Taking Another Look at Reality
Each of us forms a collection of life assumptions based on our individual experiences and on things we have been taught to believe. Our beliefs, knowledge and expectations vary widely from person to person and that implies our experience of living has also. Likewise the effects of teaching from parents, schools, churches, books we happen to read, and indeed all forms of media to which we are exposed that render opinions about reality and the relative importance of day to day events, not to mention our social interactions at work and other places. We are, as it were, unique in our specific experiences and not at all unique in our general societal exposures.
I must add that our individual abilities/aptitudes strongly influence the quantity, quality and variety of what we may learn. Also, our specific environment may be nurturing or destructive or somewhere in between, topic by topic, and it has a strong influence. These rather obvious truths about us as individuals and about our exposures to life explain why we are different from each other and why we tend to exhibit group behaviors based on those things that most strongly influence us. We take sides for better or for worse and seek the company of those who believe as we do. We are not truly knowledgeable except for those things that are personal experiences, and even then our perceptions and analyses can be distorted. In severe cases we may even embrace media fantasy as reality, but more often media distortions of reality are accepted as truth.
As a general rule, I value the opinions of other people based on my perception of their knowledge, whether it is relevant to the subject at hand, and whether or not they exhibit the trait of the comprehensive view and the sense of balance that accompanies that view. I like to hear both sides of any controversial topic from a single person. Inability or unwillingness to so perform, and perform well, identifies the individual as not credible due to dishonesty, bias, prejudice or ignorance. For example, controversial topics like abortion cannot be addressed simplistically or in a one sided manner, else the speaker or writer is unbalanced in their propositions and thus their opinions. Strong polarity of opinion and tunnel vision focus on only one or a few considerations of serious subjects characterizes most of us, and that is not respectable or reliable.
Imagine my consternation with events of the past 25 years that donít make any sense to me based on my perceptions of desirable Human Progress. On one hand I know I lack a lot of valuable information from which I could improve my assessments and judgments. On the other hand, certain events are so obvious in their destructive effect on our society and Humanity as a whole that in depth knowledge is hardly necessary. For example, oil wells "drying up" in the USA and the lack of major new oil discoveries elsewhere in the world point to a day of reckoning, particularly with regard to increasing oil demand a.k.a. China, India and other developing countries. How did we get to this point without a good alternative? How could the most knowledgeable people in the oil industry and in the federal government avoid taking appropriate action to reduce our dependency on oil? Our leaders have squandered no less than 30 years pretending that oil supplies are and will be ample for USA citizens.
Yes, I am talking about research and development of alternative energy sources like nuclear fuel (which I detest), solar cells, potential limitless energy from nuclear fusion, harnessing tidal/wave energy, etc. I am also talking about "lesser" subjects like overpopulation, pollution, economic stability, major inflation and creation of a new, global caste system based on absurd acquisition of wealth. How about our USA border incursions by Mexicans as illegal immigrants? Just for the fun of it, I want to include the potential disaster represented by avian flu (H5N1). From all of these considerations and many others, I wonder where we are going and how our leaders could be doing what they obviously are/are not doing that exacerbate our most serious current and pending future problems?
One might take the position that our leaders individually do not control much of the great global enchilada, and as such they cannot strongly influence the course of the world outside their job definitions and geographical domain. Another position is that of Imperialistic expansion of military and economic power by the USA into the Middle East, which might temporarily alleviate our pending oil supply disaster, at the price of our becoming common thieves. Yet another is to vastly expand the power and domain of the United Nations, which is presently reported by our news media to be ineffective and riddled with criminal behavior/corruption. Perhaps that is the only way to gain a global view for our future and perform necessary actions for us to evolve sensibly, provided we clean up the problems within the UN and within strongly nationalistic countries like the USA.
The most obvious problem globally is our lack of solutions and plans for averting large problems in our near future identified two paragraphs ago. That very lack at first caused me distress, for we simply canít be as stupid as we would have to be to continue on our present course re. oil consumption and population growth. Indeed, as our level of automation has grown steadily since the Industrial Revolution, we surely need fewer people to be competing for increasingly scarce resources. The last thing we need is a vast unskilled labor pool whose extremely low cost in wages makes further automation less attractive economically, for that is simply a return to slavery.
