by Leslee Kulba
Wild West blogger
Public meetings used to begin with invocations. It allowed public officials to admit their limitations and reach out to what now may only be referred to as a “higher power” for enlightenment and assistance with big decisions. Nowadays, when appeals to something larger than self are synonymous with offense, it has become trendy for members of Asheville City Council to replace supplications with quotes from hip mortals, running the gamut from Confucius to Balph Eubank.
This week, it was the intelligent and well-intending (The adjectives are used in this context with good intentions.) Marc Hunt’s turn to do the honors. He told about a book he is reading, Jonathan Haidt’s The Righteous Mind. I haven’t read it, but reviews, including Hunt’s, describe it as saying what people prefer not to admit about their race. For example, people are more inclined to spin to get ahead than to be honest all the time. They are also more inclined to react on a visceral level than follow through with logical conclusions.
Implicit is a portrayal of the world as liberals and conservatives, both with closed minds. People, as a general rule, decide upon conclusions and then rationalize them, and they are more inclined to criticize others’ views than their own. Haidt makes several credible assertions, but then he seems to push for eliminating taboos and, of course, embracing other value systems, which include systems with no values at all.
Frankly, I like taboos. Anybody who knows me would agree I make a great poster child for the casualties of moral relativism. Some people, like my parents, chose a path of hard work, integrity, and intelligence from which they derived economic stability. Others prefer instant gratification, entertainment, and habit which leads to dependency on the first group for maintenance. I even believe thriving economies can be built in communities where the majority wishes to follow the first course of action. But that’s just the opinion of one uneducated mass struggling to put words together in proper syntax on their little Moodle.
Hunt continued with a poem from Sun Tzu that held up as enlightenment that state where one finds peace by accepting everything as equally valid. (Having personally reached that state and deeming it equivalent to physical death, I did not hesitate to delight.) Coming up September 21 is the United Nation’s International Day of Peace. Tuesday, the mayor and city council proclaimed the celebration to apply to Asheville, and citizens are encouraged to participate in appropriate activities.
In light of goings-on in Libya, I would hope that if a major conflagration breaks out that day, I could be in the front line of the receiving end. That way, somebody else could write about it.