We’re Still Not Making It
by Mike Meyer ~ Honolulu ~ April 2, 2021
I don’t want to be the bearer of bad tidings, but that seems to be my lot. Any effort at understanding our planetary dilemma leaves me thinking we won’t make it. Any group discussion I’m in seems to end up waiting for me to say how bad it will be.
Talk about baggage. Trying to be positive with Pandora’s Box on your back now includes Sisyphus’s rock to the mix. And the hill is getting steeper.
Our problems' complexity is so far beyond the median level of human understanding that even describing what you are worried about on any given day requires the equivalent of a lecture in subatomic particle physics. And that is hard on someone who studied history and couldn’t handle math until the arrival of spreadsheets.
We no longer live in a world defined by dyads. There are no simple good or bad choices, and the choices we have may have often had only difficult or no-win options. We have lost also lost the ability to let it ride. That is not a choice for survival. Many people have not yet fully understood this.
That neatly defines the underlying problem that makes our survival so uncertain even with Trump's removal and the premature partying for the end of the pandemic. Simultaneously, while Trump’s removal and Biden’s Surprise are legitimate causes for short-term hope, the premature partying shows why, in the end, we are screwed if we go with the flow.
For two hundred years or so, we have struggled to implement the idea of human rights and some representative democratic government. With rising living standards and public education, we’ve gotten pretty far along. We seem to have hit our peak socially and culturally about forty years ago, even though we are still accelerating scientifically and technically.
The growing disparity between our scientific-based ascendancy and our social, political, and economic disintegration destroys our civilization or, at least, our Western cultural foundations. That disparity is visible in the success of genetically engineered COVID-19 vaccines and that of the completely idiotic anti-vax babblers.
This disparity is also visible in Elon Musk’s sequential and casual Starship explosions and food banks' struggle to supply families nationally. While I believe in going to Mars, I don’t think that should be a single person’s project just because they have billions of dollars. They shouldn’t have billions of dollars.
Somehow we have stumbled back into a parody of the age of absolute monarchs who had the stolen wealth and enough brains to go seriously crazy. In the end, these people go bust in an equally big way, whether financially, Louis XIV and others leading to violent revolutions, or with a “rapid unscheduled disassembly” in SpaceX terms.
I think we got too optimistic. Specifically, the people in charge in the related Western Civilization countries felt that technology would always pull our asses out of the fire while ignoring things like genocide, racism, and arbitrary bigotry. The great abandonment of our wholistic existence in this universe in favor of macrocosmic materialism as our sole concern confused us to death.
This deadly confusion allowed the development of morally debased belief systems dedicated to radical denial of reality and oppression of everything. That produced the destruction of the planet that eliminated all options but paradigmatic change that those imprisoned in those denial systems cannot understand. But even those who realize this still hide from our responsibility for the destruction we are facing.
The long unstated assumption has been that if most people meant well, we could ignore the people unable or unwilling to mean well. While that was effectively true in the long ages of farms and village civilization, planetary metropolitan societies with instantaneous networked communication are another matter. Modern alienated populations are fuel for violent opportunists with their own ancient axes to grind.
Thinking that all of this pretense didn’t come with an existentially threatening bill ends when millions demand payment for what they thought they were promised. When telling these people that the checks in the mail wear out, the opportunists step in to say those people, over there, stole what you were supposed to receive.
That payment is not due in fiat currency, invented financial instruments, or hoarded planetary assets, but in what we have taught everyone to expect as rights and privileges. But wait! That’s a future ideal, not something real. You can’t hold us responsible for our ideals!
We have the pleasure of watching Trump’s very marginal attorneys now left with no choice but to deny that any rational person would ever have believed their lies about the election. Interestingly, no one that I have read sees this as a surprising rediscovery of truth, even though it is. For this part of our population, truth exists only as an absurdity that can have no meaning.
We have a troublesome minority trying to go back and remake the rules of the Englightenment and the whole technology-based societies that resulted. While much of the European Enlightenment was based on bullshit and solid confidence that the right people knew the rules and the wrong people would be too busy surviving to get uppity, it became a planetary standard and, over time, an assumed reality but also a recognized lie.
We’ve been struggling with that mistake for the last two hundred years, also. The new problem is that we aren’t either educated enough or intelligent enough to deal with our lies' consequences.
This is behind the problem population’s frantic demand to go back and forget all that abstract stuff about rights and equality. Let’s just sort these things out with clubs, guns, and brute force. I get mine, and I get yours, too, if I can. That is the return to fascism, a modern form of feudalism that puts a small, powerful elite at the top with promises to take care of their friends.
We can’t figure out how to deal with the problem of freedom being an excuse to attack and suppress others while spinning lies and misinformation as a right. Opinion is not fact, but we need to agree to the nature of fact or end up dead as a species.
We need to focus on defining lies first, but that seems to me to have the same difficulty. Whatever we must do, I can guarantee that it will be hard on everyone and very hard, indeed, on those who have chosen to deny both truth and reality. We will need to face this sooner and not later.