Sunday, April 18, 2010

Bill Moyers Retiring

Many younger folk may not recognize the name Bill Moyers. He has been a fixture of political, philosophical, and cultural commentary on PBS for many years. Born in Oklahoma and raised in Marshall, Texas, he received a degree from Southwesterm Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, and was ordained. He never pursued the ministry but chose instead a path into journalism and politics. He ascended to the high station of special White House Assistant to President Lyndon Johnson and ultimately into a journalistic career immersed in the world of ideas. To see his bio just Google his name and see wikepedia.

Moyers' life and public influence makes for interesting reading. His world view evolved from a conservative, East Texas, evangelical protestant to a world-reknown, open-minded, idea-monger (not a negative term). An admission from him in today's Austin American Statesman speaks volumes to the emptiness of the socialistic, humanist ideal that producing knowledgable, educated people will produce good people. Moyers long held a strong conviction, as naively articulated by Robert Kennedy, that societal ills were due to a lack of awareness and information, and providing both would translate into compassion and improved national character. All that was really needed was enlightenment and education and the inherent goodness of humanity would emerge. In this exerpt Moyers admits that in retrospect that popular view of the human condition was wrong and he does not know what to do about it:

Moyers has devoted much of his life to the larger idea of an informed democracy. Yet he bows his head ever so slightly at the mention of Robert F. Kennedy's intent, articulated in 1968, to have the major TV networks air a two-hour prime time documentary on American poverty if he were elected president. If the people knew, certainly they would act.

"I no longer believe that, by the way," he says softly. "We have so much information. We know what's wrong. The predicament is: We don't do anything about it. That may be a factor in my decision to retire. ... We're saturated. There are more people who know than there are people who do. That's a quandary I haven't resolved yet. But it's a fact."

How sad and disillusioning must it be to realize toward the end of one's life that one of the primary hinges upon which your world-view has swung is deeply flawed or downright wrong? That being your understanding of the human heart. The secular humanist sees humanity as essentially good, gradually getting better (evolving), and in need of continued improvement. Mankind's universal task is clear... discover and implement the means for that improvement. Who gets to decide on and engage the proper means is a topic for another discussion.

So... we are getting systematically, observably better through evolution, education, and technology? Nature, intellectual awareness, and information are our saviors? Moyers, the poster boy for free thinking and icon for adherents of relative truth, now thinks not but has no fall-back remedies. It is hard to overstate the magnitude of this admission in cultural or political terms.

But how could any honest, objective observer conclude otherwise? The evidence is in. The most recently completed era of mankind, the 20th century, was the bloodiest in the annals of human history. WW1 and WW2, the slaughter of millions of their own people by the likes of Hitler, Stalin, Mao, and Pol Pot are the much-ignored documentation that mankind may be more devious, clever, powerful, and ruthless... but better?

The fool has said in his heart "there is no God". Those who minimize God or deny His existence have no choice but to place their hope in the flawed devices of humankind. They must write checks on a bankrupt account. What a frightening prospect. But where else does that one go? I'd like to ask Bill that question.

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