In Which the Scribbler Starts to Take this Stuff Seriously

Sooner or later, if you blog, you have to tackle the big subjects. You can only write about popular music and superhero movies and your favorite kind of cheese so often before you have to acknowledge that little voice in the back of your skull, the one that says “Dude, really? You’ve been given the kind of platform that Addison and Steele would’ve killed for, and you’re talking about zombie ecology?”

(if you haven’t heard my take on zombie ecology, let me know. Turns out that the only way zombies would work in the real world is if they were actually plants. I’ve got it all worked out)

I’m pretty happy with the world right now. Some people I like and respect are pretty terrified with the world right now. They see Russia and Iran building new empires. I see two bankrupt economies trying desperately to remain relevant in the face of American energy independence. They see ISIS as some kind of existential threat to the world. I see ISIS as a spasm of idiocy that spent four months trying to take a city that should have taken any real army two days to conquer–and failing. They see a world in which the way to combat global recession is to impose austerity measures (Europe). I see a world in which the way to combat global recession is to trust your people and give them MORE money in stimulus (America). They see a threat in every Muslim…

Okay, I’m not in love with Islam. I don’t particularly care for ANY religion (though this new Pope is pretty much a rock star), and Islam is the most idiotic of all of them, but Islam is not centralized, doesn’t have a Hitler, and the most it’s capable of is the occasional horror at a newspaper office or a World Trade Center. It’s not going to suddenly become a world power, facing off against the forces of Good. It CAN’T. There’s no central authority driving it. There are a thousand fuckwad imams telling their congregants to kill themselves for the greater glory of Allah, but Islam doesn’t have a Pope. They’re going to do a lot of damage before the religion dies out, and that’s abhorrent and terrifying, but they don’t have the kind of structure nor unified theology that poses any serious threat to the world and its sane citizens.

Point being, the planet is safer, quieter, and more prosperous than it’s ever been. Global poverty is down. Wars are down. We’re beating viruses. We’re taking care of our weak at a rate that would have stunned all the ancient thinkers and philosophers. I’m not minimizing the pain felt by, say, a farmer in eastern Ukraine dealing with tanks rolling across his beet fields, nor the agony of a Kurdish father whose son died fighting an ancient lie, but the world really IS getting better.

I say this a lot, but I need to keep saying it: we have robots walking around on Mars.


We have entrepreneurs sending private rockets into orbit. We’re seeing amazing increases in the amount of renewable energy we can capture. We have 3-D printers, for dog’s sake; 3-D printers! You can print a HOUSE, if you have enough mud.


The human experience has always been a struggle between the fabulous feats we’re capable of and the death wish we seem to so often exhibit. “It’s in your nature to destroy yourselves” says Arnold Schwarzenegger’s cyborg in TERMINATOR 2. It’s an easy mistake to make, that statement–just look at the Cold War, the Cuban missile crisis, Hiroshima, all the times we thought we were on the verge of global catastrophe

(“Well, those I actively try to avoid,” says Bruce Banner in THE AVENGERS, keeping that infinitive unsplit)

I’ve lived through the threat of Soviet missiles, the gas lines OPEC caused back in the seventies. I’ve lived through volcanic eruptions, through the wars of the Crips and the Bloods, through the dire catastrophes of Obamacare and gay marriage and Ebola. We’ve had crack babies and gay Boy Scouts and chokeholds and boat people and Piss Christ and attacks on the sanctity of marriage, the destruction of the family unit, we’ve had riots in Los Angeles, corruption in Chicago, devastation in New Orleans, we’ve survived earthquakes during the World Series, stock market crashes, and the bird flu.

People, really–STOP. Stop making up apocalypses. I understand the impulse. I understand the desire, especially when the Other Guys are in power. I understand the desperation the conservatives felt when the liberals had the Senate and the White House, and I understand the desperation the liberals feel now that the conservatives have Congress and the Court. But STOP IT.

just stop

It’s hard to live as long as I have (forty-five years, forty-six in a couple of months) and not collect labels. I’m white, Italian-American, a liberal, an atheist, lower middle-class, a son, an ex-husband, an American, a capitalist, a right-hander, a college dropout, a fan of the Raiders and A’s and Blazers, a cat owner, a reader, coffee and not tea, beer and not wine, I sleep on my back, heterosexual, food sensitivities to fish and melons, I have splotchy skin and ears so hairy they actually need shaving. But finally I’m a human. We really ARE in this together.

Not religious, remember? But religion has provided us with so many important lessons–the Commandments are (for the most part) pretty good, barring all the coveting, which we just can’t help (and the inevitable restriction against free thought, in the First). Islam, in spite of its being stupid, has an admirable diktat for hospitality. Buddhism is a delightful concatenation of friendliness and happiness and wishy-washyness. I like Shinto and Jainism and all the other non-kill-people religions. The animistic religions are cool, and the pagan ones, and I’ve known a few Satanists who were pretty good folks (though a bit weird). And I’d like to say that eventually we’ll get away from all that crap and focus on being human, mortal, finite, but we never will. Some of the smartest people I know are believers. Some of the stupidest are atheists. And that’s how it goes. I’m going to spend a blog post very soon on my atheism, and another on my liberalism (and I’m NOT going to spend one on my being a Raiders fan. You don’t already know, you can’t understand), and I’m going to talk about other horribly divisive stuff. But for now, please…

Calm down. The world is good. Enjoy it.


One comment

  1. I agree on the whole that the world is good. Better for a lot of us than it’s ever been. But still bad enough for some to need to see a change, and they’ll fight for that change in whatever way they think will bring it about.

    I’ve got no beef with religions, only their most pigheaded practitioners who either distort their tenets or who ignore the reality that those tenets are probably not going to advance peace and love. What I fear in the rise of Islam in the form it’s taking in IS is exactly due to its grass roots, no leader foundation. I fear an Israel/Palestine-style slide towards constant random terror and kneejerk militarization. We saw recently how a comparatively minor event like the attacks at Charlie Hebdo and the kosher market galvanised almost my entire adopted nation. It was eerily reminiscent of America after 9/11, with just enough of a dash of French skepticism to keep it real. Maybe social media allows calmer voices to be heard faster. Maybe that will save us all from killing whichever enemy du jour we’re going after. I hope so.

    Sometimes I think it’s sheerly because I’m older that things look okay. This too shall pass. Maybe there’s a reason people have preferred elder statesmen instead of the young bucks… until now. Just musing.

    Now, about your ears…

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