I KNOW I SOUND RIDICULOUS
How's This For A New Year's Resolution?
I'm quite serious when I say I believe that this tsunami will be for our age what the Lisbon earthquake and tsunami of 1755 was for the Age of Reason. There's a lot of blather about ours being an age at the end of History, "Post- Modern," beyond Reason. But this is so much intellectual logrolling. Meaningless blather. We are in the Age we choose to be in. That was the breakthrough of the 1700's in the West.
Everyone didn't suddenly wake up enlightened on the morning after the Lisbon earthquake. Everyone who knew about it must have been properly horrified. Many may have questioned their faith after such a terrible, cruel and meaningless end to so many innocent lives. But it was only Voltaire and Rousseau, Montaigne and Diderot, Locke and Hume, and a few others, who got the ball rolling on that Age of Reason dealie.
It took a while for the rest of humanity to catch on --some still haven't: Like the Neocons. It was begun consciously by men and women of conscience and good will who were sickened, yes, by a terrible natural disaster, but also by the inhumanity of man to man in everyday life that they began to recognize around them, as a result of the eye- opening they got from that earthquake.
That's what I'm looking for here: A few good men, and women, this time; and, Hell, yeah, why not, some kids, too, need to get into another round of consciousness- raising here. We've come a long way, Baby, but the process seems to have got stuck, at some point.
Doesn't matter, it's our lot to unstick it. Our brave foredads and foremoms reached inside their own PoMe (post-medieval) heads, and stretched their own brains into a slightly new shape so as to accomodate the world emerging in the XVIII Century.
They and their offspring went on to risk their own hides by putting the principles they held to be self- evident into actual practise, in everyday life, unto our own time. Many died, horribly, for those principles. We cannot allow them to be trampled underfoot. We must pick those principles up, and carry them forward.
Our journey is not done yet. Those of you who fancy Science Fiction and Fantasy already have a taste for great quests and bold new worlds. Well, how about one right here on Earth, right now? I'm talking about changing the world, forever, and for better. I'm talking about recognizing our own true humanity, and that of every other human being on the planet, Man.
I'm talking about taking the kind of step we all took as young children, when we first realized our own little powers to do good, or do evil, and consciously chose good, for the most part, most of us. I'm saying it's time to tear down the walls between us and live as one people, worldwide.
It is intolerable that people exactly like ourselves in every respect that matters should be allowed or forced to die, to be oppressed, to live in poverty and ignorance, to lack even the most basic human comforts, and human rights. It is absurd that we in the North and West should declare our principles loudly and at every opportunity, while violating them ourselves, or allowing them to be violated on a daily basis.
It is obscene that we Americans in particular, blessed with everything men and women have ever wanted, should go on revelling in it all, while our kindred spirits worldwide suffer and die for lack of those same things.
Yes, the Neocons and their sorry ilk everywhere will oppose this, as they oppose everything good and right and decent, by perverse instinct. But we must roll right over them: They have gotten too much power, and we need to change that. The fact is, reactionary forces and entrenched interests must be eliminated, no matter how long it takes, or they will destroy the whole bloody planet.
In the meantime, they will gleefully make everyone's lives as miserable as they can in their pursuit of wealth and power. We can no longer tolerate them: If only because they refuse to act with tolerance toward the rest of us, we who are the vast majority on Earth. Their time has come.
I'm no Diderot. No Voltaire, no Locke, no Rousseau. I'd be happy to be Tom Paine, in a time of crisis. But it will take better men, and women, than me to do this. And more of them, everywhere. You must take your inspiration from this awful tragedy in South Asia, or all those lives, and all that suffering will have been for nothing, truly.
You must let the scales fall from your eyes and see our society for what it is, and what it should be, and make it so. You must inspire others to get back on that path, and quickly. Otherwise, we are headed into a very dark age indeed. As the sneaker- slavers say: Just do it. Now.
How? I don't know. I'm not an engineer, or a politician, a teacher or a lawyer. But you are. We have the expertise, individually and collectively, to do everything that needs to be done. We need to put it to good use. Our problem is not technical, it's philosophical. There has been a rising tide of hopelessness in our countries, a fatalism and a tacit acceptance of the worst elements of the so- called status quo.
That is where we start: With our own goddamned attitudes. We can change things because we will change things. We will change things because we are changing things, for the better. We are changing things for the better because we have this clear vision of a better world, which begins with believing that we can make it better, by doing it, every day. It begins with you, today, believing you will do it, now.
Do it. Now.
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