This archived article was written by: Nathaniel Woodward
Democracy is faltering. The divisions between citizens of every nation are becoming increasingly deep as the rifts push away from one another. Party politics are not what they once were, there is no longer a middle ground. This game of political cat and mouse, scapegoating buffoonery has us so entrenched in idealogical warfare that we have entirely forgotten what has made our species so advanced.
Science is being assaulted directly and indirectly as partisan clashes catch discovery in the crossfire leaving a trail of broken possibilities in the wake of pigheaded puffery that does nothing but entrench our citizenry. Conservatives actively assault concrete data on the climate while liberals push for legislation against genetically modified crops and meat which have zero-health risks and could potentially save millions of lives.
This assault on reason can be explained by Frederick Jackson Turner who argued during the creation of the National Parks System that the very idea of “frontier” is what spurred the process of democracy. The unknown possibilities of what rests beyond the frontier was the unifying force behind what made our species the wonder it has become. We made ungodly inventions, removed blind faith with solid evidence and cured plagues that once brought our species to the brink of extinction.
Yet somewhere in the last two decades, the art and wonder of discovery waned, intellectualism was vilified and the want to leave the planet a better place than when you entered it, was mocked. Exploitation is no longer the despicable word it was and progress for the benefit of the human race as a whole is a belief that makes you a “bleeding heart.” Shame on us, not Millennials, not Generation X, not Baby Boomers, us. We made this mess and we need to clean this up.
The reason why democracy is faltering is because we are failing to innovate, to discover, to emerge through a veil into an unknown and hostile territory where our survival hinges upon discovery and innovation. The price is steep, the unknown powers that is the cosmos demand recompense and sometimes it must come in the form of our best and our brightest.
When Challenger exploded, we mourned for our fallen, wiped away the tears and assaulted the unknown, again and again unabashedly daring the darkness to do its worst, we would no longer be afraid of the dark for it no longer scared us with its terrible possibilities. We made fear our ally and we moved forward, past the darkness and discovered a dawn filled with possibilities we couldn’t have imagined.
What is stopping us from once again assaulting that frontier? What are we afraid we might find? Freedom is the reward for discovery. Freedom from mysticism and myth, freedom from fear, want, anger and loss. Freedom from the intellectual captivity encroaching upon us from the oppressive fear of generations past. Free to make the cosmos a home where we can at last be equal.
Ronald Reagan said, “The future does not belong to the faint hearted, it belongs to the brave.” Be brave, dare to discover, challenge yourself to be a better person tomorrow than you are today and if you cannot do these things, place your faith in those who dedicate their lives to lifting others. Maybe one day, we will no longer be afraid of what makes us free.