This is the grimmest time of year, not just for me, but, for everyone I speak to.
I have the added ‘benefit’ of post Ramadan ‘something or another, call it the Post Ramadan Blues. Ramadan was difficult but provided a certain coherence, there were obligations and a structure, an adherence following the dictates of self imposed list of intentions. There was the freedom brought by the almost total isolation I experiences. I knew that, by and large, I was acting in a manner approved by Allah (SWT). However, there was a toll, my poor digestive system forgot what it was supposed to be doing, rebelling against the onslaught of food. I was in a state of total exhaustion, sleep provided relief but could not get enough of it.
As if that were not enough, along came the deadlines imposed by Canadian taxation. I know people that do their own taxes – they are certifiably insane, in my humble opinion. I have always, my whole life, paid a tax accountant and prepared that awesome person ahead of time. Worry free! Now I have two, US and Canada . Such a fine pair, such a matched set – work so well together. There has been a dire financial crisis, I owe a lot of money.
The upcoming provincial election is bringing gloom, doom and negativity. This topic was explored on the April 22, 2023 blog.
Then along came a diversion, appearing in my Inbox, the Walrus newsletter speaking of ideas, a refreshing point of view.
“Recently, as the gloom has deepened further, our rounding up of the usual suspects—the incompetence of our leaders, the savage swamp that is the internet, the frantic polarization of politics—has given way to a kind of chronic epistemological unease, as if we have begun to realize that we have trapped ourselves inside frames of thought that point us away from reality and not toward it. The trouble is that too many people find comfort and safety in those frames and resist the instability—another term for open mindedness—that results from questioning them.
A brilliant analysis – so many people resist open-mindedness, they find, it represents instability. They resemble drones, wandering about trapped inside stagnate modes of thought. Drones are stable, everyone would have to admit this.
The refreshing article, written by Michael Ignatieff, Why You Need to Think for Yourself has a dreamy subtitle: Faced with increasing pressure to box in our imaginations, we can still dream up a better world.
“I have been a college teacher for some of the happiest years of my life. When I tell people what I do for a living—what I really do—I say I teach people to think for themselves. It’s still a wonderful way to make a living, but over time, I have begun wondering whether I have been fooling myself. I could just be teaching them to think like me or how to package the conventional wisdoms they have scraped off the Internet. I find myself wondering, therefore, what it really means to think for yourself—what it means for teachers, for students, and for a society that tells itself it is free.”
Thinking for yourself, Ignatieff tells us does not require originality but the ability to make authentic choices after wrestling free “from the call of the tribe and the peddlers of disinformation” The resulting stillness allows you to start thinking on you own.
This ‘dumbing down’ begins in the classroom and goes on from there. “The contradiction that teachers face in their classrooms—Are we teaching them how to think, or are we teaching them how to think like us?—plays out across our whole society.”
I do appreciate irony, and hence appreciate this sentence: “This frantic search to give our time a shape and a meaning makes me wonder whether the new technologies that so accelerate the exchange of information are in fact having a spectacularly ironic effect: instead of incubating new ideas, are they coagulating conformity? Clever choice of words; not incubating a new idea instead coagulating conformity.
The article is lengthly, overly burdened by impressive words, in my opinion. There was even a longer version. A longer version originally appeared in the Winter 2023 issue of Liberties. Reprinted with permission. It is possible to link on the longer version by clicking on appeared.
I did find three simple hints; To Dos for Thinking for Oneself.
- We can arrive at strict standards for what counts as authority and choose to trust people who are in a position to know.
- The point is not to think originally but to think critically.
- If thinking for yourself is the goal of your life, then it pays to maintain a certain distance from the institutions in which you work and live. Distance implies wariness. If thinking for yourself is your goal, do not go looking for the comfort of belonging because belonging is not the fondest dream of a serious intellectual. She dreams of other satisfactions first.
The April 24, 2023 AB Today brought news to further brighten my mood.
“Friday is the deadline Premier Danielle Smith’s lawyer gave to the CBC to apologize and withdraw its coverage of conversation with justice officials about covid prosecutions or face a defamation lawsuit.”
Why did I find that amusing? Being a lawyer does have some advantages, believe that or not. This from my knowledge of legal theory and years of practicing law: truth is an absolute defense to defamation. CBC, in its defense, will win the case if it can prove that Premier Danielle Smith conversed with justice officials about covid prosecutions. As far as I am aware, there is no doubt that she did. The court case will receive much media attention and her actions will be in the spotlight. This does not seem to be a very good idea, particularly on the eve of an election.
The April 25, 2023 AB Today brought this news: Asked about the deadline her lawyers gave CBC ahead of launching a defamation lawsuit coming up on Friday, Smith dodged the question.”
Trump was not known for hiring the brightest and the best attorneys, Rudy Giuliani being a famous example. Trump and Premier Danielle Smith share several personality traits, this previously discussed on the blog.
More optimism and hope can be found by following the Instagram links provided. One is a speech made by (I do believe) the King of Jordan. https://www.instagram.com/reel/CrIr40jgPyL/?igshid=MDJmNzVkMjY= The other a response to the question What is the Quran? https://www.instagram.com/reel/Cp5tAPfDbAJ/?igshid=MDJmNzVkMjY=
This portion of the blog is being written on Tuesday morning. Last night I was awakened in the middle of the night, looked out my window to an amazing vision. I immediately grabbed my iPhone and snapped, not truly believing my eyes. The first photo captures the lights of Edmonton, the lights did mask the vision in the sky. The city lights were removed in the second photo, a close up of a a perfect crescent moon. I was (and am) enraptured. It seemed like a message meant for my eyes, because I had just awoken from a prophetic dream.