Hanno The Navigator
PRODUCER NOTE: Dave is waxing philosophical today. If you’re looking for “news” today, this probably isn’t the place to find it. Plus Alex Ross is on vacation. Fair warning is given! – Producer Henri
Do you know the story of Hanno the Navigator?
Somewhere around the middle of the 5th Century BCE, a Carthaginian leader set out on a voyage to discover new worlds and new civilizations. He boldly went where no man had gone before. His voyage is recorded primarily by a periplus, that is to say, a short record of the stops that he made. The periplus became a record that would give subsequent navigators an idea of what they could expect to find and the distances traveled.
In other words, once upon a long time ago, a man led an expedition of 30,000 people through the Pillars of Hercules and past the edge of the known universe, and instead of some vast rolling epic saga, all we have is a list of the places he visited. In a couple of cases a few notes. Of one of the most epic and important voyages in all of human history, all we know is from a few dots. Hanno changed the world. And seemingly nobody except a few ancient literature scholars and Al Stewart remember anything about him at all.
There is something about going to sea that cannot be explained to people who have never done it. Thirty years on, I feel the tug of the sea more than ever today. Were there an opportunity to do so, I would be ready to go over the horizon until all there is to see would be water. In my mind, I am already there.
Like Hanno the Navigator, sometimes we have an idea of what we want to do, but no idea how to get there. We can cling to the shore and mourn the realization that to stay home is to fail. Or… we can set sail. Somewhere out there is what we seek. Somewhere out there are answers to questions we haven’t yet been able to verbalize. Somewhere over that horizon, past the edge of everything we’ve ever known, is peace. Somewhere there is the final realization that some problems are just… well… there’s nothing you can do about it, no matter how much you care about it.
There are new things to be seen. New worlds to explore, new civilizations to embrace. Star Trek may be set in the 23rd Century, but man’s need to explore started long before then.
It is our failure to seek out those new worlds, those new ideas, and those new civilizations, that feeds our failure as a human race. We’ve become complacent and lazy. We know everything that there is to know. Or so we think. And in that, we fail to think at all. Like those Hanno left behind, we believe that we know all the answers that need to be known. Is it fear or is it the presumption that keeps us on the shore?
Our inability to accept that we don’t know everything about everything blinds us to truths.
For example, one of those things which we fervently believe is that the Constitution of the United States serves to protect the rights of the minority. So ingrained in us is this belief that we now have an entire society that cannot get out of its own way fast enough when somebody says or does something that might offend some protected class. Whether its an actual insult or just perceived as such, our entire society comes to a complete halt to bludgeon the perceived offender for his or her insolence. How dare they think that way!
Yet the truth to which we are blinded is that the Constitution serves to protect majoritarian rights. Where rights exist, they end when they violate the rights of others. You have a 1st Amendment right to believe and say anything you want without regard to how minority your belief may be. But that right ends when it harms someone else. But we are so concerned with not offending anybody, that we’ve accepted that harm.
We can stay on the shore and accept the status quo. Or we can push off into the sea and discover the truth that the world is not static and we do not know everything there is to know.