channel surfing the magical tube the other night when a
debate on C-Span caught my attention. It was an annual
invitation by a university back East and the honorary
guests were the famous liberal attorney Alan Derschwitz
and preacher and arch conservative talk show host Rev.
Alan Keyes. The motion of the debate, I believe, was
"Role of religion in society and separation of
church and state." The debate was intense, fiery,
exciting and educational in a way. The two men were
articulate and eloquent and their oratory skills and
passionate delivery left me initially spellbound. I was
fascinated by the flawless delivery of their viewpoints
and power of their intellect.
the debate went on, I sadly realized that I did not
agree with any of the two respective positions entirely.
More unfortunate was the uncompromising and extreme
position they had both locked themselves in. Neither one
of them would give in an inch. Then I realized
that beyond the black and white picture and through the
facade of colorful intellectual magic, I saw what I
would have failed to see in my naive, idealist younger
years: That in fact, as in case of all extremists, they
were so much alike, both in substance and form. It
reminded me of the famous French proverb "Les
extremes se touches." and the famous Iranian
Every time that I accidentally fall on these events, a
dark cloud hangs over me for a couple of days. When I
remember how I spent my youth idolizing and believing,
makes me laugh. I am not angry or bitter. It's good to
be idealist and a believer when you are young. But I
know a few people who play the game till the last
breath. Not as a passion or belief but rather a way of
life! It 's a commodity, a social statement and societal
standing. Just like the clothes they wear and the cars
I can also detect that in many of my fellow Iranians.
Not for a second would they fathom that they may be
half-right, or others who differ from their point of
view, may actually have something to offer. They
honestly believe because they can cock their eye-brows
higher and inflate their nostrils larger and raise their
voices higher, they have a moral monopoly on truth and
all that is right. They will, of course, mix that
physical intellect with fancy terminologies and their
undeniable "gathered knowledge" and send you a
barrage of intellectual garbage to tell you simply:
" I am right, you are wrong and by golly I do know
a lot and I am good"!!
I will end this note with this caveat for all my
pseudo-intellectual friends out there:
"A DEGREE DOES NOT GIVE YOU EDUCATION.
EDUCATION DOES NOT GIVE YOU KNOWLEDGE.
KNOWLEDGE DOES NOT GIVE YOU WISDOM!"
I don't know who has failed more: Those who have none of
the above and KNOW it, or those who have taken their
degree, education or knowledge mistaken for wisdom!!