Under the Radar 4

The Most Dangerous Mistake 

All Humans Make...

This is the fourth of a series of columns

inspired by the East Village Other, written by

former EVO columnist Alex Gross and aimed at

recapturing the spirit of that unique newspaper. 

These columns are equally inspired by the exhibit

about this newspaper sponsored by four NYU

divisions: the NYU Arthur L. Carter Journalism

Institute, the Fales Library and Special Collections 

of NYU Elmer A. Bobst Library, the Program on 

Museum Studies, and the NYTimes.com Local 

East Village. This exhibit celebrates EVO's past

and is most welcome. But EVO's passing has left

a gap in the journalism of the present, and many

stories that EVO would almost surely have covered

have in fact been left unreported. The columns

that follow attempt to fill that gap. To see other

columns in this series, click here



There's a horrendous mistake

all of us make

almost every day.

It inevitably leads

to even more horrendous


We make this mistake repeatedly,

without thinking about it

in the slightest.

Even though the only way

we could ever stop making it

would be to start thinking about it...

Which no one really wants to do,

because we're truly in love

with this mistake

and want to go on

making it forever,

Despite its disastrous consequences

for politics, economics,

scientific truth,

and our everyday personal lives...

Let's call it:


It has many forms, but basically

it goes like this:

Hey, deep down life isn't really

all that complex...

Basically deep-down 

everybody everywhere

is the same...

Basically deep-down

everybody everywhere wants

the same things...you know,

food, shelter, that stuff...

Basically deep-down

all peoples & cultures

are pretty much the same too...

Basically deep-down

all societies and all nations

seek the same goals

& for the same reasons...

Basically deep-down

all languages are the same

and say the same thing

in pretty much the same way...

Basically deep-down

everybody everywhere

believes in "God..."

Which is why

basically deep-down

a yearning for "God"

is universal...

And why the word for "God"

basically deep-down

is the same in all languages...

(even though in reality

languages do not truly run 

parallel to each other

and many languages 

have no word for "God" 

as we know it...)

There, now you've seen them...

At least some of them...

Needless to say, 

however helpful

so many of us may have

found these notions

over the years and centuries,

not a single one of them

is even remotely true...

And our insistence

that they might be true

or must be true

has in so many different ways

led to all the feuds, wars, 

genocides, crazed political theories,

and murderous off-the-wall

sacred religious beliefs 

that have typified

the last several thousand years

of human history...

Since it's so obvious to us

that all of these statements 


any time we find people

who resist these notions

and claim they aren't the same as us,

they must be mistaken,

and we must EDUCATE them...

If they still resist

after we EDUCATE them,

then they quite obviously

must be PUNISHED

or somehow be made to obey...

made to believe...

or else...


It's precisely

these stupid ideas

that end up

in disastrous results...

Maybe the worst part comes

when someone challenges us

on our opinions, how pompous

and hypocritical and downright

belligerent we can become

in defending ourselves...

We'll go to almost any lengths

to avoid admitting

our lack of knowledge

our lack of experience

of other peoples,

not to mention

our almost total

lack of imagination

about what other people

might be like...

Can there be a solution...?


Just maybe...

Stay tuned...


Alex Gross has written of his experiences with the underground press in the US, UK, Germany, and the Netherlands in his book THE UNTOLD SIXTIES: When Hope Was Born.  His website for this book:
His main website: 

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