I’m certain, are you?

I have recently finished a book by the wonderful writer, the late Michael Crichton, (probably most famous for Jurassic Park). State of fear is a book big enough to scare off all but the most avid of readers. It’s a great read and so timely, as it is all about climate theory. I rarely read fiction, as I am so often frustrated by the standard of writing, so when I say it is worth reading, I don’t make that recommendation lightly. In the author’s notes at the end of the book is a quote I thought was worth talking about. “I am certain there is too much certainty in the world”.

The geo-political events of the last twelve months have clearly shown that few of us really knows or understands what is really going on in the world. Both at scale and in microcosm. The hearts and minds of people across the globe are won and lost by events and circumstance that leaves us all floundering for answers and explanations. But these people are certain. They are not questioning, they are certain.

I see the same certainty echoed across our Australian political landscape from all quarters. In opposition it is easy to be certain. You can be certain and vocal about your heart-felt views because there is no accountability. Even if you don’t offer a credible alternative, you can be certain that whatever the government is doing is wrong.

If you are a minor party, a teeny-weeny little factional thing, you can be certain about everything because you will never ever have to back that up with real action. You can also be certain that somewhere in our country there is a bunch of other people who are certain too. Not questioning, but fair dinkum certifiably certain.

There is no doubt that it is easier in our crazy political system to be in opposition because it allows for certainty. It is much easier to look credible, and be certain, if you don’t have to back up your absolute certainty with action. The same can be said for both sides of politics, I’m not picking on one side over the other here. What I’m saying is, is that smart? Is that actually in the best interests of the country to have a system that allows those in opposition to make the most noise. How many times do we have to vote in an opposition party only to find out they are better at being an opposition than they are at being in power?

The real long-term danger of course comes from the people in power as their easiest recourse is to generate fear. By saying to the public you should stick with the people in power because anything else is terrifying, is a horrible way forward for our community but completely understandable in the circumstances. I for one, think that living in fear is a terrible blight, and potentially very damaging for individuals and community building.

In all of my thinking, I can’t think of a better way to do it. It is far from ideal, because it seems to breed a cycle of certainty at the cost of questioning. So many people take a line or a position on something and then spend all of their energy defending that line rather than spending some time thinking about it. When you are driven by fear, taking a stand is often the easiest way to go, rather than trying to find some balance on the subject.

I have forgotten which author said, “as soon as I find myself agreeing with the majority, its time to question my stance”. Or something like that. Those that know me, know I have an opinion or a thought on most things, on most topics. However they also know that most of that is a work in progress as I search for information to back those ideas up. I’m still searching, I hope you are too.