Wednesday, October 20, 2010
THE LAST TEST QUESTION
I spent much of yesterday making tests over the two textbooks I am using in a course on race, religion, and culture. The final question is from the more difficult book and is a bonus question worth enough points to make a letter grade difference in the score. The context of the question has to do with the history and current reality of warring cultures and their respective religions. See if you can answer the question correctly: "True or False? Unless humanity finds a greater story than the diverse existing stories there is little chance for a unified world."
Everyone thinks his or her philosophy, religion, or viewpoint is ultimate. Is there something obvious that can unite us? Is there a story that can be woven into each culture or an idea that will call into question the endless wars of politics and religion? That is the last test question. The answer is found in the last sentence of the book. If you answered "True" to the question, you got it right (according to Scott M. Thomas, the author of The Global Resurgence of Religion and the Transformation of International Relations). We have to find a universal human perspective or continue adding to the river of blood. If all of humanity could just acknowledge a single reality line as the tethering point that calls into question everything else...
I have not found the story yet, but if I do (or if anyone else does) it will have the theme of dependence. We did not bring ourselves into existence. We are sustained on a planet we did not make by forces we did not invent. Our lives here are temporary and we waste much of them trying to squelch the life forces in others. If we could just realize that we are the lesser to the greater, we might foster enough worldwide humility to look up together. We cannot aim our weapons at each other and look up at the same time.
This last test question may be the last question humanity ever gets around to answering. I just hope there are enough people willing to look for the answer ahead of time.