By Oswald Sobrino, J.D.; M.A. (Econ.); M.A. (Theo.); M.L. (Master of Latin), doctoral student, University of Florida.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The N.Y. Times Round Up: Humility

Image representing New York Times as depicted ...Image via CrunchBase
If the key to the Socratic method is provoking serious reflection by asking insightful questions, sometimes I think the key to the N.Y. Times "method" is to provoke serious reflection by presenting obtuse perspectives with a straight face without noting the great ironies involved. Here we go.

1. A front page story on the economy has this statement by a Democratic housing expert with ties to the current administration:

"The administration made a bet that a rising economy would solve the housing problem and now they are out of chips . . . . They are deeply worried and don't really know what to do."

Source link (emphasis added).

Yes, the best and the brightest (a phrase made popular to describe the eggheads who got us into a quagmire in Vietnam and kept us there even when they already knew that their tactics would not work), all the Ivy League economic experts associated with the administration, simply don't know what to do. Back in the thirties during the first Great Depression, many, who later became famous economists, decided to study economics in search of solutions. Maybe, we need another wave of new students of economics to rejuvenate a field that has discredited itself again. The wider moral and philosophical lesson is one that all academics and assorted experts should relearn daily: the man from Nazareth was right--humility, humility, humility.

2. Another front page article has Muslims in the U.S. wringing their hands over all the alleged hostility unleashed by the debate over the Ground Zero mosque (I use "Ground Zero" because I firmly believe that the only reason this particular location was so sought after by the developer in the first place was precisely because it would be a Ground Zero mosque--why else continue to resist the obvious solution of choosing a new location as an overwhelming majority of New Yorkers desires?).  Here is the quote that ends the article:

Ingrid Mattson, the president of the Islamic Society of North America, said many American Muslims were still hoping to salvage the spirit of Ramadan.
“In Ramadan, you’re really not supposed to be focused on yourself,” she said. “It’s about looking out for the suffering of other people. Somehow it feels bad to be so worried about our own situation and our own security, when it should be about empathy towards others.”

Source link (emphasis added).

Well, empathy usually begets empathy: why propose putting a mosque in the first place so close to a very sensitive spot that will cause suffering to others? Is that proposal empathetic towards others? Having a legal right to do something is not enough--it is only the first step in a common sense analysis. The second, essential step is asking whether one should exercise this legal right in these particular circumstances. Empathy will give you the right answer. Again, humility, humility, humility.