So this week at CU is the the 61st annual Conference on World Affairs. This week is packed with nationally and internationally renowned speakers who lecture on a variety of subjects, ranging from international relations to facebook. The campus is flooded with non-students, and basically, the student center where I work is chaotic. This week is a sociologist's dream, seeing how the "guests" of the university actually treat the students and staff, as well as looking at listening habits, and lecture attentiveness, between the large age span. But today, focused in on a lecture entitled "Winning Over Islamic Hearts," a speaker named Ziad Asali spoke some profound truth about American politics. What he eluded to was not based on tangible evidence of what the Obama campaign can and will do, but the symbolism behind it. His example was that one of Obama's first moves in the oval office was calling The Palestinian President. He said how this conversation did not lead to any new incite, but the fact that Obama showed interest, and actually asked the Palestinian President what Palestine needs, instead of telling him what America thinks Palestine needs, was a symbolic gesture that will lead to much closer ties between the US and the Arab world. I think this example is what many people are missing about the Obama campaign. Though his proposed policies were, according to the vote count, more celebrated then Mccain's, what will be so monumental is the symbolism that will come with Obama's actions. He is a man who understands that international relations are not only based on tangible efforts, counting the number of dollars or democracies the US is involved in, but also interaction, and acknowledging other cultures and ideas. So far in Obama's campaign, though things like his push for stem cell research, the bail out plan, and closure of Guantanmo Bay are all great, what has been most rewarding for our country is the flux in foreign attitudes towards our government and our peoples. Obama is a new, youthful face of America that shows other nations we are not all balding, closed minded, middle aged, middle class, white christians, but a nation of people who differ in race, thought, and ideals. Not all progress can be measured numerically, and though some of the symbolic gestures of the past have been left out of the record books, I think Obama's campaign will be remembered both as a sign of hope for a greater future, and for its tangible efforts.
Today's conference was on intelligent designing, and I left absolutely horrified. Three of the four panelists spoke on genetically evolving humans, one speaking on us becoming cyborgs, one talking about his top-ten wish list of genetic mutations, and one speaking of creating computers where we could download our selves too. Each one had fantasy-esque hopes and dreams, but the fact that each spoke of forceful evolution of the human race was haunting to me. The final panelist, who seemed the craziest of all, was the only one who, metaphorically, spoke my language. He began his speech talking about human parnoia, and basically, drove the point that "we are a society riding a bucking bronco." What he said was that we are evolving, producing technology, and finding scientific breakthroughs at a rate which our societal evolutions, as well as own knowledge and understanding, cannot keep up with. We are, in essence, a society on a bucking bronco without a bridle and the knowledge of how to tame a wild horse. This resonated with me, and also did what the CWA is here for, it sparked dialogue between a friend and I. We talked about how each technologic advance mankind adopts stops human evolution, and how not only do we have to worry about not evolving, but also de-evolution, deeming Wall-E not only a great movie, but true! So I guess the take home message from this lecture was with great power comes great responsibility, and with every action comes consequence, so we better be ready to reap what we sow...and Wall-E should be integrated into high school and college curriculum.