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For some time I’ve been puzzling over why the USA seems to be more ill-mannered and hot tempered than when I was a boy. There are some simple explanations:

A – Things aren’t really “worse” . When I was a lad,  I was oblivious to the ongoing nastiness of the nation.  We haven’t gotten worse; it is only more obvious to me.

B- Better and faster communication makes the amount and intensity of internecine battles more apparent.  If there is a fight in Timbuktu we are immediately made aware of it. It is seen on the internet – over and over and over.

C – Another hypothesis is there is more nastiness because there are more of us.  A pastor friend points out a world population of 7 billion containers of Original Sin is a lot more hazardous than 3 billion.

D- I sometimes think excessive coffee drinking and the invention of the strip-mall are the more likely culprits, but I am saying nothing……

But here is the Spo-hypothesis for why Americans are so irascible, polarized, and uncompromising.

I think the most destructive element in our society is the desire for Certainty. Ancient dogmas and paradigms are eroding.  Belief systems are less certain as science develops and multiple cultures and viewpoints meet up with each other and reshape the country. People’s faith in religious organizations and government isn’t so certain as it was.

Gray is a very scary colour.

It is hoped in times of uncertainty we will rise to the occasion and seek  Truth. Truth and Certainty are not the same. If you pursue Truth, then you would be glad to learn you are wrong, for you are not afraid to change. Certainty is more dangerous, for behind the desire of Certainty is the desire to be right.  If you are right you are never wrong. This is destructive. When you are certain, your opponents are stupid or dishonest. Add religion to the Certainty and your opponents are demonic.  History shows when someone or some institution is Certain, the only way to deal with others is to convert or kill all opponents.

So- If we are going to come together and get along with other nations, religions, or political organizations, then we have to give up the insane and destructive need for Certainty.

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October 2011

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