Thursday, March 30, 2006

You may be insane by some standards

And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.
- Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche, philosopher (1844-1900)

Sanity is one of the most unagreed upon concepts of modern times.

Many people think that those who disagree with their political or religious beliefs are, at heart, insane. Some say that those who have been certified as insane are in fact the happiest people.

Beethoven was deaf when he wrote his Ninth Symphony, arguably the best symphony ever written. It wouldn't have mattered if he had played the notes on a piano, a violin or any other instrument, he could not have heard them. But he heard them in his head.

Was Beethoven insane? He heard in his head music which no one else could hear. From it he created one of the classic compositions of history. You can hear his notes played on modern instruments, but Beethoven could not hear them on any instrument.

Some people claim that they have been spoken to by God. They have heard his words in their head. If they may be called insane, then Beethoven must have been insane when he composed his Ninth.

Sanity is a nebulus concept. We should be flexible in our use of it as we apply it to others.

Those who have fundamental beliefs that disagree strongly with our own may simply be different. Maybe there are no basic and immutable truths that everyone should agree with and support.

If that is true, then we must teach those fundamental beliefs we believe that all of our people should hold in common. We should teach them to children, to all children, and teach them often.

If we don't, then we will have a minority of people who believe that murder is the way to solve disputes, that psychological warfare is acceptable within families, that all possible (now-illegal) drugs should be available freely to everyone and that evil concepts may be taught to children through television and movies because of freedom of speech rights.

Societies do not grow and remain healthy by accident. By not giving direction to those who our children about how they should be taught, we leave the fate of our cultures to chance. Or to those whose only interests are their own benefits and their own power and wealth.

We must teach what we believe are fundamental truths, even if others disagree with them. That's what distinguishes us as a unique culture.

Bill Allin
'Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems,' striving to make every person and every community healthy.
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