says well we’ve had all these years ofwarfare over religion we’ll stop askingimportant questions and all thesedecades these centuries after theEnlightenment here’s the world we’vereached this is the way I read you youcan correct my reading but let me finishquoting you instead of violent warsthere could be violent video gamesinstead of heroic featsthere could be thrilling amusement parkrides instead of serious thought therecould be intrigues of all sortsin a soap opera it is a world wherepeople spend their lives amusingthemselves to death close quotenow that is a devastating indictment ofmuch of contemporary America correctwell it is I mean I think this has been06:59the trend of modernity now it’s it’s07:02it’s not as though politics has07:04disappeared though it’s it’s often just07:05gets displaced in various ways but but07:08yes I think there is this this07:10incredible degree to which we’ve we’ve07:14we’ve substituted the realities of07:18politics for these sort of increasingly07:20fictionalized worlds and and it’s07:23probably uh that’s probably a very very07:25unhealthy thing there’s sort of a07:27slightly different frame that I’ve often07:29given on this is is that in in the last07:3340 or 50 years there’s been a shift from07:36exteriority which I which you know doing07:41things in the real world to the sort of07:43interior world which is sort of in a way07:46can be thought of this also the shift07:47from politics to entertainment or07:50something like that and and the the from07:54a dr. Phil a the powerful frame I give07:57is you know almost exactly 50 years ago08:00today and you know July of 1969 men08:03reached the moon and three weeks later08:05Woodstock began and with the benefit of08:07hindsight we can say that that’s when08:10you know progress ended and when the08:12hippies took over the country or08:14something like that and then we’ve had08:16we’ve had this incredible shift to08:18interior tea in the decades since then I08:20would include things like the drug08:22counterculture I would include08:24videogames you know maybe a lot of08:27entertainment more generally you know08:30there’s sort of parts of the internet08:31that can be scored both ways but but08:34certainly there all these things where08:36we’ve shifted towards the you know your08:39world of yoga meditation there’s a world08:41of interior culture that sort of and it11:04Rene Girard is in some ways theaddresses an aspect of human nature wellit’s it’s good it’s the very thing thatthe Enlightenment says no no don’t eventhink about such things rightyeah well the Enlightenment alwayswhitewashes violence it’s one of thethere are many things we can’t thinkabout an under Enlightenment reason butone one is certainly violence itself andand if you go to the anthropologicalmyth of the Enlightenment it’s the mythof the social contract so what happenswhen everybody is that everybody’selse’s throat what the Enlightenmentsays is everybody in the middle of thecrisis sits down and has a nice legalchat and draws up a social contract andthat’s maybe maybe that’s the foundingmyth the central lie of theEnlightenment if you will and whatGerrard says something very differentmust have happened and when everybody’sat everybody’s throat the violencedoesn’t just resolve itself and maybe itgets channeled against a a specificscapegoat where the war of all againstall becomes a war can of all against oneand then somehow gets resolved but in ain a very violent way and so I think youknow what what Gerrard and Schmidt orMachiavelli or you know the12:18judeo-christian inspiration all have in12:20common is this idea that human nature is12:22problematic its violent it’s um you know12:25it’s it’s it’s it’s it’s it’s not12:27straightforward at all what what you do
There is more to China than it’s current prominence in global affairs. In this enlightening talk, Kerry Brown reflects on China’s rise and invites us to question our understanding of the country, its people and its values. How did China transform within a few decades to the global powerhouse it is today and what does a future with China in the steering wheel hold for the rest of the world?
Advice from the Enlightenment: In the face of crude bullying and humorless lies, try wit and a passion for justice.
We are living through a climate change in politics. Bigotry, bullying, mendacity, vulgarity — everything emitted by the tweets of President Trump and amplified by his followers has damaged the atmosphere of public life. The protective layer of civility, which makes political discourse possible, is disappearing like the ozone around Earth.
How can we restore a healthy climate? There is no easy answer, but some historic figures offer edifying examples. The one I propose may seem unlikely, but he transformed the climate of opinion in his era: Voltaire, the French philosopher who mobilized the power of Enlightenment principles in 18th-century Europe.
.. To those encountering him for the first time, Voltaire can look like a historical curiosity. His archaic wig and libertine wit seem to belong to a forgotten corner of the past. Moreover, he can be considered a conservative. He curried favor with the high and mighty, especially Louis XV. He was so deeply committed to the cultural system developed under France’s previous ruler, Louis XIV, that he would fail any test of political correctness today. And Voltaire opposed education for the masses because, he said, someone had to tend the fields.
