What Is Your Dangerous Idea?
Shards of glass, slippery floors, an M-16, asbestos—- these are dangerous. But ideas? Dangerous? I borrow the question from a book by John Brockman. No, this is not a book review. (That said, it’s a good book, read it.) Brockman says sharing ideas can be dangerous because new ways of thinking, “call into question many of our basic assumptions of who we are, of what it means to be human.” You know the big names, Copernicus, Galileo and Darwin. The lesser known folks didn’t make it to print, or were thwarted by the guillotine.
Here, I solicit your dangerous idea. No, I’m not referring to harmful technologies, racist, and fanatical ideas, or unfounded conspiracy theories. Brockman said it better than I. “An idea you think about (not necessarily one you originated) that is dangerous not because it is assumed to be false, but because it might be true.” You know the ones. Have you ever been to a party when some inebriated friend starts proposing ideas that just might have merit? No, neither have I. But, those conversations happen. Around the dinner table, water cooler, at the worksite or in a fishing boat. People share dangerous ideas in safe environments. The following are some examples from better-known intellects of our time.
–Should our political system be based more on empathy? (Simon Baron-Cohen)
–Can technology untie the United States? (Juan Enrizuez)
–Democracy may be on its way out. (Haim Harari) –Can drugs change the patterns of human love? (Helen Fisher)
–The fight against global warming is lost (Paul C.W. Davies)
And a few more:
Would the legalization of prostitution reduce the frequency of rape? Do most victims of sexual abuse suffer no lifelong damage? Do humans really exercise free will?
Ok, you’ve had these ideas, right?
Maybe you think a small house is
more “green” than a large house,
but would never reveal it to your
wealthy liberal tree hugger friend
building a 5000 sq. ft house on the
hill. Perhaps your religious anti-
abortion friend cares more about a
fetus than providing health care to
those currently living out lives of hardship. There are a lot of reasons we don’t share dangerous ideas, especially in print.
You may be wrong. Friends may find out how you really feel. Your spelling and grammar are off. You get nervous talking to “pillars of the community”—those with perceived power, nicer clothes, and more money. But, the onus is on you. Democracy is messy and it’s our job to make it messier. The disease of deceit, well- intended or not, is an epidemic. Mark Twain said, “A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth
is putting on its shoes.” But Justice Louis Brandeis provides a remedy, “Sunlight is the best disinfectant.”
Here is my dangerous idea.
The wholesale distribution
of information should not be the domain of journalists and corporations (by “corporations”, I’m including politicians 🙂
Let’s face it, the means of production are controlled by the distributors. Wal-Mart can easily make or brake a factory. Movie companies decide who makes what film and where it is shown. Media
has a disproportional voice. Rick Steves, a well- known travel writer once threatened to omit an entire town from his travel book if they did not provide
a way to check luggage for him and his followers. They didn’t, so, he did—delete. That’s power. Seems disproportional to me.
What if we, the citizenry, took it one step further? What if we act like journalists, by journalizing
our lives, experience, expertise, and insight. Then we share it, online and in print? That’s dangerous. What if we lack credibility? What if we get negative comments? What if our feelings
get hurt? All valid concerns! I was recently at a party when I heard someone refer to the Herald Journal as the Herald Urinal. I thought it
an unfair accusation for several reasons—too many to discuss here.
Is there something lacking? Did the HJ News miss something? Whatever journalists do, you can do too. It’s not like cutting hair or fishing. You don’t
need a license to write and share. Toni Morrison said, “If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” I say if there’s an article you want to read, go write it.
Send your dangerous idea to the Voice. email@example.com