Monday, October 15, 2007

Blog Action Day 2007:

Dawn of the Second Age of Enlightenment

Blog Action DayThe 15th of October, 2007 is the first Blog Action Day. Many thousands of bloggers around the globe are joining forces to raise awareness of a single issue — this year the environment. Just as importantly, it is about demonstrating the power of unity, and the ability of a united world to change for the better. The Guru has signed up to be a part of the event — one that holds great promise.

The First Age of Enlightenment

In American Dream; Global Nightmare we looked at the aspirational vision of America’s Founding Fathers – one of wisdom, unity, integrity and freedom — and how their society sadly transmuted to one of stupidity, divisiveness, self-interest, and oppression. This corruption, though, was a result of the new experiment of capitalism, and not an inherent weakness within the foundations that had been laid. And the inspired thinking of Abraham Lincoln and others was made possible by The Age of Enlightenment.

Thinker with a green background —
Rodin’s Thinker (1879-89) ponders hard

Philosophers, thinkers and statesmen of the day were inspired by the quantum leap in scientific understanding gained from the work of Sir Isaac Newton. They realised that if intellect could win out over centuries-old dogma in the area of physics, there was no reason not to apply new thinking to old problems in all fields of scientific endeavour, as well as law-making, government, morality, and so on.

They also saw that the Roman Catholic Church had been holding back man’s potential, stubbornly clinging to a Medieval view of the world. The philosophes rejected many aspects of Roman Catholicism, including the concept of original sin and emphasis on a hereafter. The Church wielded great political power (something of an understatement for the horrors of the Inquisition!) and dissent was a dangerous business. No wonder, then, that activists of the Enlightenment used the motto ‘Dare to know!’

The Second Age of Enlightenment

The first Enlightenment was difficult to propagate because most people were illiterate, and were indoctrinated from an early age by the Church. Today, over seven out of ten adults in the world have at least basic skills in reading and writing, and (thanks partly to internet cafés) a similar number have internet access. And the truth, as Mulder would say, is out there!

Today’s widespread lack of enlightenment has very different causes. In the developed world, these include apathy, biased media reporting, individual and government self-interest, corporate lobbying/manipulation and information overload. And the religious dogma of old remains, notably in the US. The good news is that there is a strong movement for change. People the world over (even the CEOs of huge multinationals, historically some of the worst offenders) have realised that unchecked Global Warming would be disastrous for all of humanity — including them.

Latter-day Newton, Stephen Hawking,
is no lightweight

Blog Action Day is an opportunity for individuals around the world to realise that the ultimate power rests with them collectively, not the corporations, not lone countries, not even the reckless and inept leadership of the one remaining Superpower. They need only become free thinkers to achieve unity, because the answers are the same for all of us.

Tackling climate change is humanity’s ultimate test. It will cause us to re-evaluate our values, philosophies and moral codes. Priorities will change. ‘Continuous economic growth’ will be seen for what it is — an oxymoron. Collaboration will strengthen local and global communities. Sustainability will become the watchword. In short, enlightenment will prevail. For us to have any chance of sustaining a population of 6.5 billion it has to.

The internet has quietly been uniting us for the past 15 years. But it’s been more to do with a guy in California downloading a dodgy film from Thailand or a kid in Austria playing Doom with a mate in Fiji. The importance of blogging is articulately summed up on the Blog Action Day website. It is helping to foster free thinkers and encourage discussion, both important in overcoming the biggest obstacle to enlightenment in the 21st Century — apathy. Let the motto for the Second Enlightenment be ‘Care to know!’

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