I have been mulling over several articles regarding morality that I have read in the last few days prior to the great day in the Jewish calendar, Yom Kippur. Yom Kippur is all about personal stock taking. It is a calling to account for individual Jews, as a community, under G-d’s sovereignty – all of us together, mulling over the Kantian question, how would an ideal person and/or an ideal community behave if such things were possible.
I, also, have been working on launching my website, askabigailproductions, and continuing with my daily activities, which this week included attending the UN Women‘s Committee Luncheon in Ottawa honoring Joy Smith, an MP who has weorked long and hard on female and child traficking and the launch of Jonathon Kay’s new book, “The Truthers” at the JPPL, (Jewish Public Library) in Montreal.
Both the luncheon and the book launch focus on how we as individuals and as groups take on the deep moral responsibilities of this world. Jonathon Kay, in his book “The Truthers” has a chapter, (chapter 5, and of course I went straight to it) where he analyzes the psychological make-up of “truthers”, people like you and me, who are convinced that the collapse of the towers on 9/11 was an inside job by the US and/or Mossad, Holocaust deniers, believers in alien abductions, past lives, Scientologists, i.e. people who cling to a view of reality that is usually some form of a minority consensus, regarding a hidden conspiracy. According to his research, those who fall in the mental illness category are not a huge proportion and are easily distinguished because although they begin talking about these issues like normal people they soon lapse into some self referential proof for example that the Mossad, the FBI etc. is tracking them personally or some variation of that that is very close to home. The larger, roughly 95% mainly fall into the category of hubris, relying more and more on their own scientific and cognitive powers coupled usually with an elementary and predetermined mistrust (sometimes due to personal trauma) of any kind of authority represented by journalists, politicians, historians etc. Many are very intelligent, but also very suspicious of majority opinions and proofs. Due to their suspicions they become vulnerable to becoming followers of minority opinions that conform to their own suspicions. They become highly impenetrable to facts which do not conform to their suspicions. It is at this juncture that Jonathon says, the “truthers” share characteristics with those followers of religion who take on the ideology of their religion with 100% faith in the dogma represented, and are simply not open to dialogue or discussion regarding their beliefs or belief system. These obsessive personal conceptions of those believing in certain conspiracy theories and/or religious dogmas can then come to border on full fledged delusions.
We do live in a complex world and becoming a “truther” may be one of the pitfalls of not keeping up. If this subject interests you at all I refer you to a Canadian film which I happened to catch while on an Air Canada flight yesterday.
“When a journalist meets a man who is disengaged from greater society, she sends him on a journey of enlightenment to prove that the future does matter.” (92 min). This film takes you through the contemporary worlds of communication and science and makes them imaginitively accessible. I recommend it if you think you have heard it all and seen it all. Watch this film. And then tell me what you really believe.