Have you ever heard of Neil Tyson? He's an astrophysicist who has often hosted the TV program, "NOVAScienceNOW," on PBS, where a wide range of topics are examined: from space to Autotune to genetics. He also may or may not have had something to do with the demotion of Pluto as a planet. And if he were to marry my mother, they would certainly have my blessing. Recently, he was a guest on "Real Time with Bill Maher," and the topic of what Tyson would do if he were president came up. After more and more people asked him about it, including the NY Times, he responded with this:
If I Were President...
August 21, 2011 in the Read section
The New York Times
August 21, 2011
Part of collection of opinions on the topic: "If I Were President..." which appeared in the Sunday Review section. What follows is the unedited version of what was published.
The question, “If I were President I’d…” implies that if you swap out one leader, put in another, then all will be well with America—as though our leaders are the cause of all ailments.
That must be why we’ve created a tradition of rampant attacks on our politicians. Are they too conservative for you? Too liberal? Too religious? Too atheist? Too gay? Too anti-gay? Too rich? Too dumb? Too smart? Too ethnic? Too philanderous? Curious behavior, given that we elect 88% of Congress every two years.
A second tradition-in-progress is the expectation that everyone else in our culturally pluralistic land should hold exactly your own outlook, on all issues.
When you’re scientifically literate, the world looks different to you. It’s a particular way of questioning what you see and hear. When empowered by this state of mind, objective realities matter. These are the truths of the world that exist outside of whatever your belief system tells you.
One objective reality is that our government doesn’t work, not because we have dysfunctional politicians, but because we have dysfunctional voters. As a scientist and educator, my goal, then, is not to become President and lead a dysfunctional electorate, but to enlighten the electorate so they might choose the right leaders in the first place.
Neil deGrasse Tyson
(Bold face by me.)
I love how neutral and reasonable he is... How objective. I wish more people were capable of stepping out of their circle of comfort and beliefs to analyze what's inside of it from a non-cozy/warm/familiar place - not from an uncomfortable place, but a neutral, understanding place, and maybe even ask why they think what they think.
Of course, one cannot blame all that goes wrong on a single leader, even though many leaders do things that go against even the most basic of human rights. The problem is, we elect them. Why do we elect them? Some of us don't even know. Some of us vote for people just because they're a Republican, or just because they're a Democrat, without really looking at their agendas. I saw a clip a long time ago where a reporter was asking people why they were voting for "so-and-so," as they were waving signs at passersby, and they responded with something like, "Because they're for [this] and against [this]," and the reporter asked where they got that information. "I don't know. I just know that he's for [this] and against [this]." I think it was Rachel Maddow. It was a very telling segment. I doubt that very many voters in the US actually spend enough time to think about why they want to elect one person over another. By listening to the talk of one politician, and one politician only, or only one viewpoint, how can a person know for sure if they're making the right decision? The other guy might actually have better ideas, even if they're not part of the party you usually vote for.
Everything goes back to education. All the problems in the world would be solved if everyone had proper access to good education. If only man's greed for money and power could be exchanged for a greed for learning...
(Apologies for switching between "your" and "one's" when I was making examples and stuff... It's 11:30 and I'm tired.)