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The collective mind
by Jan Sand
2006-11-25 11:03:56
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G.B. Shaw once noticed that America and England were two nations divided by a common language, an observation that says a great deal about mutual understanding.

The world stumbles forward into a forbidding future, offering glittering possibilities of depletion of breathable air, oceans bereft of life, proliferation of radioactive weapons and garbage, pathological theological insanities capturing susceptible minds across all nations and novel viruses eagerly exploring chinks in our immunological armor. We're also fracturing the Ozone Layer permitting deadly ultra-violet radiation to spray across the Earth, and various gases blanketing the atmosphere to hot up our combative cultures, a vast intrusive network is pervading all corners of the world permitting humans to become better acquainted with each other's problems, purposes and prejudices.

There is, of course, a huge variation of language in the world, but the rapid blooming of the electronic communication industries through computer networks and through the ubiquitous cell phone is honing linguistic variety in a way that heads communication towards a universal language. Admittedly, there is still a long way to go in this direction but the communication is both linguistic and graphic, which considerably facilitates people to see quickly what is going on in the entire world.

Totalitarian governments, such as China and a few others nearby, have been fighting this flow of free information and, to an extent, they have been partially successful. But it looks to be that the informational tsunami will, in the long run, be unstoppable.

Nevertheless, there remains the fifty million monkey's problem. With this linguistic ocean washing on the shores of the world's consciousness, what parts of it can be assumed worthwhile and what is watery garbage? Crop circles, unidentified objects, flying, floating, or otherwise, Sasquatch, Nostradamus, Charles Fort, and all other things bumping along after dark surf as easily on the web as the most useful reliable information. Bertrand Russell pointed out that the only virtue that truth possesses is that it never goes away. But, for a good deal of time, it can be drowned away by babble.

Control of the media is one of the most useful weapons in armory of those who would bend the populace to their will. In the early days back in the 1700s, Thomas Paine could be effective with his Common Sense, as was Jonathon Swift with his A Modest Proposal at small capitalization of his communication facilities. But, as technology progressed, the means for reaching an effective audience required more and more finance so that, in the USA, from the inception of radio through television, and in concert with the newspapers of the time, very heavy money controlled the means of popular communication and saw to it that their points of view were the ones expressed.

The era of CBS's William Paley and Edward R. Murrow and his crew was a noteworthy exception, which has no current counterpart. Adolf Hitler was well aware of the importance of media control and his man Goebbels saw to it that his point of view dominated, a tradition well observed in many nations today.

But the web today, effervescent with blogs, which require little or no great finance, are seeping into the awareness of the world as a totality. Much more than ever before people are speaking to people directly. A mind is emerging not too different from the mind of an individual containing internal combating factions, highly disturbed with the physical inequalities of the different peoples, struggling to resolve opposing beliefs and traditions.

There is much physical and mental struggle and much actual bloodshed. Humanity must somehow resolve and contain and live with these conflicts. More and more it is evident we live together on a very small, very fragile planet and we must learn to listen to each other, comprehend how and why we think the way we do and how to accommodate these differences so that we can live together.

The alternative is suicide.

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Chris2006-11-28 07:39:41
Well said. Very well said.

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