Monday, December 8, 2008

We Didn't Start the Fire(bomb)

As I grow older, I become increasingly unimpressed with radicalism. To fancy oneself an iconoclast seems like foolhardy navel-gazing: it's both immature and irrational. Given the world population--6.7 billion--is it statistically likely that any "new" idea is not shared by someone else? I'd argue that ideas truly "outside the box" take time to percolate--and that the feats of iconoclasts are more about implementation than ideas. Newton wondered about the apple--but it was conceptualizing calculus that made him radical.

Nonetheless, there is a different kind of "radicalism" that equates political ideology with action--one that is dangerous, selfish, and equally pompous and myopic. Contributor Emil Henry pleads in the Washington Post for respite from the firebombs and vicious attacks by animal rights activists on scientists who use animal subjects in their research. It's appalling.

True radicalism is the willingness to spend a lifetime in the intellectual wilderness, patiently waiting for one's ideas to blossom, benefiting supporters and critics alike. Radicalism is creation, not destruction. Words do not exist to sufficiently to vituperate those who willfully, maliciously misunderstand.

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