I’ve been thinking about the oppressive nature of the news. I can certainly understand why medicine people used to live in the most inaccessible parts of the res. If the news was important enough to share, one had to travel a good ways to do so, then find the person who might just have gone for a long walk. Being out on the edge of things provided some protection against rumor, gossip, and distraction.
Many years ago I lived in the mountains of New Mexico. I had no phone, certainly no internet, and the drive up from town was 35 miles, half of that on dirt roads. At the time, there was a major scandal in Washington. A couple of times a week someone stopped by and attempted to fill me in on the goings on in the capital. I found myself struggling to be engaged, let alone to care about the outcome; things happening half a continent away simply had no relevance.
At the moment I am without internet, although my cell phone rang a few minutes ago, which probably means I could check e-mail if I were so inclined. The truth is since I have a very simple phone, doing so would be painful and I am disinclined anyway. When the cell rang I was on the porch, try in vain to see the other side of the bay. Now the fog has lifted and the sun is making some effort to come out, the coffee is dripping, and Jennie’s blueberry muffins are cooling in the rack.
The news the past while has not been pretty; perhaps it never is. Then again, maybe the good news faces more challenges to being shared. In any event, we, collectively, seem driven to the edge of disaster. I wonder whether we are like lemmings or buffalo, and will simply keep running, right over the edge, when sufficiently stressed.
One of the trends I find most disturbing is the very human tendency to put greed over common sense. A hot world with a serious shortage of potable water offers a few folks opportunities to further enrich themselves while assuring general misery. An Earth with few pollinators, dramatically fewer plant and animal species, and harshly limited mineral resources would be challenging for a small population of people but dreadful for eight, nine, or twelve billion. I guess the bullies and sociopaths will do fine, but then they already do.
The truth is I would like to do something to slow down this train we are on, but try as I have, I’ve not been able to do much, even collaborating with others. If we are to change the likely outcome we need to work together. Maybe we will begin to do so when things get bad enough, or maybe, like lobster in water warming on the stove, we’ll do nothing till we’re ready for the table.
As a young man I was visited by a vision of such a world, a sight that troubled me and has contributed mightily to the trajectory of my life. Now I see that one can only do so much in the face of prophecy. Right now, the sun is trying to break through, the fog has lifted off the bay, and the ospreys are patrolling the bay. My cell is quiet, we have no internet coverage, and it is miles to town. Friends have arrived, the coffee has been poured, and the coffee cake is much reduced in mass. I imagine it is time to join the conversation. We’ll try to avoid discussing the news.