Here at the End of the World

Here I sit, at the end of the world.  This seems to me to be the perfect time to think about the condition of our human race, and our world.

Our earth.  What has happened to us, that so many of us truly don’t give a shit about the way we leave the world when we go.  (Please excuse my language, but I am an expert in the area of not giving a shit, and that is what is happening.)  I know there exist in our society people who refuse even to consider that the world is changing, whether or not we are causing the change.  Many of these members of society are nearing the ends of their lives, and don’t feel it necessary to look  ahead to our condition 50 years from now.  I cannot imagine any other reason to ignore the changes we can make in an attempt to slow the inevitable upheaval we all, or our children all, must face.

And let me say again, I really don’t care if one thinks this is just a natural cycle of the earth, or if that person believes it is totally the fault of humans.  My best guess is that both causes are involved.  Now, if a person’s house were afire, and that fire burned by itself, without any help from anyone, would s/he stand by and watch it burn?  Even though we disagree on the reasons for the change, our polar ice caps are still melting rapidly, as are our glaciers, which will be gone, scientists agree, in 25 years.  Our air in places is too thick to breathe with the toxins spewed from industry, and from the more than one billion cars driven around the planet.  If someone doesn’t believe that we are having an effect on our climate, fine — I’ve learned that I can’t expect to change anyone’s mind.  But why, in the name of everything that is holy, do they insist on continuing to add to the problem; on burning fossil fuels, creating waste and smog, and ignoring the different sustainable energy sources in the world.

I could go on like this forever, but I have another area to review.

Speaking of people who don’t give a shit, I am compelled to address the subject of automatic weapons and handguns, and their availability for and ease of purchase in the United States of America.  I am not trying to stop hunters from hunting game — of course one would need a rifle to shoot a deer.  But not an automatic, or even semi-automatic weapon.  Likewise, hunters use shotguns when they hunt birds; I’ve chomped on one or two pieces of bird shot in my life.  But no one will be hunting birds with handguns.  No one needs a handgun unless they believe someday they will shoot another human being.

We are raising our next generation with such violent tendencies.  Video games, which started out as innocently as Kong and Pac Man, have veered off into a competition for the creator of the bloodiest, most vile and inhumane game possible.  Current films are graphically computer-generated, so as to make impossible scenes seem reasonable, and horrifying acts, acceptable.  Our radio and television offer no less provocation — a movie may be rated R because a character swears all the time, but that same film would be rated PG-13 or even
PG  if it only contained sadistic violence, hate, and disregard for human life.  What has happened to us?

When I was a kid, movies were not as graphic as they are now, but we had our share of car chases and shoot-’em-ups and mobsters and disaster films.  The difference, or so I say, is that we were taught, by our parents and in school, and by the common understanding of civility, to have basic human consideration for others.  The violence rarely overwhelmed us.   And if it did, we could turn to a teacher or parent, and process the observed behavior as fiction; not the way ordinary people act.

Now, parents don’t talk to their children much — they set them in front of the TV, or the computer, turn it on, and leave the kids to grab what entertainment is available through the waves.  When was the last time you saw children playing kick-the-can, or softball, or even just bombing around on their bikes, on a hot summer day?  Do you know any parents nowadays who encourage their kids to ram around and get dirty?

Our local parents banded together to get AstroTurf for the football field, and when I asked, two reasons were all anyone offered:  1.)  Other schools have it; and why should our kids play football on a field where they might get dirty, and require parental intervention to clean the uniform for the next game?  After all, dirt is so difficult to get out of a shirt.

Right.  Women have cleaned clothes by beating them on rocks for millennia.  Only in our germ-free artificial world do we worry about sanitizing our hands, and using special bathroom paper towels, rather than a regular old towel that will possibly get dirty.  We use anti-bacterial soap, completely artificial deodorants, shampoo that scrubs away the natural oils from our hair, so that we must buy conditioner to repair it.  Any smell, any taste, any observable flaw is to be avoided.

As I sit here, at the end of the world, I wonder if we can save our society, our human race, our planet.  I so very much hope that we can, because we have lost our way, and civility and courtesy have gone the way of the dodo bird, replaced by violence, selfishness, and disregard for our fellow and sister human beings.  The change must happen soon, lest we devolve into barbarism.  We are going to be  technically savvy barbarians, for sure; but we are losing our civility, our courtesy, and with it much of our humanity.  Time has come to change. 

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