.. So, forget the wig. But reconsider the wit. Nothing works better than ridicule in cutting bigots down to size. “I have never made but one prayer to God,” Voltaire wrote, “a very short one: ‘O Lord, make my enemies ridiculous.’ And God granted it.” The first of the two most powerful weapons in his arsenal was laughter: “We must get the laughter on our side,” he instructed his auxiliary troops in the salons of Paris.
.. Ridicule works outside salons. We in America have Stephen Colbert on television. We had H.L. Mencken in the newspapers and Mark Twain in books. Yet wit can sound elitist, and Voltaire cultivated the elite, especially in his youth, when he celebrated wealth, pleasure and the good things of life. His poem “Le Mondain,” written in 1736, is an apology for worldly luxury — “the superfluous, a very necessary thing,” he wrote, in opposition to Christian asceticism.
That was Voltaire the young libertine. But now, in our contemporary crisis, I propose that we look also to Voltaire the angry old man. It was in his old age, during the 1760s and 1770s, that he wielded his second and most powerful weapon, moral passion.
In 1762 Voltaire learned about a case of judicial murder. The Parlement (high court) of Toulouse had condemned a Protestant merchant, Jean Calas, to be tortured and executed for supposedly killing his son, who supposedly had intended to convert to Catholicism. Not only were the suppositions wrong, but strong evidence pointed to Calas’s innocence.
Voltaire seized his pen. He composed the “Treatise on Tolerance,” one of the greatest defenses of religious liberty and civil rights ever written. He also wrote letters, hundreds of them, to all his contacts in the power elite — ministers, courtiers, salon leaders and fellow philosophers, working from the top down and manipulating the media of his day so skillfully that he created a tidal wave of public opinion, which would ultimately lead to the recognition of rights for Protestants in 1787, nine years after he died.
Voltaire ended many of those letters with a rallying cry, “Écrasez l’infâme” — “Crush the vile thing.” For him, the meaning of “l’infâme” could be extended from intolerance to superstition and injustices of all kinds. The opposing notion of tolerance shaded off into broader values, including civility — the virtue that we need so much today and that Voltaire identified with civilization. Voltaire saw the triumph of civilization over barbarity as the ultimate good inscribed in the historical process. He made the message clear in his most ambitious work, “Essai sur les moeurs et l’esprit des nations”— “Essay on the Manners and Spirit of Nations” — a survey of world history that he first published in 1756 and revised and expanded until his death in 1778.
What more can we aspire to in the age of Trump? The opposition to bigotry and the defense of civil rights once again call for a commitment to the cause of civilization. They require moral passion seasoned with wit.
The effectiveness of action depends on the source from which it springs. If it is coming out of the false self with its shadow side, it is severely limited. If it is coming out of a person who is immersed in God, it is extremely effective. The contemplative state, like the vocation of Our Lady, brings Christ into the world. —Thomas Keating 
.. I founded the Center for Action and Contemplation in 1987 because I saw a deep need for the integration of both action and contemplation. Over the years, I met many social activists who were doing excellent social analysis and advocating for crucial justice issues, but they were not working from an energy of love. They were still living out of their false self with the need to win, the need to look good—attached to a superior, politically correct self-image.
They might have the answer, but they are not themselves the answer. In fact, they are often part of the problem. That’s one reason that most revolutions fail and too many reformers self-destruct from within. For that very reason, I believe, Jesus and great spiritual teachers first emphasize transformation of consciousness and soul. Without inner transformation, there is no grounded or lasting reform or revolution. When subjugated people rise to power, they often become as dominating as their oppressors because the same demon of power hasn’t been exorcised in them.
We are easily allured by the next new thing, a new agenda that looks like enlightenment. And then we discover it’s run by unenlightened people who, in fact, love themselves first of all but do not love God or others. They do not really love the Big Truth, but they often love control. Too often, they do not love freedom for everybody but just freedom for their own ideas.
Untransformed liberals often lack the ability to sacrifice the self or create foundations that last. They can’t let go of their own need for change and cannot stand still in a patient, compassionate, and humble way. It is no surprise that Jesus prayed not just for fruit, but “fruit that will last” (John 15:16). Untransformed conservatives, on the other hand, tend to idolize anything that lasts, but then avoid the question, “Is it actually bearing any fruit?” This is the perennial battle between idealism and pragmatism, or romanticism and rationalism.
If we are going to have truly prophetic people who go beyond the categories of liberal and conservative, we have to teach them some way to integrate their needed activism with a truly contemplative mind and heart. I’m convinced that once you learn how to look out at life from the contemplative eyes of the True Self, your politics and economics are going to change on their own. I don’t need to teach you what your politics should or shouldn’t be. Once you see things contemplatively, you’ll begin to seek the bias from the bottom instead of the top, you’ll be free to embrace your shadow, and you can live at peace with those who are different. From a contemplative stance, you’ll know what action is yours to do—and what is not yours to do—almost naturally.