Sunday, June 8, 2014

A Long Shot Over Deepening Waters

I just can’t get over the fact that the ice sheets are melting and, as a result, the topography of the Earth will be far different relatively soon. Great metropolises will be submerged. People don’t seem to care much. We are such strange creatures, so adaptable, and yet also unblinking when group pressure, or cultural pressure, shuts down our independent thought.

Let me step way back for a moment: in a sense, biochemistry and physics are to blame. Life evolves with a simple imperative. Visceral needs dwell in us entrenched. Who wants to question the group norm when it threatens their own survival, or that of those they love? Who wants to be ostracized and ridiculed in their own community?

The elites know how to manipulate our basic concerns very well. The practice of oligarchy is ancient. If there have been UFO's looking down, as if we were a global ant farm, they probably predicted our pathetic crisis.

How do we escape the mass power of social mind control?

When repressive government yields to more open forms, there is more possibility that people will think for themselves. Freedom of speech is a big step in this direction. However, the powerful still control the masses through propaganda (backed by the whip of the job market). Witness how tens of millions of people think global warming is a hoax perpetrated by hated liberals. Insulting and degrading the liberals has become a way for politicians to marshal the constituency. This path moves toward the use of outright violence, if conditions deteriorate enough to water rancor's seeds.

Freedom of speech is not enough. There’s so much more involved. Who can avoid the obstacle of fanatic churches, of political demagoguery, of the consumer tropes on television? Almost none of us can do it alone. Good upbringing can help us. Or the right social groups. Or access and time to read enlightened books and attend open-minded schools.

Some cultural forces push toward freedom of thought (which is so much more crucial than freedom of speech) and some push toward ignorant conformity. The later faction is way ahead. Indeed, plutocratic rule has been around for thousands of years, backed by violence and well-known rhetorical styles, such as hate-mongering.

True democracy, true human rights, true equality for all, these are new and fragile on the scene, not yet widely instantiated. Even less so is awareness of the Earth as a vulnerable living Jewel that we can disfigure and squander. And what about the understanding that animals can feel pain and should be given protections from cruel treatment? We haven't even granted true equality and respect to women or, for that matter, any group outside the macho male white.

All people are created equal, but not all programs of thought. The time-honored doctrines discourage a broad empathy and awareness. Given the history of civilization, and our psychological bent--such as how easily we succumb to hate, fear, greed--I’d say that the human species has little chance of avoiding a nigh calamity: something as devastating as World War III, or the equivalent in pain brought by vast environmental destruction.

Think about it: What, really, are the chances of avoiding another World War? It took about a hundred years after Waterloo for the continents to erupt in sick butchery again (with more terrible weapons and less protection for civilians). Given that baseline, WWIII should happen sometime around 2045, though global warming will tend to aggravate and catalyze conflict.

Hopefully I’m jaded and cynical, making me overly dour. It’s hard to look at Senators, those in the pocket of coal companies, as they claim global warming is a hoax, and not seethe with disgust. Maybe humanity has a 50/50 chance. My thought is that it is more like 85/15 against us. If there are UFO’s up there watching, let them place their own bets.

What makes the maiming of our planet especially tragic is that we have the potential to be better than a pitiable blight. We could be wonderful, ethical caretakers of our Home. The capacity for good reasonable thought exists in our hearts and minds. Sadly, greed, fear and hate have had thousands of years to entrench their iterations. If we can overcome this ingrained feedback loop, it will be an joyous, universe-shaking testimony to the power of the Good.


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