Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Matron in the train station

Saw an older woman handing out Watchtower tracts at the T this morning. I bet that work gives her a sense of purpose, and of dignity through purpose. And it's nice to know that she has a reason to be out of the house. Still, I'd much rather see her stumping for an ideology that didn't reject science, reject modernity, and demand impossible beliefs from the people interested in belonging to that community.

What kind of an ideology might that be? Well, it'd have to be a big one, else it wouldn't attract commitment and motivate behavior. But so many big ideas are also dangerous ideas. Radical fellowship opens the door to disfellowshipping; community belonging opens the door to shunning; values-based leadership opens the door to coercion, authoritarianism, and abuse.

Some days I'm such an optimist that I feel it wouldn't be such a difficult thing to articulate such an ideology, and stitch up a workable community structure around it, and release it into the wild. Then I think about the observable scarcity of such communities where benign values-in-action have resulted in flourishing and stable social situations, and I tuck my optimism back in my pocket and recommit to a more humble set of ambitions.

"It's easier to fool people than to convince them they have been fooled," Mark Twain wrote. (Or no, he didn't, but I will tell you that he didn't and you won't believe me.)

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