Is this a dangerous idea that could change the world?

As I was reading and reflecting this morning, my mind went back to a recent “Q&A” held at the Sydney Opera House during the Festival of Dangerous ideas. An audience member Lisa asked the panel members, “What is the dangerous idea which you think would have the potential to change the world for the better, if it were implemented?”[i]

Peter Hitchens, an English foreign correspondent and author, broadcast his idea to a large Australian audience.

“The most dangerous idea in human history and philosophy remains the belief that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and rose from the dead! It is the most dangerous idea you will ever encounter!”

Moderator Tony Jones refused to let him leave it at that and asked for more explanation.

Peter Hitchens continued, “If you believe that (is true) it will alter all human behaviour, and all our responsibilities, and it turns the universe from a meaningless chaos into a designed place in which there is justice and there is hope. Therefore, we (would) all have a duty to discover the nature of that justice and work towards that hope. It alters us all if we accept it. If we reject it, it alters us all. That is why it is the most dangerous.”

What a subject to reflect on, early in the morning. My mind must have been wandering.

At the time, I was actually reading about methodology of philosophy. Contentious debates trying to prove opposing views of others are wrong, so that one can generate a new brilliant philosophical thought and belief, and prove the other genius wrong! Until the next contentious debate! It seems this was all on a road to ‘nowhere’. But philosophy apparently didn’t start with that methodology in mind.

This little bit of reading and reflection also took me back to the 1970s; last century. I was in a small conference room in a hotel in Swanston Street Carlton with 10-15 others, with a young Edward de Bono. For a week we listened, questioned, practiced his lateral thinking techniques, ate with him, and drank at the bar with him, all the time absorbing this new and challenging knowledge. That week changed my life.

One simple principle he taught was that when we wrestle with a complex problem we invariably lock into linear thinking, i.e. patterns of thinking that normally serve us well. However, if we head towards a solution and mistakenly veer from the right path, we will end up with a wrong solution or confusion.

Edward De Bono taught us methodology to break through this risk of error. Lateral thinking!

One of his techniques was the “Po” word, which developed out of the concept of ‘possibility’ thinking.

My reflection took me back to Q&A, and Peter Hitchens. I wonder what would happen if the producers changed their ‘entertainment’ concept to attract its audience and worked on ‘possibility’ thinking that ‘morality’ and ‘imagination’ are equally as important as ‘knowledge’, and will lead us to much greater social well being and freedom!

If they engaged in thoughtful synergistic discussion around the possibility that Jesus was the Son of God and he rose from the dead! And, to explore the positive benefits to Australians and our society, if this idea was universally taught!

I wonder what would happen to the ratings.

Would it be similar to when Jesus walked and talked among crowds of thousands who sometimes followed him for days because he had something to say, which deeply affected many and made their lives worth living under incredibly hostile social conditions?  It could be argued that what he had to say and the circumstances of his death have irreversibly changed the cultures of the world.

Would the ratings explode? Would it also change the culture of Australian media? Would it change the world for the better?

Bob Simpson


The Australian Media Engagement Project

[i] Episode 40, November 4, 2013: Panelists: Peter Hitchens, Germaine Greer, Hanna Rosin and Dan Savage: 56m:48s

About Bob Simpson

Bob is project manager of The Australian Media Engagement Project (AMEP). He believes that ethical and independent journalists are vital to the continuing freedom of Australian citizens. You could argue that In recent decades media organisations have subtly subverted journalism to their own private commercial interests, and away from an integrated sense of fairness, well being and shared prosperity in Australian society, especially for the disempowered. AMEP aims to change general media narratives towards greater fairness, well being and shared prosperity in Australia.
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