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There are plenty of themes and ideas, but there is a lack of open hearts and minds

I must confess that, almost two decades after deciding to write a weekly commentary (always exactly 500 words), I am not short of topics or ideas to explore or share. But the growing disappointment at seeing the loss of our capacity for dialogue and introspection makes me wonder whether to continue with this task that seems to become "a voice in the desert".

Among the many topics that could be discussed this week are, for example, the discovery that the whale shark has teeth in its eyes, something never before seen in the animal kingdom. Or the recent announcement that, in our own galaxy, the Milky Way, there would be tens of thousands of millions of planets similar to Earth, that is, with the capacity for "human" life.

Or perhaps we could analyze what Sartre said in 1943 (Being and Nothing): "What happens to me happens through me", underscoring the need to take personal responsibility for what happens to us even under the worst circumstances.

And why not comment on Fritjof Capra's harsh warning in 1982 (The Turning Point, chapter 8) when he said that "the Pentagon is planning to extinguish the human species as well as most others"?

However, it is useless to talk about this or many other issues with the potential to have a transforming effect on our way of thinking, deciding and acting, if, as a recent report indicates, one in three high school students in the United States never reads a book after finishing school. And among university students it is one in four.

Additionally, 70 percent of American adults have not read a complete book in five years. And 80 percent of families buy only one book per year, or none at all.

In that context, everything becomes opinion, that is, knowledge vanishes and it is assumed everything that is said is without foundation, and therefore it can be rejected and replaced by another opinion, also without foundation, but closer to what "one thinks".

Ignorance has become arrogant to the point that someone who "knows a lot" is someone who can correctly answer trivial questions about celebrities or entertainment.

We could have written about the nonagenarian Chilean philosopher Gastón Soublette's proposal on the "dangers and opportunities of the mega-crisis", as the subtitle of his new book Manifesto says.

According to Soublette, the current global crisis is not a crisis of health or economy (although undeniably those elements are included in the crisis), but a crisis of spirituality, not in the sense of religious dogma, but in the sense that we keep our eyes closed to change and the future and, therefore, we cling to the crisis that we have created.

Soublette suggests that the project of modernity that emerged in Europe 500 years ago is coming to an end because the myth of the “constant progress” is over now. Nothing of what once promised was delivered. Soublette is right: we are entering a new time, but you have to read it to believe it. 

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