Attention, fanatics!

September 9, 2011

Liberals! Conservatives! Libertarians! Anarchists! Followers of Chairman Mao! Members of the Hitler Youth! And any other fanatics I may have missed.

Would you please read this, published in France (as Pour en finir avec le Moyen Age) in 1977 and realize that this is just what you are doing, day in and day out!

Listen!

“The study of history brings to youth the experience that is lacking to it; it can help the adolescent to overcome his most usual temptation: to be exclusive, to condemn in advance some particular tendency, person, or group; to have a vision of the universe limited only to his own vision (and if only this were a matter merely of adolescents!).”

– Regine Pernoud, Those Terrible Middle Ages: Debunking the Myths.

Fanaticism, tunnel-vision, rejection of alternative views of things, the implicit assumption that you are always right is killing us. And it’s tiresome to watch.

Oh, don’t worry, I realize that I fall into it myself. But what seems to me (erroneously perhaps) is that most of my friends consider themselves competent to judge the thought of others, and competent to avoid error. Even when I fall into that pit, it is against my grain, and I eventually struggle out again. But if you think it’s possible to be always right, and if you feel comfortable dismissing anyone whose thought diverges from yours, God help you.

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