The article “The Politically Incorrect Guide to Western Civilization” conveys several ideas most of which I agree with. Anthony Esolen talks about how Christian monks acted as a symbol of equality, which I agree with. I also agree with Esolen when he conveys the idea that when the world was not so politically correct, curiosity could thrive. Esolen conveys the idea that global warming is not as big of a problem as people are making it out to be, but I disagree with him on this notion.
The main idea of this passage was to show that the middle ages were not the dark ages, but I think that Esolen may have gone too far towards the other extreme by calling it the bright ages. Overall, Esolen provides many interesting thoughts, some of which I agree with, others which I don’t agree with.
Esolen talks about Christian monks and how the monastic rule of St. Benedict symbolized equality in that time.
I think Esolen is quite right on this subject. The Rule of St. Benedict says that all monks, no matter their background, have to do physical labor. This rule put everyone on the same plane and it symbolized, as other things in the Christian faith symbolized, that everybody was equal. This may seem to be a pretty basic idea to us nowadays, but this was being pioneered by the Church in the early middle ages. People didn’t believe that the life of a slave was to be treated with the same respect as the life of a king or a duke, but the Church and Christian ideals taught them otherwise.
This way many people were able to see monks as a symbol of equality and I think this provides further evidence that the Church was instrumental in the abolishment of slavery in Europe.
The Church was an institution with structure and strength and at this time many of the residents of Europe were Christian. Therefore, the Church had to be at least somewhat influential in the lives of the general public, and I think that the Church did become a place for learning morals. Monasteries became centers of learning and I think the Church was extremely important in the middle ages, which is contrary to what history textbooks say. I also agree with Esolen when he says that the monks also symbolize obedience to the hierarchy. The monks were obedient to those who were above them and this value of obedience was most likely transmitted to the public through the Church. The Church simultaneously taught obedience to those above you and that everybody was equal through the monks.
Esolen also talks about how before the world was so politically correct intellectual curiosity could thrive. I completely agree with him on this notion. I think the world as a whole is getting to the point where it is hard to say something without offending someone. I think this is making us think less about how to make things better around us and more about if what we say could be used against us. Our innate curiosity is being, hampered by the fact that if we share the ideas that we may come up with, someone else in the world may disagree with us and get offended. This is making us less curious about what is going on in the world around us, and making us go into our own little bubble, only interacting with people we know agree with us. I believe that argument and a difference of opinion is a brilliant way to force yourself to think because if two people believe different things, it forces both of them to actually think if their opinion is actually what they believe in.
This is not the only thing that is making us intellectually less curious though, I believe that the entire world’s educational hierarchy is making us less creative and curious. In most, if not all, countries in the world, the highest thing on the educational hierarchy is math and science, then comes literature, and at the bottom is art, music, and dance. I think that this is backward and if we want to be more curious than we need to be more creative, and creativity is massively enriched by art, music, and dance. Before we get into math and science, we need to read literature to understand the world we live in today, and then we use math and science to change things around us. Thus, I think if we really want to be more curious and more involved in the world around us, we must change our education system, but then with that, we need to change our attitude that we are offended by anything and everything.
Esolen then goes on to say that global warming isn’t too big of a problem and that cooling is more concerning than warming. I agree with him that if the temperatures cool it can have lasting effects on civilization, but I think Esolen is downplaying the effect that warming can have. A global cooling would definitely affect the harvest and therefore affect the food supply for population centers, but a global warming would, in my opinion, affect the planet more than it would affect us. It is true that a global cooling can hurt human civilization more than a global warming can, but it is our responsibility to take care of the planet we live on as much as it is our responsibility to take care of our own civilization. Global warming would increase the likelihood of hurricanes and would most likely drown coastal cities, it would destroy habitats for wildlife, and it would make life as we know it so much harder.
Global warming is happening slowly but surely and if we as a civilization even have a small part to play in its occurrence, then we are failing our responsibility. We cannot expect anything to change if we do not act, and therefore I believe that steps need to be taken to reduce the effects of global warming in order to not only save our civilization but also to save nature and the planet that we live on. Global warming is just as bad as a global cooling would be and therefore it should not be treated as a hoax or even something that doesn’t affect us because if we don’t change, we will have failed. The main topic of this entire article is to prove that the middle ages were not really the dark ages, but they were actually okay. I agree with this notion, but I believe that Esolen goes a little too far by saying that the middle ages were the bright ages. I don’t think the middle ages deserve to be looked down on as they are today.
I think the reason that the middle ages are seen as the dark ages is that in comparison with other time periods very little happened with respect to the sciences. However, as I stated earlier, I believe this is because as a world we put math and the sciences above every other subject. The architecture of the middle ages is beautiful, but that is barely mentioned because there was no major scientific development. We only think some time period is great because there was some major development in the science and math world at that time. However, I think it is too far to say that the middle ages were the bright ages. The middle ages were not the dark ages nor were they the bright ages, nothing extremely outstanding happened but it is not as if there was nothing going on. The middle ages were a time where in comparison with the Renaissance, very little happened, but when you really look into the middle ages good things were happening.
To sum up, Esolen conveyed some really compelling thoughts some of which I agreed with and others with which I disagreed with. I agree with Esolen in the notion that Christian monks were very symbolic of equality and obedience. I also agree with Esolen in the notion that the politically correct nature of our world today has reduced our intellectual curiosity. However, I disagree with Esolen in the notion that a global warming is a better thing than a global cooling. I also disagree with Esolen in the notion that the middle ages can be called the bright ages. In conclusion, the article “The Politically Incorrect Guide to Western Civilization” provided a fascinating insight into the world of the middle ages and did a very comprehensive job of explaining the middle ages in an aspect that few other articles do.