We have some wonderful advances in medical areas and in genetic engineering in that same 30 year timeframe, both of which show great promise for extending and enhancing Human life Ö but to what end? Do we give a drowning person a drink of water? Do we give a "sea of Humanity" a lower mortality rate? Of what value will the older people be towards the advancement of Humanity? Maybe being old and working for 60 years instead of 40 years is okay with you, but not with me. The economics of living longer without working donít fly re. pensions, social security, savings, etc., particularly with the reality of permanent inflation to keep the economy pumped up and especially to deflate the economic effect of prior commitments to now older people. Also, people become bored through time, for lack of interest in their surroundings and little ability or interest to learn new things. Boredom leads to poor health practices and eventual death earlier than what might have been. So what new thing do oldsters have to avert boredom if given an extra 20 years of life? Fear of starvation?
Taken as a whole, the challenges facing us are massive and complex and there appears to be no coordinated effort across all the challenges. Nations fail to work effectively and fairly internally and with each other. Corporations consider only their own wealth. Control of the masses through punitive laws and financial insecurity is the only obvious activity of government and corporations and religions. Okay, to be fair there are some people in various religions who attempt to help the poor survive as well as to control them. Hmmm Ö
I began this article with some general definitions of what constitutes our knowledge, beliefs and subsequent behaviors. I proceeded to define our goodness of thought by our ability or the lack thereof to see, understand and defend all sides of a complex problem. I then provided a short survey of Humanityís outstanding critical problems today, and statements of my concerns and consternation and near disbelief that our leaders are consciously failing Humanity in the resolution of those problems. So now I ask, what is going on?
One method I use when I am confused is to ask under what circumstances the seemingly ridiculous might be considered sensible? Letís take a look at our problems using that method and see what rises from the steamy swamp. I will tell you in advance that it isnít pretty. I will briefly outline five different scenarios to illustrate some possibilities and to make my "confusion" become "sensible." There are undoubtedly some other scenarios that have other outcomes of which I am unaware, at least at this moment of writing. If so, I hope my readers will so inform me to help me understand.
The first scenario can be called the technological silver bullet. In that scenario, our world leaders in governments and corporations have knowledge of pending products that will solve our looming energy shortage and fears of viral pandemics and allow our world to expand in population without decline in standard of living or the physical environment through pollution. We even might emigrate in the future to populate distant planets in other solar systems. Alas, I donít believe in Santa Claus, so I donít believe in the silver bullet scenario either. I also see what our president is actually doing, so it is obvious he and his cronies do not have the silver bullet perspective. Does any other nation show promise in the silver bullet area? No.
The second scenario is one I will call "winner take all." In that scenario the USA uses its temporarily superior military and economic power to conquer, in a literal sense, any and all territories of our planet that have desirable natural resources. Also, we have no fear of reprisals from China, India, Russia or any other country because our leaders know the future spread of H5N1 avian flu and other biowarfare agents. Our leaders have long planned to use biowarfare to reduce unwanted populations and to intern yet others as cheap laborers under fear of death. Our elite and some of our workers deemed by the elite as essential will receive effective antiviral medication. The rest of us will receive ineffective flu shots. Do note that H5N1 victims have a dismal survival rate. This scenario is more believable than the first, though it is horrible, and who is to know how big a part of the unwanted populations are within the USA?
The third scenario is the defeatist scenario, in which Armageddon is known by our leaders to be unavoidable. Hence, we will absolutely run out of petroleum and have no practical alternatives and our developed cultures will decline to third world status or worse. Or perhaps scientific study of our Sun has quietly produced deadly knowledge that our planet will not be viable for long. Knowing that we have no good answers, our leaders donít waste time worrying about transitory problems like pollution or illegal immigrant encroachment. After all, if the Titanic sinking of our way of life is a certainty then all conventional responsibilities become moot. We simply enjoy the champagne while we can, and hoard it to the extent we are able so that we might outlast the less fortunate. My, that seems to be right on target, doesnít it? Who cares if we unload manufacturing on China if all our tomorrows are numbered anyway?
The fourth scenario is a disease-like crisis event, in which it is unfortunately necessary for our global civilization to nearly fail so as to right or rebalance power, population and privilege. In this scenario, global transport and trade cease, primarily for lack of energy for transportation, for the remaining oil has become too expensive to use for that purpose. War becomes irrelevant except within continental landmasses, and then armies travel by horse or on foot. Isolationism reigns. We fail to maintain most of our cities and we experience high death rates due to climatic exposure and regional food shortages. Pockets of civilization continue using our remaining petroleum and much coal. Forests disappear. Pollution is endemic due to coal use and that extends health problems to help reduce the overall USA population to 20 million or less.
