Website devoted to the promotion of tolerance
and pluralism of the worldview
Note: For the people who want to know the historical context of their culture and civilization I recommend the culture-based films of Michael Wood, and for those who want to get to know the cosmic context of the inhabitants of this planet, that is all of us, I recommend the movie and the book “Cosmos” by Carl Sagan.
I have created this website in order to promote important ideas; important, which does not mean infallible and exclusively right. The point is that almost all of us have our idols. But is each one really worth following? In our “computerized” world there is an information chaos, which makes many people feel lost and confused spiritually or ideologically. There is a mess in many media. One hears that he is right now who has the voice, and he has the voice who has the money. People easily succumb to lies, myths and circular opinions, invent fake sanctities, false legends and authorities. Often, we do not realize who are really some so-called “authorities” that prompt us in the media, even those considered to be opinion-forming, what we have to believe and how we should think. This is not my subjective observation. This is confirmed by the history, which is the best teacher. I can name a few well-known figures who in the 20th century were adored and today are spit on. Therefore, I am trying to refute superstitions, which are certainly not lacking in the modern world.
The bard Adam Mickiewicz wrote: “Obdurate ices and light-dimming superstitions are crumbling“. Many superstitions and prejudices have already collapsed in the face of historical and scientific truth. But new ones are still appearing. Albert Einstein was right, saying: “In today’s world it is easier to break down an atom than superstition.” The Buddha also knew this, therefore he demanded from his disciples that “they should not receive any teachings based on faith, or because they are taught by sages, or because they are in the Scriptures, or because they fit into preconceived ideas and assumptions, or because the majority believes in them, but to receive teachings only after trying them out, and only those that make them wiser and more merciful people, and to judge his teachings in this way.”
It is a pity that so few people follow these rules. During the time of my youth, I also succumbed to the myths which I rejected after years because I considered them to be wrong, even harmful. However, I do not intend to convert others to my own or someone else’s worldview. Everyone has the right to choose their own path. The choice of worldview should take place on a voluntary basis, not under pressure of any environment or institution. Unfortunately, children are frequent victims of such pressures.
I would like to point out that the title “In the Footsteps of the Wise Men” does not suggest that I consider myself one of them. Rather, I consider myself a seeker and explore the trails marked by those whom I admire and remain impressed by their teachings. Why should one discover America when it has been discovered by others? All you need to do is reach for the right sources.
More than one reader may be surprised that I am advertising so different thinkers. So I want to explain that I do not do that with the intention of convincing anyone that he should completely agree with them. They may not be infallible, like the Pope, but each one of them deserves some respect. I am grateful to every one of them for leaving wonderful works to the world, because I know how easy it is to take shortcuts, that is, to go on the smallest line of resistance and become a fanatic. I liked them so much that I took the trouble to translate some of their fragments into Polish.
Carl Sagan (1934-96), an atheist and scientist, Joseph Campbell (1904-87), a religious scientist and mythologist, Henry Miller (1891-1980), a philosophical anarchist, are no longer alive. As we see, they died at the end of the last century in quite short intervals.
Particularly noteworthy are the still living Michael Wood, a British scientist, producer of films and cultural programs, and Morgan Freeman, an American actor and film producer. They are also the narrators of their films. The series “Legacy” (Dziedzictwo) by Michael Wood and “The Story of God” (Historia Boga) by Morgan Freeman are the specific guides about many countries, religions and cultures. Wood is more focused on secular, scientific and historical topics, whereas Freeman on religious and ideological issues. They are able to make us aware of many important issues. Thanks to them, I was able to verify some of my views and find out what place Western European civilization occupies in comparison with others, younger and older than her.
The most controversial of them is Henry Miller. I do not consider him a great sage, but as a thinker making us to reflect. He pointed to numerous errors of stereotypical thinking and understanding of reality. For example, he said: “Life is not a deadly serious affair, it’s a tragicomic drama … A man who takes everything seriously is doomed.”
The history of the world is like a book made up of many chapters. You can not rely on one of them; and many people do just that, not realizing the harmfulness of this approach. That’s why I especially recommend the works of Carl Sagan and Michael Wood to everyone. These scientists have done something great. As I mentioned, the first showed us, the Earthlings, our cosmic context and the other, our historical context. I do not know scientists who managed to do this extremely difficult task better.
The world we live in is very diverse in terms of ethnicity and culture. Anyway, it has always been like that, but it has never been more evident than now, in the era of television and Internet. It is essentially a collection of different worlds. Some of them are mythologized worlds. In multiethnic and multicultural Canada, where I have lived for a long time, there are many followers of various worldviews and religions. But there is a fairly common tolerance. Many Canadians wear various religious symbols on their bodies. I pass in the street a Hindu man with a turban on his head, a Jew with a kippah on his head, a priest wearing a clerical collar or a Muslim woman with a scarf on her head. These people do not try to convert others to their faith. They act as if they wanted to tell other pedestrians: “My faith is my business.” Of course, this diversity has its own charm, but it also creates problems. I am opting for tolerance, but looking at what is happening around me, I sometimes wonder when people will finally start to distinguish mythology from history.
Because of that, I believe that a country steeped in Catholicism as much as Poland especially needs missionaries promoting ideological pluralism. The main reason for succumbing to myths and superstitions in my old homeland is the rather common lack of interest in other traditions, ideologies and religions. What is worse, there is quite a common fear of otherness. And yet the Internet is very helpful in this area. It should provide us not only with information and entertainment, but also with a reading that is serious and useful for the spirit.
In addition, we have become victims of technology. A lot of people are addicted to it. The world becomes more and more sick and abnormal because of that. For example, in Canada, every third person talks on a cell phone or plays with a smartphone on the street, on a bus, at a bus stop, sitting at the steering wheel, and some do it even when crossing the street. Population of this planet is over 7 billion now, and the number of these gadgets on it is already 5 billion and is increasing rapidly. If this trend is not stopped, what will happen in 10 years?
In addition, almost everyone is in a hurry today, motorization is an inseparable element of our everyday life, and crude oil reserves are running out quickly. And no better, cheaper, more ecological” fuel has been invented. And where is the literature concerning the matters of the spirit, the existence of man, the works of ancient thinkers? A certain Indian was right in saying, “Our Mother Earth is the source of life, not a natural resource.”
The best weapon against the enemies of humanity, such as bigotry, fundamentalism, intolerance and nationalism, is worldview pluralism. You can free yourself from these enemies by reading the works of scientists and thinkers – not just the few mentioned here by me, but many others as well.
Of course, there are other thinkers and sages worth recommending, such as Buddha, Socrates, and Pythagoras, but they were active in antiquity. I prefer those who lived and worked in less distant times because they knew the realities of the modern world better, that is our problems. Also noteworthy is Mahatma Gandhi, a wise Hindu political leader and pacifist who was killed by the assassin, though he taught till the end of his life to avoid violence.
Note: Books – “Cosmos” by Carl Sagan and “The Power of myth” by Joseph Campbell are available in Polish. However, two other recommended items – the film series “Legacy” by Michael Wood and “The Story of God” by Morgan Freeman, have not yet appeared with subtitles in Polish. I hope that there will be an institution in Poland that will take care of it. On YouTube, you can view only some parts in English.