He is saying that if all we did as a nation was directed only towards our own survival and self interest that we would be a poor nation and not worth defending. And it DOES have to do with all the things we really venerate in our country and are patriotic about.
But not all we do as a nation is funded/supervised by the government. In fact, very little should be, as the proper role of government is very limited. A nation or a people is not measured by what its government compels of it, because virtue is not the result of compulsion.
There are two major points where I took issue with Wilson's comments, neither of which you addressed. I'll rephrase them:
- That it is absurd for him to claim to be upholding "the respect with which we regard another" and "the dignity of men" while attempting to coerce his fellow citizens to support his research project (and yes, it is coercion since we are talking about tax dollars here and not donations.)
- That things like particle accelerators (as cool as they may be, and as worthy as the pursuit of scientific knowledge is) are, or could even compare to, what truly makes this country worth defending.
What makes this country worth defending is indeed the "respect with which we regard another" and "dignity of men" that are her very bedrock principles (by the way, that's a very good Samuel Adams quote in your FReeper profile.) But these are things that we must recognize in the inherent
worth of humanity, in individual persons, as rights granted to us by our Creator; and not contingent on any cultural--or even scientific--achievements of a nation. And as I said above, such achievements need not, and indeed in most cases SHOULD NOT, depend on taxpayer funding and government supervision.
Do you think going to the moon improved the security of the country?
Given that the space race was an extension of the arms race during the Cold War: Absolutely.
Or do you think it had more to do with the respect with which we regard one another (as Americans)?
There was quite a bit of national pride involved, certainly. And there was nothing at all wrong with that. But that is not the same thing as the human dignity which is recognized by our basic national principles.
Niel Armstrong's "One giant leap for mankind" was iconic, and went beyond national pride to pride in the potential and accomplishments of mankind
. But this is still not the same as recognizing the inherent worth of human beings as individuals
, as persons
Which do you really think was more expensive or contributed more to our knowledge of Science, the particle accelerator or the Apollo mission?
Irrelevant, for the reasons given above.
posted on 09/12/2008 6:46:46 PM PDT
by Zero Sum
(Liberalism: The damage ends up being a thousand times the benefit! (apologies to Rabbi Benny Lau))
To: Zero Sum
I find the Sam Adams quote to be so very relevant to the conflict we find ourselves engaged in today.
“Our contest is not only whether we ourselves shall be free, but whether there shall be left to mankind an asylum on earth for civil and religious liberty” Samuel Adams
Some things are so big, like the moonshot, that the government should be involved in some way, and I believe particle accelerators and such are essential to our civic and national pride. Otherwise all our brilliant young Physics students will have to go to Europe to study, instead of brilliant students from around the world coming here. I like that the United States is the center of learning and culture in the world, that we have innovation and discovery and wealth on a scale that most nations can only dream about.
posted on 09/12/2008 7:43:55 PM PDT
(Sa-RAH! Sa-RAH! Sa-RAH! RAH RAH RAH! McCain/Palin2008)
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