Thoughtful and Respectful Disagreements

Before I return to the coding and data entry before me, I wanted to jot down some quick notes on this latest piece from The Atlantic Monthly by Larry Alex Taunton, “Listening to Young Atheists, Lessons for a Stronger Christianity” (June 6, 2013). Whether Christian or atheist, the specific note comes in the form of this quote by Taunton:

I find talking to people who disagree with me much more stimulating than those gatherings that feel a bit too much like a political party convention, and the exchanges with these students are mostly thoughtful and respectful.

This is why we have institutes such as the Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding and why we support and fund thinkers such as John Voll, among others. The words “thoughtful” and “respectful” are crucial, though, because these exchanges (the ones I have viewed) can easily turn into reactionary diatribes. To get a bit pedantic: in many ways — whether one is reading or thinking about Darwin or grand theological thinkers — individuals throughout time have been searching for the origins of humanity. We want to deeply know locally and globally where we came from, because this will give us a bearing on why we are here, and also direct us to what we ought to be doing in preparation for tomorrow. Only through thoughtful and respectful dialog with one another will we be able to sharpen that knowledge, and who knows where it will lead.

This, of course, is why certain thinkers in the 20th century Western World held up the ideal of the free and open exchange of ideas (whether this was real or mythical is important but not of concern here). One final thought, ancillary but somewhat related, is this: while one of those free market thinkers in the first half of the 20th century fatalistically charted a future road to serfdom (see F.A. Hayek, The Road to Serfdom [March 1944]), it seems like there is room in the 21st century for someone to consider a fatalistic monograph with the tentative title, The Corporate Road to Serfdom. (side note: I’m not much for fatalism, so I would be interested in reading this for the sake of conversation rather than belief). I haven’t the time to consider something like this now. But I’m sure it would get the attention of large ideological factions.

So here on the memorial of D-Day, we might ponder this one final-final fatalistic piece of fiction: a future world war will not require the tank divisions, navies and airforces to be labeled with flags of nation-states, but rather they will have multinational corporate labels such as “Google,” “GE,” “Dupont,” “ADM” and “Monsanto.” This, of course, is extremely dangerous to humanity, because corporations are beholden to generating industrial profits for shareholders rather than upholding ideals of liberal, democratic-republics. But again, that’s another point of long conversation that will not be settled in a simple blog entry (perhaps it is better for a graduate seminar in political philosophy and business school). Nonetheless, back to my data entry…

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