• Posted: Sep 16, 2011 01:00:51
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If the rain comes
Those lyrics from the Beatles song Rain strike me as appropriate to not only Climate Change Denyers, but wishful thinkers of all sorts. They assert something they hope to be true, but offer no conclusive proof that it is true, then run for cover when conclusive proof does come rolling in refuting what they have asserted. The preacher who a few months back very publicly predicted the world would end comes to mind. He is now conspicuously silent and out of sight as the world merrily chugs along past its expiration date. There are numerous other examples, almost all of them within the ranks of the Conservative Right. Whatever happened to respect and reverence for the truth? Since when has truth become that which amasses the most tweets and retweets? Doesn't anybody actually think anymore?
It used to be that media talking heads sought to achieve and maintain something academic observers called "credibility". That is, they carefully double-checked their facts and were cautious never to over-sensationalize or over-speculate on the possible meaning of those facts. Today, within many media outlets, the practice is quite different. Today, their game is to sensationalize and speculate well beyond what a prudent and dispassionate assessment of facts would dictate. Today, their game is to grab viewership or readership any way possible. Start with the facts, yes, or make them up, same difference. Their imperative is to spin a story that stirs anger, fear, amazement, or resentment because that's what sells. And continuously campaigning Conservative politicians have begun to play the same game. Michele Bachmann's recent misguided assertions regarding HPV vaccine were particularly irresponsible. Where, where are the minds of citizens who watch, listen to, and read such crap?? Didn't they learn anything at all in school about critical thinking??
Democracy depends on people being able to pool their knowledge, openly discuss, and collectively decide on an optimized course of action, action that seeks the most fairness, justice, and sustaining good for the most people. "Truth, Justice, and the American Way" was how the creators of Superman put it. And they weren't wrong. That's a mantra several generations of Americans have lived by. And during that time, our country grew and prospered. But where has that mantra gone today?? It has faded with the diminishing bank accounts and job security of the middle class. In its place is the mantra "what's good for me is good for everyone", a mantra that takes no account of consequences, nor has it any demonstrable validity. In fact, it definitely is not good for everyone because within in a zero-sum game whatever a winner wins, a loser loses. And beyond inflation, there is no moderating growth in the overall size of the economic pie.
The rains of consequence began when the housing bubble burst and speculating wishful thinkers ran for cover. The fact is, though, there were many who accurately foresaw what was about to happen. Some even tried to sound a note of caution. But no one listened. Their voices were drowned in a cacophony of speculative hucksterism. But where again were clear thinking citizens?? Where were the insightful monitors of truth and its limits? Where was judiciousness of action? Why did the American Way suddenly become "grab whatever you can get, and grab it now"?
Some point to the popularization of notions developed by author Ayn Rand for an answer to that question. And maybe so. But that's a poor understanding of Ayn Rand. Her ideas were developed out of nostalgia for the pleasures, privilege, and freedoms of the bourgeoisie, lost to her under the harsh collective constraints of Communism. Further, her ideas take no accounting for human population growth and enterprise undercutting the biological environment that sustains us. In her world, there are no consequences that need be accounted for as long as one practices remaining true to one's self. Strongly religious folks further justify that belief by asserting exceptionalism within the grace of God. "We are His children and therefore He will protect us." All wishful thinking, to say the least.
In truth, the rains of consequence will come. We can and should plan appropriately. Nursery rhymes tell us that much. A healthful share of the overall economic pie is possible for everyone only if we work together in coordination and complementation. Size of the overall pie will stay the same or shrink significantly if we continue to exploit and steal from the environment and from one another. Truth to be learned from within the rains of consequence is that one person's profit is not the same as healthy viability for all.
Respect for truth and justice are the bedrock of an American Way that provides for everyone. Truth that is not true and justice that is not just is basis for a division of society into Fascist haves and exploited have nots, nothing more.
Sadly, dealing in and with the truth is far easier and potentially far more productive and just than most people today believe or can imagine. Such is the new poverty of our times.
Rain, I don't mind
Sunday, August 2nd, 2009
76.8 mm 364 mm