This great piece, first published on Alternet, is a cautionary tale. Incorporating statistics from polling, it documents the growing polarization and resulting scientific illiteracy of right-wing ideologues.
In the 30 years since Gallup started asking people whether they believe humans evolved, evolved under the guidance of God, or were created fully formed by God, the percentage of people adhering to the creationist view has actually gone up slightly over time, and now stands at 46 percent of the population. This is just the tip of the iceberg of a growing problem of public rejection of science.Coupled with this short video recording high-school students' answers to some basic questions every American should know and one can start to elevate Mike Judge into a prophet.
However, this is only part of the story. When one steps away from this picture and focuses the lens on a different problem, it starts to feel like just part of an alarming narrative.
The other problem is the gap. The consolidation of money and power by an elite few. The money and power to wage war; increase our domestic surveillance security state; and exploit the world's resources to extract and profit to the rest of our detriment.
A period of intellectual darkness where an ignorant population that fears God is coupled with an economic system predominantly controlled by wealthy property owners that have power over the labor practices, work hours and profits. Sound familiar? Times of lord-serf economics. Or "the Good Ole' Days" as today's political players seem - if we can judge based on their actions - to be saying.
And if you feel that Democracy is the genie that can't be stuffed back into the bottle, remember that our country's constitution was based on the Roman Republic legal system: the freest and most democratic society known up to that point. The transformation from Republic to Empire took less than 50 years.
I am not aiming for a doom and gloom diary, nor do I feel this imminent. Our era since WWII has seen so much advancement in views on race, gender and sex. We are a freer and more liberated population on social issues for the first time, well, ever base on written historical record. These are not developments to dismiss lightly.
But considering that our economic history was founded on slave labor, a Dystopian return to a feudalism-like state is not out of the question.
There is rampant ignorance on historical, economic, scientific and literary basics in this country. This ignorance, compounded by a corporate media that obfuscates truth and boils our problems down to point of view rather than facts, keeps us down and dumb. The perfect climate to seal the deal and set up future generations for a new Orwellian Dark Age (if those lords had drones and security cameras in their day, you can bet they would have used them).
Of all the problems facing our nation and world (the austerity measures being forced in Europe will erode political power of the well-educated populations there as well) it all boils down to a lack of education in almost every vertical: climate change, tax policy, the social safety net, health care, even - yes - reproductive rights. These subjects are debated emotionally by almost a third of the population based on religious-originated superstition; reinforced by a declining public education system.
What's to be done? Well, answer "no" to my question and get involved. Locally first and foremost.
I have personal friends that have spear-headed an effort in their neighborhood to start a new community-run elementary school. Other friends that have moved into different areas of the city in need of renovation, and joined their neighbors to speed up renovation, educational opportunity, and vocational training for young adults.
Buy from your local merchants when at all possible. Keep putting pressure on international manufactures to follow fair-trade policies. Don't consume blindly.
Look up and get involved in your local Occupy Movement - they are not done yet, in spite of the coordinated effort to mainline that very message to the public.
And pick up the phones and call your state and national representatives that cut back on education spending. Most of them appear to be bought and delivered by their puppet masters, but they still respond to an outcry when enough constituents contact them.
The problem is long-term, but it will just get worse if we don't get started in the short-term on solutions.
That light at the end of the tunnel doesn't have to be a train... it could be illumination for a country recessing into the shadows. It will just take all of us to change the course of history.
4:46 PM PT: UPDATE: Wow the Rec List: Thank you!