Pico Iyer writes, “Whether in the context of climate change or the right to life—let alone the ethics of trying to protect others from a killer virus by simply wearing a mask—more and more of us refuse ever to cross party lines. And in an age of social media, when we all imagine we can best capture the world’s attention by shouting as loudly as possible, there’s every incentive to the take the most extreme—and polarizing—position around. . .Our institutions are not going to solve this; they (and the unwisdom of crowds) are often the problem. As the wise Franciscan priest Richard Rohr points out, the only thing more dangerous than individual ego is group ego.”
Pico’s diagnosis is that we are “caught up in an addiction to simplifications for which the only medicine lies within. We need to be reminded that not to be right doesn’t always mean you’re wrong. And that to be terribly wronged does not mean you’re innocent. The world deals in black-or-whites no more than a hurricane or a virus does.” He points to the Dalai Lama who “puts much of his faith in science” whose laws and discoveries apply equally to “believer and non-believer”, and where there is the use of the mind, including that part of the mind “that doesn’t deal in binaries.” The Dalai Lama calls for “emotional disarmament” in order to take joy in exploring and questioning, using our reasoning minds, to find out how much we don’t know in the company of fellow students in our educational institutions and through lifelong learning.