours traipsed between our home and the truck, carrying out whatever he could manage with his one good arm. That spirit is just in the air in the Mormon Church, week after week, year after year. The strong help the weak, and the weak help the strong, and nobody thinks about who is weak and who is strong. It creates an extraordinary spirit of mutual love, because as we work to help others who are in need, our love and respect for those we help intensifies.
He he!

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