Just in time for Halloween, here’s a sight (reg. required) that really spooks me. Worse than any amusement park house of horrors, than any new sequel to “Saw”, is the sight of an entire nation plunged in darkness. Not the short term darkness brought on by a moonless night, or by a power black out, but a darkness of profound, universal ignorance.
What is scary is that in the 21st century global village, united by a network of computers called the Internet, a nation would be able to be without modern means of communication as a matter of choice. A choice, in this case, made by someone on one of the only computers in the country, on this map represented by a tiny point of light in P’yongyang.
It has been ages since I turned the pages of a Bible, which I regard as a wise, often poetic ancient text, but its most memorable lines to me are still those related to the symbolic nature of godliness with light, and ignorance with dark. Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness.
And I still believe that the purpose of the search for knowledge is enlightenment. Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. (Psalms 119)
For a long time after my Bible reading days, the so-called Age of Enlightenment was my favorite period of history. This 18th century movement embraced the notion of progress, and rejected the cult of irrationality, superstition, and subjugation that were legacies of the Dark Ages, to bring science and reason into the mainstream for the first time. Without it, we wouldn’t have had the American Revolution, the most enlightened to have occurred, to this day. Without it, we’d still be teaching creationism. And that our leaders are chosen by a higher power.
So what is really, truly scary is not just that North Korea is a nation in the grip of a special, imposed ignorance. It is that even in more modern societies we see movements that in their own way are after something similar, and that threaten progress.
AskOxford.com defines “enlighten” as:
verb — 1 give greater knowledge and understanding to. 2 enlightened — rational, tolerant, and well-informed
The antonym according to wordwebonline.com is:
And we know what Goya said about the sleep of reason: it produces monsters.
I hope they don’t gobble us up.