The Age of Stupid. It’s about global warming and how we aren’t doing diddly about it. It also puts a human face on the one ideological system that has won over our hearts and minds. It’s not any particular religion precisely. It is consumerism. Consumerism has won.
Yesterday I watched a great movie:
It got me thinking about the international, social and political landscape. Many things look grim. A friend says we must stay in Afghanistan. On Penn & Teller’s Bullshit, a dying man pleads to die with dignity. The man’s doctor feels his personal ethics preclude him from exercising that act of compassion (or letting anyone else exercise compassion and personal choice.) In my city a police officer will be demoted today for smoking marijuana off-duty (and I wonder how many officers are drinking alcohol on duty today?) There’s a lot of silly stuff going on out there and I think we can’t afford to be silly anymore.
There are a lot of problems in the world. We can’t solve them all. Remember approximately 100 days ago the Gulf of Mexico was poisoned (and shall be for decades)? Everyone was saying, “Plug it! Plug it! Why don’t they just plug it?” My answer? Because it’s a mile under ground and water. Because it’s really hard to do. If it were easy, they would have done it quickly.
News flash! Nobody’s going to Mars, either. It’s too hard. The problems are insurmountable.
This isn’t just an unpopular idea. It’s a new idea. For instance, people who believe that we can squeeze all the oil out of the ground and just when we run out of that, a new energy source will appear to replace it (and act just like it and be just as convenient.) Why do they think that? Because they’ve been seduced by the idea that technology can solve all problems. Strides have been made and things have gotten better in many ways. But we still have all kinds of cancer.
Big problems? We’re not good at big problems. Our record is spotty. Insulin was a big one, but not a cure, and how many decades ago was that? Smallpox vaccine? Great. Millions saved. But what have you done for me lately? Medical development and invention from here on out is baby steps. I’d much rather see the military budget for stealth bombers pump up educational budgets and medical research. (Maybe then we can run again instead of taking baby steps.)
Dismaying nugget: Your chances of being killed by a terrorist are always close to zero. Your chances of dying from cancer or heart disease are excellent. We need to rethink how we allocate out resources.
Naysayers who have swallowed the line they’ve been sold forever (“anything is possible”) will say I’m hooked up to an IV of Can’t Do Spirit. Where would we be blah blah blah? I’m not saying progress hasn’t been made. Progress is made up of a lot of little steps. I’m saying we’re not up to the things we think we are.
Examples: Changing Afghanistan’s culture? Nope. (Thought experiment: Imagine the Taliban coming here and trying to change our culture with the same tools? Would drone aircraft change your mind to Allah?) Curing cancer? Not in my lifetime, or sadly, in my children’s lifetime. (The cure for all diseases is just around the corner, according to fundraisers. Actual research scientists? Not so much.)
It’s not all bad. Science has made life pretty great. For us, anyway.
And I have a solution. We focus on the small things. We change what we can change. We change ourselves and hope to transform the world through small, effective actions instead of costly monumental hopeless projects. Resources are limited. We can’t afford to go to Mars, and why would we want to when people are starving and struggling right here, right now?
We donate goats to African families so those families won’t starve. I can’t solve all of Africa’s problems. (Africa will have to do that.) But I can buy a goat. A friend of mine made a documentary that has convinced me I must do so, in fact. This is the highest form of art—art that moves you emotionally, and to action. The documentary will be coming out soon. It’s called Where’s My Goat?
You have limited resources, but you are a writer. Who will you change today through your art?
Filed under: movies, Rant, Writers, Art is a call to action, Where's My Goat?