Thursday, May 26, 2011

Slow-Motion Apocalypse

The world didn’t end last weekend as predicted, but tornadoes have made the middle of America look as if it did. Devastation fills TV screens, making those safe at home aware of how fragile the daily existence we take for granted really is.

How do we reconcile going about our days as if we were safe and going to live forever with the knowledge deep in our bones that we walk on a thin crust of earth that could crack at any time and swallow us forever? How do we cope with the world without either becoming numb and indifferent or acting as though we could control it?

A tornado victim tells of lying in bed with his wife and seconds later finding her gone while his own life is spared. Others stare in wonder at rubble where their homes were minutes earlier. Even after we click the remote control, what they are feeling is in the room with us.

If Nature does not care whether we live or die, neither do the darker recesses of human minds. We learn that the gunman who shot Gaby Giffords and killed six others isn’t “competent to stand trial,” and our desire for an explanation or justice or revenge disappears with him behind the walls of an institution.

We watch cocksure politicians spout certainties as if they were the center of a universe with others only supporting players or pawns in a drama starring their self-righteous selves.

Every day, the news is about devastation. Apocalypse may or may not ever come for the entire human race but surely awaits us one at a time. Can’t we learn to live our lives together as decently as possible without spending what time and energy we have fighting and demeaning one another?

Or is that (dirty word alert) naïve?


(O)CT(O)PUS said...

While the cause and treatment of schizophrenia is still poorly understood, the cause of climate change is known and well documented. For years, computer simulations have predicted increasingly more violent storms; yet, climate change deniers (like the DDT lobby and the tobacco lobby before them) are spreading disinformation and impeding legislative initiatives. What I know of human beings: They will not change themselves unless/until they are feeling excruciating pain. In other words: A lemming species.

Anonymous said...

"Can’t we learn to live our lives together as decently as possible without spending what time and energy we have fighting and demeaning one another?"

Seems the older I get (68 now) the more often I ask a very similar question. I've found advancing age has moderated many of my pursuits as well as attitudes while likewise shortening my patience with assholes, repuglicans, and commercials that are run back-to-back.

While I still enjoy an outdoor life, I've pretty much given up hunting, although I'm not bothered by taking the odd trout from time to time.

I've also noticed being emotionally moved (to tears) by an increasing number of the books I read, the odd movie, and the violence inflicted on my human brothers and sisters.

In conversation with my few friends, this condition seems to be part and parcel of growing older. Wisdom or senility? Damned if I know.

In any event, having recently found your site, I'd like you to know I'm enjoying it a lot!

John said...

The old Russian farmers of North Dakota have a saying, passed down from their grandmothers and grandfathers, that roughly translates to "death makes everybody equal." Once pushed around by Czars, then by banks and railroads, they understood inequality.

Seems all we have left in common any more is our mortality.