Scenario five is characterized by the rapid development of China as the one and only global power due to the decline of the USA economically and then militarily. China has no value for human rights. Chinese immigration into and control of the USA results in a rapid and severe decline of Caucasian population, first by a protracted ground war and later by ethnic and racial cleansing. We thus allowed our corporate greed to empower our destroyers and so we perished. The USA returns to conditions similar to those of mid 19th century rural life, except for the massive air pollution resulting from burning coal and a "color" and language change of the inhabitants.
Okay, so why do all the scenarios have in common either fantasy or disaster? Why canít there be at least one upbeat and believable scenario? Is it that I am simply a doomsday person? Could it be that we simply endure temporary economic hardship while our technology catches up to our energy needs? Maybe genetic engineering will allow us to improve Human intelligence to the point we stop overpopulating and stop trying to enslave each other and begin to appreciate and be good stewards of our wonderful planet. Our enlightenment may even extend to the realization that cultures and societies based on economics and on generation of "wealth" at the expense of Human Rights considerations are simply wrong, for they promote massive wealth acquisition and subsequent destruction of Human Rights. One doesnít use an accountant for moral guidance or planning for the future, so societies with power based on massive wealth acquisition economics must end.
They will not end of their own choice. They must destroy themselves and some of our planet and a large number of us. Then, and only then, will rational social and technical evolution have a chance to proceed. In short, we need a real devil to fear so that we never return to the awful place we have evolved to at this time in history. For now the prognosis is uncertain but clearly negative in the short term of 10 to 20 years.
If you doubt my sanity or my logic, simply make two lists Ö one of our best examples of Human progress in the past 100 years and one of Human disasters during that same period. Draw some trend lines. Think about who has the power today and what they are doing with that power. Technology used against people is not progress. Technology development without growing and helping all of us to grow as individuals is not progress. Amoral leadership isnít.
Here is my list of best examples of Human progress in the past 100 years:
for health and promotion of longevity.
I know that I have missed many examples of Human progress in the past 100 years, but I also note that almost all of the advancements made were of a technical nature and not of a societal nature. Most of the societal legislation has backfired from legislative abuse (Social Security) or by court refusals to enforce things like the Sherman Anti-trust law. War is still with us, even after two World Wars including the detonation of two nuclear bombs in Japan. Tens of millions have died for what?
Rather than making a long and negative list of all of our faults and problems in the past hundred years, I believe I can cut to the chase. WE HAVE MADE NO PROGRESS WHATEVER IN SIX THOUSAND YEARS OF RECORDED HISTORY IN MAKING THE HUMAN ANIMAL ANTI-WAR AND RELIABLY HELPFUL TO FELLOW HUMANS WITH LESSER ABILITIES OR KNOWLEDGE OR ADVERSE CIRCUMSTANCES. Instead, we covet, attack, kill, conquer and steal that which we want (colonialism). The summary negative statement is that all of our technical progress is meaningless in the face of our selfish and animalistic behaviors. This is particularly true on the part of our politicians and corporations, and even some of our organized religions. They destroy our best efforts at societal improvement, or even maintenance of a good society, for reasons of seeking ever more power and wealth, i.e. control of everybody and everything. This they have not earned.
Where has this path taken us? Think about the five earlier scenarios and maybe imagine a few different ones. In all scenarios, absolute power does corrupt absolutely. Now, do I hear anyone preaching the gospel of genetic engineering to improve all of us, especially mentally? Do I hear anyone demanding wealth distribution and limits to wealth and power for everyone and every institution? How about enforced birth control to end overpopulation? You best think about that scenario if you want the future of Humanity to be better than dismal. We have all the proof we need to demonstrate that those intelligent enough to force themselves upon us as our leaders have failed terribly to develop us into the best we can be and to maintain our physical environment, our planet Earth.
Will you join other citizens of the world in demanding freedom and independence? Will you even acknowledge that our declared form of government and our defined constitutional freedoms are bad jokes? In our next elections will you act to recover our nation by electing useful people to the Congress and to state legislatures who are not Democrats or Republicans? Will you help identify these people and fund their campaigns amply? Will you later support the arrest, trials and incarceration of most of the people who are our "leaders" today? Will you support legislation to roll back the powers of corporations? Think about it.