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The nation’s darkest loss in the super storms of partisanship is the loss of ideas. The very meaning of “idea” has been lost.
This New Year essay was halfway along before December’s mall shootings in Oregon and the maniacal mass shootings of school children in Connecticut. The shootings’ aftermath concludes the column and raises explicit ideas for action.
Before the shootings, I wrote:
Political camps typically supply a principle when asked for an idea. “Liberty” or “fairness” are principles, not ideas. Ideas are doers.
A principle differs from an idea the way a wordbook differs from a speech. That is, a principle is a worthy tool that rolls out no product. Work is needed to shape the abstract into concrete deeds.
Writer John Steinbeck put it this way: “Ideas are like rabbits. You get a couple and learn how to handle them and pretty soon you have a dozen.”
A string of ideas creates bright new possibilities. A principle alone supplies dim light.
Question: How can we make electricity? Answer: Faraday’s Law. The principle is central, but it brings no electricity to town. A string of ideas does that.
Q: How can airplanes be more airworthy?
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