13 February 2010



Not being British nor living there, I do not understand the venom leveled at Charles Windsor (see the London Times article linked above, about Prince Charles' criticism of the legacy of the Enlightenment period). I suspect that it is a combination of dislike for the perceived anachronistic monarchy itself (but, which is powerless in the political sense), skepticism of environmental activism (in which he is involved in the extreme), and a product of the times we live, in which public figures are targets of hatred by one side or another, even making fun of his use of homeopathy (learned from his Queen mom), organic gardening, and so on. My fiancee Diann dislikes him because of his former relationship peccadilloes with her beloved Princess Di. For my part, I feel some affinity for a guy who tills a garden outside a Scottish castle and listens to classical music and tries to save old buildings (even if he does wear a kilt!), and ponders the relationship of humans with nature.

If I were a public figure, virtually every aspect of my own life, present and past, would easily garner spitfire ridicule by one faction or another. Charles has my respect for assuming the responsibility of using his role in British society for what he so obviously believes is right. He could retire to his castle (he will probably be bypassed as king) and live a life of closeted ease. He is no faint-hearted Royal.

When I was in England yestersummer (I just now coined this word), I watched a speech of his on the tele and was knocked-over impressed with his acumen and ease in discussing the difficult and arcane topic of the philosophical relationship of humans to the natural world. I have never heard it better stated. Perhaps this is where some of the anti-Charles vituperation comes from: Who wants to hear an effete, privileged Royal lecture us about our disjointed life vis-a-vis the natural world? I for one really like, and respect, Charles.

Americans, also, have a tendency to dislike the professorial-sounding public figure. I think that was some of the problem with both the Gore and Kerry presidential campaigns: It felt a bit (perhaps others think "a lot") like they were lecturing the body politic. Obama has some of that, too; so did Franklin Roosevelt. But, the best example of an upper-class, professorial politician was Adlai Stevenson, he of Chicago-Boston and Harvard law school, hated by a certain Dixiecratic crowd in the U.S.

The Times article (linked above) does not (nor the other British online news agencies I checked) give us enough to understand what Charles has found problematic about the legacy of the Enlightenment period--surely it is not everything. But, from what I have said above, it must have to do with the dualistic separation it engendered between humans and the natural world. The environment became the subject of scientific study and thus set off humans from the world in which they live, in a nature-as-object worldview. Humans began to see themselves as living separate from nature, IN the world with nature there to exploit, as opposed to living embedded WITH the web of the world, with nature as protective home.

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