Monday, July 31, 2023

If You Believe Absurdities ...

 Apparently Voltaire never quite said exactly the quote that's been attributed to him:  

Those Who Can Make You Believe Absurdities Can Make You Commit Atrocities

But that statement has been around long enough that, when I applied to attend the University of California at Berkeley, around 1962 or 63, it was offered to me as a possible subject for the 500-word essay I was expected to submit with my application.  I don't recall what the other possible subjects were.  I chose that one, and drafted a handwritten page or so (on the application) on why it is right.  (At the time I didn't know it was attributed to Voltaire.)  Cal admitted me for the 1963-64 year.

That was (my God!) sixty years ago.  Voltaire has been dead for roughly 250 years.  But the statement stands.  And as I look around today, I see more atrocities being committed, by people who believe absurdities, than I want to consider.  I'm not going to tell you what I think the atrocities are because I don't want to get into an internet screaming match.  But there are dozens of them, being committed by people in the U.S. and elsewhere.  

This isn't a good sign, people.  I think I remember a time when we could agree on the basic facts of life and the world, but we seem to have lost that.  It worries me.  I wish I could close this post with a witty remark, but all I can come up with is, it worries me.