A Creation Question

Ah, so sweet the irrational mind
That grasps a dogma to humans unkind.
Extolling a truth, creating the line
That somehow their faith is superior to mine.

When I first wrote the above little ditty, I labored a long time over whether it would be the rational or irrational mind that believes what it will (does). We like to pride ourselves that we arrive at decisions/actions from a rational, reasoned perspective. Alas, sigh, but were it so.

So many examples from which to draw. Would a “humane” culture, for instance, create/countenance a healthcare system that doesn’t care for all its citizens? Should we contemplate (assuming carbon-based climate change is real) authorizing the Keystone Pipeline to transport, arguably, the dirtiest petroleum (Canadian oil sands) on the planet?

The above two examples require collective action based on a public debate of the pros & cons, the merits of the argument. Alas, sigh, but were it so. If I were unilaterally making policy I would answer “No” to both. I support universal healthcare for all Americans and would not “permit” the Keystone Pipeline.

But. I am sure you notice that there is a “But” to nearly every human decision. For example, should I logically pay for the “poor” decisions of my fellowman? If you smoke cigarettes today, is it possible that you do not know the accompanying health risks? I think not. If you are obese should your fellow citizens pay for your resulting diabetes and heart disease? Same goes for cigarettes.

The Keystone Pipeline will either take the “product” to Texas for refining or it will be piped across Canada to a Pacific port (refinery) and shipped to China. That’s a fact, Jack. The carbon is going to be released into Earth’s atmosphere regardless of whether or not the United States authorizes the pipeline. Here’s the reality. Deny the pipeline and the environment will still suffer but fewer Americans will be employed.

So what is the rational decision on either of these issues? And what exactly should be the “determining factors” for each? Does the creation of American jobs trump environmental desecration? Are we “morally” complicit—understanding what we do about carbon and climate change—by sanctioning the pipeline?

Are human beings exempt from accountability when it comes to personal healthcare issues? If, I, as an individual make a determination to smoke and/or be obese, should I expect those who do not smoke and/or who maintain a healthy body weight to subsidize my poor decisions?

Even more fundamentally, If I choose to control my fertility by having no more children than I can afford, should I be expected to subsidize the offspring of irresponsible adults who sire/bear children they cannot sustain? Is that fair (also consider: the resulting children)?

As odd as it may seem, we too often arrive at irrational decisions from a rational process—a rational process driven by our preconceived notions as to the truth-of-the-matter. In essence, we start a decision-making process flawed from its inception.

Rather than start from “the” truth, I recommend we begin from the pragmatic. Start from what works (Or, what we theorize might work). Sublimate the urge to argue/legislate/condemn based on your idea of “the” truth.

If you must, consider what works as “the” truth. (Read: Charles Pierce, John Dewey & Richard Rorty)

Ask: what are the realistic consequences of embracing this (any) viewpoint? And . . .

Importantly, what kind of a world are we creating for our grandchildren?