Rant. Muse. Eat. Sleep. Recycle.
Monday, July 03, 2006
The great unraveling?
As I was saying to a friend recently…
I fear that it’s not just our democracy that is breaking down but our very civilization.
We have entered an alternate reality where our laws are nothing more than cheap trading cards, swapped for money and power; truth is mutable, having nothing to do with observable evidence; having ethics is considered a liberal character-flaw; and morality is a marketing tool.
Ron Suskind says it a little more succinctly in the preface of his book, The One Percent Doctrine: “… an age when assertion tends to overwhelm evidence, when claim so easily trumps fact.”
My friend (OK, Jae) seemed unmoved by my epiphany (or maybe he was only trying to quell his own panic by taking the cosmic view) and alluded to entropy, the “inevitable and steady deterioration of a system or society.”
About 20 years ago I read the Welsh Mabinogion (the text of British Celtic lore) and I remember eight words of wisdom uttered by the deity, Math. An epic battle had been fought and, looking over the bloody battlefield from the depths of despair, he said, ‘It’s all part of the great going forward.’
Around that same time, I listened to an interview with a philosopher -- I think it was Jacob Needleman. Responding to the assertion that man is at war with nature he said that ‘man [and all that man does] is natural. No less so than tigers, toads or tubers. It wasn’t a value judgment (nor license to destroy), just a statement of fact.
Those two notions combined to form, what is to this day, my spiritual foundation (hey, what can I say… I was 25). We are not above nature, we are nature and we are always evolving. Even the process of devolution (intellectual, moral, cultural) is, part of the evolution of man.
I’d always taken comfort in that notion. I like that we (every living organism) are all in this together and that all that happens within the microcosm, Earth, is a result of our interconnectedness and not celestial whim.
But that was before global warming showed up on the radar. Throughout human history, the great going forward has taken place within the reliable system of seasonal change: the bounty of summer before the harvest of autumn; followed by the fallow period of winter and the rebirth of early spring. Even when nature throws a curve ball, giving us a year of draught or flooding or whatever, the big timepiece in the heavens is still ticking. We could count on more seasonable weather the next year… or the next. All part of this intricate dance we do.
But we’ve fucked all that up. We can no longer find the downbeat in earth’s natural cycles.
This is definitely not part of the great going forward… at least not unless we expand our consciousness to include the whole Universe. Raise the cosmic debt ceiling?
+ + +
We here a lot about ‘tipping points’ these days. The population, the planet, the war are all, either approaching or have arrived at the moment of critical mass, the threshold that leads to a new and irreversible development.
The complete annihilation of our species notwithstanding, my other fear (shit, now I sound like a Republican all terrified and stuff) is that there is no way to reverse the damage that has been done to those systems -- government, science and media… (ok, and religion) -- that most define who we are as Americans. Have we reached an ethical tipping point? Just as every Iraqi child to witness the murder of a family member must necessarily evolve into an ‘insurgent,’ must every American child to come of age during the Bush regime evolve into a superstitious, fearful, reactionary with no moral compass? And will these traits multiply exponentially until we have de-evolved into a society jerked along from one manufactured or real crisis to the next, living in chaos, no one agreeing on basic definitions?
I said to Jae, for all the scofflaws on the road, our traffic system works pretty well. We all more or less agree to (or, at the very least understand) the rules and the reality of the road. Despite rogue drivers cutting off other drivers, mis-signaling their intentions, slamming into bumpers, the system works surprisingly well. Imagine if you could never be sure of the meaning of a red light, whether one way’ applied to some, but not all or a left turn-signal had shades of meaning. It would be complete chaos. For those who did arrive at their destination, they’d me much worse the wear for their effort.
Anyhoo, these are some of my thoughts on this beautiful 4th of July weekend.
Posted by Kay
link | posted by Jae at 12:15 PM |
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