Truth, Lies, Squirrels and Roger
Perhaps, with the appointment of Robert Mueller as an Independent Prosecutor, the country has turned a corner in the fight against the chaos, distortion, mismanagement and threats to our democracy. But no one is safe yet from the rantings on both sides. It would help the nation if Mr. Trump was able to allow things to settle down and work their course, as should be the case. But, as we have already seen, Mr. Trump is incapable of letting anyone else control the narrative.
But all that will be better explained and sorted out by many who have more knowledge than I do. My main concern is how do we all pull away from the threat of destruction due to greed, incompetency, mental illness and chaos, and get back to figuring out what kind of society and world we need to put together in order for almost all of us to enjoy life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
I’m not talking about jobs and the economy, I’m talking about hyper-link transportation, replaceable body parts, machine/brain interfaces, genetic manipulation, cheap, sustainable energy, and a significant reduction in inter-, and intra-national divisiveness, violence and killing.
Our lives are changing. People live, work, play, create, mate and procreate in ways that did not exist way back in the Twentieth Century. Yet, in too many ways, we are still the same creatures, with the same brains, emotions and tendencies that roamed the earth two-hundred thousand years ago, picking berries and spearing saber-tooth tigers.
After spending twenty minutes trying to catch up with the latest vibrations and permutations of our ruling classes today, I took a walk. I was relieved to hear that the rampage in New York City that killed one person and injured a dozen others was merely a drunk, and not a Muslim terrorist or an Evangelical avenger. No need to call for an upgrade of religious warfare. Sadly, there will not be any funding for alcohol-rehab treatments either.
As I crossed a street I had to step over the somewhat squashed remains of a squirrel, who had never been told by his parents to always look both ways. Was the squirrel’s death the result of a rival chasing him out of his territory on that side of the street, or was this squirrel one of those who turns around in the middle of the street three times as a car approaches, it’s nervous system not being wired to respond to such a fast moving predator. No matter, the new Independent Prosecutor is of no interest to him now.
The death of the squirrel reminded me of Roger Ailes, who also died recently. He and his boss, Robert Murdock certainly made huge fortunes and influenced the politics of the entire world by finding ways to cater to the more primitive human emotions of fear, anger and vengeance. They often threw in a few lurid conspiracy theories, usually involving anti-immigrant and racist undertones, or in many cases, overtones. Mr. Ailes is alleged to have lived his life expressing his own basic urges quite openly, especially his lust. He would have had a much more active interest in the findings of the new Independent Prosecutor, than the poor, departed squirrel. But now they will be forever equal.
Will we now have to endure the new conspiracies theories that involve how the Clinton’s and the MSM murdered poor Roger, who was just beginning to enjoy his “retirement?” We don’t know yet.
But if we are fortunate, and most of this chaos settles down within a few months, then we have to reassume our quest to prepare for our future as best we can. What has gotten lost in all this chaos is that our future is already here, and our lives are much different than the lives of people at any time in the past.
For centuries our “purpose of our species” was first to survive and then to keep the species going. Getting through each day without falling into a ditch, getting an infection, or getting carried off by an enemy, while still getting enough to eat and a warm place to sleep were the tasks of life.
Less than two hundred years ago, things began to become compartmentalized into “work” and “home.” although that was more the case for men than women. Now all the boundaries are blurred. Your can work, not work, work to make enough money then not work, then work again. You can work from home, work all the time, play at work, get paid to play, or inherit tons of money. Some people have many more options than others.
In the developed, industrialized parts of the world, many people today face a set of problems that most their ancestors, except for the very elite, never had the time to think about: “What makes my life worthwhile?” “What makes me happy?” and even more important, “What makes me feel satisfied?” More people than ever now have the luxury of having to create a purpose for their lives. Survival is assured — unless we, as individuals or as a species, annihilate ourselves.
That is happening now due to two major revolutions, the industrial and the technological. Because of the radical changes brought on by machines, the tasks that people need to survive have changed dramatically. They have gone from planting, watering, weeding and harvesting, and then to shopping and cooking, and now to telling your “Echo” to order some tacos from the place around the corner.
Instead of taking six months to plan dinner, find it, harvest it or kill it, it now takes about twenty seconds. That leaves time to pursue your “goals.”
What goals? Who teaches us about finding goals? Most of our teachers taught us skills, not what to do with them. Goals came from our parents — “grow-up, take care of yourself.” Ok, then what?
Our community of peers and friends have powerful ways of transmitting goals and values to us. Things we should do if we want to be liked, accepted and respected. Those things can vary greatly by community.
Often, what is most important to the community, is the community itself: a family. a tribe, a sect, a settlement, a village, a guild, an interest group, a political party, usually consisting of very homogenous members. These groups develop all kind of rituals that helped build strong bonds that strengthened everyone’s commitment.
Now, if the world is going to make progress, those groups, and there must be hundred of thousands of them, need to learn to be more trusting of outsiders, and open to at least considering the legitimacy of different ideas and values. That is already happening at the highest levels of trade and finance. People all around the world are dealing with each other, often combining to make deals, make money, and make things happen. And now, with instant communications, they make things happen very quickly, and often ver profitably.
But back home, in the villages, the rest of the folks feel left out, neglected and exploited. And they often are. The word “elites” gets used as a negative, instead of a recognition of having a high level of a special skill.
History and biology do not offer many examples of hope. There have been very few uplifting, peaceful transitions from one kind of society and economy to another. These kinds of transitions have usually been marked by wars and slaughters, with few winners and many losers.
What we have going for us is the knowledge of that history, and many new tools and technologies that can help us make the current rush of changes take a different path. We have instant communication which could help clear misunderstanding. We have predictive software that has learned how to improve itself as it digests more data. We have, or soon could have, the capacity to feed and shelter everyone in the world, and the ability to generate cheap, sustainable energy for everyone. These are the kinds of things that groups have fought over for thousands of years.
Now, for the first time in human history, we have the ability to solve these problems — if we can cooperate.
But, we are still limited by being stuck with our human brains. We are not evolving fast enough to keep up with our new tools. What these tools are helping us learn about ourselves is that we are basically irrational and emotional creatures. We are full of resentments and envy. We seek love, sex, money, power, and fame, but don’t know what to do with them if we are fortunate to grab hold of one of them for a brief period of time. It seems that it is easier for us to believe than to think and learn, and it is easier to compete than cooperate.
But now, really for the first time, many people are aware that such a major transition is taking place. Many people are aware that we need to find a way to do it right, or at least well enough that we can skip the part where we destroy each other. It is been fascinating to watch this process unfold. We will soon see if we can use all of our new tools to save us from each other, or whether, once again, disruption means destruction.