The Fire Next Time

Photo by Issy Bailey on Unsplash

Reading the news these days almost feels as if The Rapture is almost upon us, and I am not a religious person, but there are enough crises to make me fear that the end is near. Everywhere there are storms, fires, and floods, There are protesters and rioters. People are walking the streets carrying guns, while others are kneeling in prayer.

Perhaps it is 1984, where Truth is lies, and doublespeak is the language of the country.

I have begun to believe that all of this noise and tension is totally out-dated, much like the American political system.

I’m amazed that Trump and Fox News are calling the protesters Marxists. Does anyone under 60 know what a Marxist is? Have they ever seen one?

The idea that either the Left, Center or Right can solve these problems is like giving a Rubic’s Cube to a Dolphin. They don’t understand the problem.

Of course, as any honest, rational person knows, we must get rid of Trump, not because of his ideology, because he has none, but because his ignorance and arrogance is killing people, regularly, all over the world. His re-election could bring in the beginning of another dark age; an age based on greed, anger and ignorance, similar in many ways to living in the year 500. The American Empire did not last as long as the Roman’s, or even the Spanish, English or Portuguese. Its fall will be much more rapid.

Electing Biden may offer some hope, some stability, some decency, but he alone can’t solve the real problems that have spread around the world like the virus.

The problems that are confronting us now are due to the huge changes that humans have brought into the world. The populations of the world are changing rapidly. How the economies of the world function are changing rapidly, so is the climate of the world, the definition of what a family is, of what sex is, of how to have a baby, and about how easily and quickly we can spread lies and distortions around the world. Technology has changed everything except our human DNA, and evolution is not yet catching up, although we are working with CRISP-R to be able to change ourselves, by ourselves.

What the world is seeing, painfully, is that humans have evolved to take care of themselves as individuals, to make the best short-term deal with the world that they can. People need food, shelter and safety. Everything beyond that is luxury. We all size-up a situation quickly, emotionally, and decide what will give us, each of us, as an individual, the best chance of survival. — Yes, there are a few exceptions — many parents will sacrifice for their kids, some soldiers will protect their buddies, some healers will go above and beyond, but each of us puts the highest priority on our own survival, even if that means others individuals may suffer or die.

But, those kinds of survival skills are not going to work as well in the world we are creating. The world seems to have shrunk and there are now so many people on it. Communications are instant, money transfers are instant, weapons can blow us all up in seconds, hundred of thousands of people will be moving to escape the damages of climate change. Developed countries are aging. New, very populous countries are emerging, such as China, India and in Africa, with populations that are growing rapidly. A now, deadly virus has spread around the world in weeks, and it will kill a million people in less than a year.

Technologies have emerged that have changed how we live, work and play. These changes are coming at such a rapid pace that people have become disoriented and frighted. When people, especially men, become frightened they get angry. They become eager to find someone to blame. A scapegoat, a foreigner, a minority, a woman, often suffers as a result of this anger and blame.

All of these issues cannot be solved by an individual. Short-term solutions are proving to be counter-productive. We need to learn ways of building trust and cooperating. We all need to learn to plan for a future, or most of our descendants won’t get the chance to exist. Humans have the capacity to learn these skills, but, as Daniel Kaheman has shown, they have to learn to “think slowly.” People have to understand cause and effect. They have to learn how to determine how well their beliefs align with reality. Survival now depends upon not only knowing that if I do A, then B will happen, but also knowing what to do when B does happen so I can get to C.

Also, in our smaller and faster world, we have to realize that everything each of us does has a wider impact on others. There are very few things I can do that will only affect me. A slight traffic accident now will keep a thousand people from getting to work. A bad mood can travel as fast as a bad cold, especially on Twitter or Facebook. Cheating and corruption can quickly destroy an entire economy, and that is happening all over the world.

It is more important now that we all learn how to negotiate. We need to understand that other people have different goals and different points-of-view, and that doesn’t make them bad people, so don’t turn them into enemies. Humans must learn the importance of compromise. Suvival is no longer a zero-sum game. If your gain depends upon my loss, your long-term gains will be limited, and eventually gone.

Do we have the skills necessary to live in the world we are creating?

What we are seeing right now is not encouraging. We are learning, sadly, once again, that there can be great risks in trusting each other. Our leaders are lying to us. They have established a culture of corruption, and once that starts it spreads quickly, much like a virus, as everyone realizes that they need to grab what they can before it’s gone, just like the toilet paper.

But, maybe, for humans, this is a bridge too far. There is no guarantee that our species will survive. 99% of all the species that have existed on this planet are no longer here.

We certainly have obvious limitations, despite our obvious strengths.

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D J B

D J B

I have been mumbling almost incoherently in response to life's problems for a long, long time. Contact me at djbermont@gmail.com