More Things I'm Not Certain of
More Things I'm Not Certain of
It’s not often anymore that a book will leave me thinking and re-thinking Life, the Universe, and almost everything I’ve told myself that I believe. State of Fear by Michael Crichton [http://www.michaelcrichton.com/state-of-fear/] has done that. Crichton goes after a lot of the “facts” about global warming (let’s be honest: that’s the dog whistle sounding whenever a PC person utters the words, “Climate Change”) as speculation. So much, he says, are factoids derived from computer simulation and speculation on the part of those who may not be qualified to predict the outcome of a hopefully un-rigged beauty contest. There are elements of science that simply doesn’t seem to be there to validate the dire outcomes that are hammered at our ears on a daily, even hourly basis. Even history does not support the environmental lobby’s “End of the World as We Know It” scenario. Still, it’s possible. Crichton admits it. The glaciers could disappear. The sea level could rise and swamp our coastal cities and thousands of islands, drowning millions of innocent people. It is all possible. But it is not fact. Proven fact, tested and observable over long periods of time.
But we don’t seem to have the time to see if this speculation, these simulations and predictions prove true. We want answers in 30-second sound bites:
[if !supportLists]· [endif]How did this happen?
[if !supportLists]· [endif]Who can we blame?
[if !supportLists]· [endif]What can we do (as long as it doesn’t upset our lifestyle too much)?
[if !supportLists]· [endif]When can we say we’ve done enough?
Like so any prophecies we want the answers now. As if the world runs on our time or at least Wall Street’s time. Doesn’t always work that way, but we swing to Plan B (or, in some cases, Plan A). We dig to find our answers to in literature of all stripes. If it’s written by an Approved Authority, it must be true. Trouble is, from a scientific perspective, the stuff can’t be proved true until after it happens. Or does not happen. Prophecies cannot be validated unless their predictions have been “fulfilled” according to the “approved interpretation.” Until then, it’s all speculation and hoping to the Deity or Power of choice that we’ve guessed correctly. But we’re still guessing. The facts may or may not be there.
I suspect that observation galls some folks. Particularly those who make their living off speculating: the pundits who speculate what this candidate or that candidate will do to America’s standing in the world or the economy; the talking heads who grind issue and non-issue alike to dust they can blow away with their own hot air in the name of filling up a broadcast hour; the originally honest folks who espoused an cause and then let it consume them and their humanity to the point they will do anything, including murder and mayhem, to impose their beliefs on everyone else; or the people who will not be moved, whose opinions cannot be altered by facts. I do suppose they won’t like the idea that they are guessing at all. Might mean they have to admit that they really don’t know.
I’ll admit it here: I really don’t know. All I can do is observe and ponder.
I observe that this December is more like March than Decembers I’ve known in the past. Does that “prove” global warming will destroy us all? I don’t know.
I observe that, as a group, we humans are the worst stewards of a home planet imaginable. We can’t manage to live with each other in anything like harmony, let alone with other life forms. Seriously, this whole business of having dominion over the earth and the animals and the plants therein has swelled our heads (and various other parts of human anatomy) to where we want to manage everything. And we’ve generally made a colossal hash of it in the process. . We’ve managed wildlife into extinction and ourselves into an overpopulated, underfed and unequal world where our clever remedies cannot fight Nature’s adaptations.
I observe that, while headlines to conversations beg for change and solutions, most people don’t really want any. Not if it means Life as We Know It has to change much. Make the other fellow change. Particularly the one who doesn’t see the World as we see it. Or simply looks different.
And I observe that we humans live not on food or democracy or justice or any virtue, but on fear. We love it. It sets our juices flowing, our breath quickening, our sex drive into fifth gear. We have to be afraid of something in order to move or to feel. We shriek at a spider or mouse and get up off the couch for the first time today. We have to be scared out of our minds to say we enjoyed a roller coaster or a movie to deem either one “good.” Not for nothing popular books and e-books focus on the supernatural or the Fear of the Other. We want to be scared. In a way we can control. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing…until everything gets scary and violent. And we try anything to assert control. Even lying.
We’ve had a War on Drugs (how’s that working out for you, G-men?). Another politician declared War on Poverty (spoiler: we’re losing). This year alone, I’ve heard about so-and-so declaring War on women, Christmas (an annual farce), on Christians, and on Democracy. I think I actually heard someone who objected to the expression of an alternative point of view accusing the Other of War on Truth, Justice and the American Way. I think I did. There are so many voices raised to battering ram level, it’s hard to make out much more than we have to be at perpetual war. That’s the American Way. Everybody yelling her/his Truth at full volume and damned be s/he who listens. In War, we don’t listen. In War, we don’t try to learn the facts. We fight. Whoever comes at us is the enemy. If they are not in lockstep with us, they’re agin us. It’s War! Scream it from the headlines, the radio shows, the TV “news” programs. It’s War!! And we’re all expected to fight and never stop fighting.
Why do we fight? It’s got little or nothing to do with the reasons we fought WWI or WWII. It’s because we’re afraid. We need to be afraid, whether we’re told to be afraid (be very afraid) or not. Clear, rational thought doesn’t mix with fear, but that’s fine. Our State of Fear seems to thrive without thinking. Half those Wars don’t require or desire clear, rational thought. You couldn’t hear it over the cacophony of everyone talking and no one listening/thinking anyway.
Is this a fact? I don’t know. We’ll have to wait and see.
But perhaps the answer can be found if we listen. And think. And wait out the Wars.
My hope and prayer (yes, I believe in prayer) for us all is a moment each and every day in 2016 when we can promise ourselves:
“Sometime they’ll give a war and nobody will come.” Carl Sandburg (1878-1967)