Monday, November 14, 2011

Of Ideas, Bears, Radicalism and Wolves

Often, a man's (or a woman's) head runs, regardless of intent, into a trace of thought which leads to the formation of a concept that is alien or opposite in cultural (and other) aspects, bringing said thinker to form the conclusion that is: said thought is taboo. However, once in every blue moon, someone comes along and speaks their mind out. The dynamics of such a situation can be illustrated quite accurately by a particularly strange model of a bear and a pack of wolves.

We can represent the people by the wolves; the culture, religion, tradition, etc. of the people is the bear, and the pack of wolves and the bear are about to clash. To begin with, the people must have an idea that is not so radical that is for themselves to refuse it (think of the bear being too big for the pack of wolves to consider it for a fight), and the people must not be in comfort with their customs (the bear and the wolves aren't the best of friends).

Now in accordance to hunting sequences, the first step would be for the wolves to corner the bear. For the sake of simplicity (and the killing of dumb arguments), we will say that the ground beneath them and the surface on which the bear is cornered are both 100% flat and infinitely large, and there is nothing available to be used as weapons but their own bodies.

The second (and final) step is where one (or more) of the wolves steps up. This represents the number of people that agree to this radical idea opposing the norm; the more the people, the more the wolves unafraid of being first to challenge the bear. The bigger the bear, the higher the importance of customs and culture to the people. This is the most crucial step.

In most cases, the more radical the idea, the less amount of people taking it up, and the more the chances of the wolves' attack on the bear failing. If only one wolf takes a step forward with the rest being very hesitant and the bear hits him hard enough to kill him, the entire idea is dead. If many jump, and the bear is still too big, the idea is wiped off the face of history. However if even one wolf succeeds in mauling the bear, this can open up a flood of bravery within the other wolves, charging them into attacking the bear.

Remember: It is not the radicality of an idea that matters, but the logic behind it and its consequences; its pros and cons have to be weighed. Too often humans either outright refuse the idea without considering it like idiots or jump the wagon, once again like idiots. A civilized human, in my personal definition, is he/she who does not accept or refuse an idea or principle due to the acceptance or refusal of said principal by other humans.

"My dear Kepler, what would you say of the learned here, who, replete with the pertinacity of the asp, have steadfastly refused to cast a glance through the telescope?  What shall we make of this?  Shall we laugh, or shall we cry?" 
— Letter from Galileo Galilei to Johannes Kepler upon the Catholic Church's harsh treatment of the of the heliocentric model of the universe

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