From the Editor

John Turner

I waked this morning with a snatch of a poem running through my mind:

"In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row."

And I realized, with perhaps more force than I ever have before, that I have become bitingly weary with the folly of mankind.

I wonder how long we're going to keep on enabling:

Stentorian calls for valor from fools.

Journalistic chirping from brains so fluffy that if they weren't confined inside
skulls they would float away and be dissipated in any breeze that happened by.

Hypocrites claiming to voice the words of God.

I think it's time to stop. And to those who say these things have been with us forever I reply that just because something has been here up till now doesn't mean it has to persist forever after. I refuse to believe that these practices are inherent parts of human nature. They are indulgences which can be put away.

I know I have argued elsewhere for facing reality and that folly of the sort I've listed above is a reality right now. Yet I think we shouldn't forget, there's reality we create for ourselves and reality that has been created for us. There's gravity, for example, and then there's stupidity. They are not the same sort of things.

Human history is not just eternal spinning. It moves away from where it was. And the direction it moves is up to us. I'm not going to solve the problem of determinism and free will here. But since at least a part of us is forced to believe in free will, we may as well try to use it to move history in the right direction.

It's also true that we don't all want the same things. Consequently, there's bound to be pushing and shoving over the way history should move. Still, I suspect that if we put our minds to the difficulty, we would find there are some features we would almost all like to preserve, such as life, love, the pleasures of beauty, vigorous minds and healthy bodies, and something to do everyday that conveys a kind of eagerness. How we keep approaching them is a task for intelligence, and when I see that it is, I have to face the truth that intelligence is the only antidote to weariness, depression, and stupidity. So, I think all of you should be helping me acquire it.



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Harvard Square Commentary, October 2, 2006