Modest Doubt

modest doubt

Modest Doubt

Doubt drives science to achieve its highest standards, but still gets preached against from behind pulpits all over this land. Where doubt is made a principle in one practice, gets lauded by such as the great Shakespeare, yet demonized by ranting tyrants and soft-voiced persuaders alike, no wonder we have become such a mixed-up crowd. By perpetuating the forces of divisiveness while using faith as a key, huckster preachers and politicians have divided America against itself. The river of progress we once enjoyed has filled with logs and ice. Now frozen in place, the stymied waters no longer wash the fruits American enterprise so easily on to their destinations.

Enterprise finagled this onto itself by seeking largess without limits, by tangling politics with religion and denying the Constitution’s reasoned strictures against that. Two rows of theater seats face each other on a rented floor, where enterprise confronts an audience of its accusers. “Why should we not seek that?” enterprise demands to know, its hands on its hips to show it will not like any answer it hears. “Whatever wealth we gain will be spent on fine goods and trickle down to the entrepreneurs and the workers who make them. What could possibly be wrong with that?”

We take a deep breath and slowly exhale. Where do we begin? Someone speaks up: “There are too few of you to support the many of us with even the most lavish and wastrel of lifestyles. Knowing that makes us doubt what you claim.”

Enterprise puffs itself into an arrogant stance. “Are you calling me a liar? I’ll have you know our kind makes a habit of investing in new ideas of all kinds. It’s what keeps the economy going.” With that said, he folds his arms over his belly and looks as if he dares someone to disagree with him.

So, someone does: “It’s bad manners to call someone any name, no matter how perfectly the name fits. I will only say that your investments are made in other countries, while our people give up looking for work and our own country falls into ruins.”

Enterprise glares at her, then leans forward, as if to better focus on a facial blemish. “You see fit to tell me how to control my finances and run my business?”

Swallowing hard, she leans forward to stare hard at his face, then drops her focus to pretend she’s trying hard to see inside his shirt. Blushing when he realizes what she’s getting at, he feigns a cough and quickly settles back in his seat. “If you run a crooked business,” she tells him, “then, yes, I’ll advise you that’s wrong. If any of that four-trillion dollars the super-rich are said to have hoarded away is yours, I will say it is more right to donate it to our government, or invest it in our country, or gamble it away in a casino, than to bribe judges and legislators with donations, and so contribute to the corruption of our democracy. To have that much money stored away to serve no other purpose than the doing of evil makes it very clear how you do not need it. Besides …”

“So, that’s what you’re after!” Obviously excited, enterprise leaped from its seat, only to be stopped by armed guards that had been hired to protect itself. The two giants kept it away from her, only to have it slip free and hide behind a podium mounted on a raised platform that served as a stage. We can hear its excited breathing over the speakers and know it has gained access to the sound system. “Do you see this, my good people? She is jealous. She says we have too much money. She says we don’t need it all, that we should give it all away. Why would anyone in her right mind think we’d want to do that?”

The two burly giants have crept up onto enterprise and, in stern fashion, have marched him back to his seat, and now stand behind him, one at each shoulder. The woman whose oration he interrupted now stands, refers to hastily scribbled notes. She knows better than to reinforce any of his words by repeating them, and that she must not let him lead her away from her topic. “What I had said was that it would be far better to give four-trillion dollars to our country than to use it for evil purposes.

“Science designates humanity as a social species because we tend to live in clusters and maintain close proximities with others of our species. We fare better in groups than as loners. Neighbors watch after neighbors, neighborhoods watch after the community, making sure everybody has provisions and a place of shelter, the sick are cared for, and no one feels endangered by disease, thieves, murderers as much as could be managed. That is the way it once was, the way our species developed, even though some groups were better at it than others.

“With that behind us, when you cut me off, I was about to mention how your hoarded money contributes to a scarcity of dollars, which, in turn, makes it next to impossible for average people to get a mortgage for a home. Scarce money contributes to high interest rates, which raises the cost of doing business, and in its own turn, that raises prices, which puts pressure on employers to raise wages and adds another cost spiral to the mix.”

She sat down before her echoes died. Enterprise knew it was not the real culprit, that it had been an unwitting player in a game aimed at takeover of America’s government. Impossible? We have already been quietly pronounced an oligarchy, a nation controlled by a small group. The dismantling of our government has already begun with the targeting of innocuous-seeming projects and bureaus and will continue with the major structures after it gets too far gone to stop.

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