"Whenever I go into a restaurant, I order both a chicken and an egg to see which comes first"

Monday, September 6, 2021

Chicken Little, The Sky Is Falling - COVID, Global Warming, And The Terrified Life Of A True Believer

Religious fundamentalists are convinced that the End of Days is near.  The signs predicted in Revelation have never been more clear.  Ocean levels are rising, men are turning into women, a plague has spread from East to West; and violence is everywhere.  The coming of the Antichrist is near, and a fiery Armageddon will destroy the world within our lifetimes.

Image result for graphics dore armageddon

Martha Evans was an agnostic.  There might end up being a god, but certainly not the Old Testament vindictive, punitive destroyer on a whim, censorious, arrogant and intolerant; and even more definitely not the fairy tale redeemer of the New Testament.  No, Martha’s god would much more likely be a Hindu one, a broad, all-encompassing Being without Being, The One and The Many, with no interest in human affairs or behavior, just existing. 

This agnosticism was a perfect match for her progressive political leanings.  It allowed for secular progress without conditions, freedom of expression, and the possibility of a better world.  Martha, like all of her colleagues, was convinced that the evils of the world were only temporary, eradicable, and impermanent; and that with commitment, purpose, and will, Utopia was not only possible but assured.

However, despite this intellectual foundation and what should have been a rock-solid faith in secular advancement, Martha still worried.  No matter how she tried to reconfigure her rather shaky psyche into the logical progressivism of Oneida and the Transcendentalists, she could not.  At each step of the way and for every cause, there were unsettling, unresolved, and very frightening aspects.

She reacted emotionally and viscerally to each progressive issue.  While she endorsed the MeToo movement against sexual abuse, she was sure that she would be assaulted and raped, and was not just an abstract woman meant to symbolize all women.  Her colleagues were all quick to call out the predatory, subhuman sexual behavior of men in principle; but she reacted viscerally – rapists had her in mind.

Global warming was for most environmentalists a sure thing with devastating consequences; but it was an event which could be mitigated or even halted.  There was something that the human race could do – reduce carbon emissions, radically change petroleum-based energy to solar and wind power; stop the rampant commercialism and frenetic buying of ‘things’; and inculcate principles of good, healthy, respectful living in all children.

Yet for Martha the images of scorched earth, blackened trees, dried, cracked, and desolate reservoirs; a blazing, unremittingly burning sun, and empty lakes and rivers were real.  Every hot day was a sign of imminent disaster, every cloudless sky a warning of a drying, desiccated, uninhabitable earth.

Image result for images fiery armageddon global warming

The plight of The Black Man was not simply a matter of systemic racism, White Supremacy, and capitalist elitism, but a frightening social holocaust.  As much as her liberal colleagues chided her for her hesitancy in embracing the inner city culture and for her fear of Black men, she could not shake the image of racial violence.

The ghetto would certainly erupt, and hordes of Black, bejeweled, gold-toothed, men would come after her.  White privilege was not simply an academic term but a bastion to be stormed, assaulted, and destroyed.  She would be among the first victims, strung up, lynched, disemboweled and beheaded.

Image result for images ghetto black man with gold chains teeth

Then COVID hit, and what remained of the pillars of her already shaky emotional world, cracked and came tumbling down.  Not only was the pandemic something to be dealt with and ended; it was a pernicious, creeping, insidious, monstrous thing.  Although she joined the avant garde warriors who called out those without masks, who ignored social distancing; and although she was among the first loud, vocal advocates for vaccinations, she was scared silly about contracting the disease.  

She quarantined herself within purged, hermetically sealed quarters, never went out, had all her food and accessories delivered and when they were, isolated them in fumigated containers for three days.  She spent thousands on industrial air filters, installing them in every room, washed her hands after touching anything that might not have been scoured and disinfected.

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In short, her life was a living hell – filled with demons, monsters under the bed, ghoulish creatures, and primitive savages.

Every social movement is characterized by the Bell Curve, and progressivism is no different; but whereas the adherents of most other social reform movements fall within the volume of the bell, progressivism’s curve is distorted by the many who fall on the far asymptote – those who absolutely, positively, surely are convinced that the worst will happen.  

Not only might global warming happen.  It will happen, and no accommodation – urban canals and wetlands, vast urban parks, and extreme high rise buildings; recombined DNA to make human adaptation to higher temperatures the new normal; the transference of agriculture from hot zones to cool – will do any good.

Image result for images Bell Curve. Size: 235 x 108. Source: www.pdsnet.co.za

Not only might the Corona virus mutate into a far more dangerous, deadly version of itself, it will; so the efforts to get people to mask up, keep apart, quarantine, and vaccinate have an existential purpose.  Without them the human race is doomed. 

And not only might the Black inner city erupt with an explosion of violence that can only end in resurgent black power, thousands of Nat Turners on the loose, and a Haitian revolution here in America more bloody and bloodthirsty that can be ever imagined, it will.

Men not only might finally and ultimately reject feminism and women’s historical struggle for equality, they will return to a full-fledged, oppressive reign of power.  Neo-Taliban rule will be child’s play compared to American men’s sexual apartheid.

It was progressivism’s perfect storm of existential threats, and Martha became its poster child.  She embodied progressivism’s political determination and its universal, existential fear.  To progressives, one had to approach death and annihilation before emerging into a bright, new world.

Only when she was invited into the Big Tent and the progressive movement’s evangelical rally uniting and unifying all existential terrors, was she somewhat consoled.  So many people, so concerned and upset; so deliberate and passionate; so convinced of their righteousness and God-anointed purpose….It was so all-encompassing that it comforted.  Hysteria among so many was strangely transformed into singularity of purpose and mission.  She could relax.  Everyone was afraid that they sky was falling, but there was safety and assurance in numbers.  She emerged a more sane and reassured woman.

Of course her fears were unfounded.  The Global Warming, Climate Change thing turned out to be hyperbole and eccentric, misplaced concern.  Cities quickly adapted to rising temperatures, corn and soybeans moved north, and accelerated evolutionary DNA enabled a seamless human adaptation.  

The inner city, always dysfunctional, proved to be even more so once the energized but chaotic street movements petered out, and any kind of racial transformation never occurred.  

Successive conservative administrations and Congresses rolled back much of the feminist cant and aggressiveness and a more rational, civil order replaced MeToo; and COVID came and went without much thought.

Image result for images new york city with wetlands canals global warming

Conservatives, rarely upset over temporal, temporary crises, said, “I told you so”.  There is no such thing as progress, they claimed, so there is never any reason to fret about what seem to be obstacles in the road which in reality are no more than shifting sand dunes.  God has his plan, say fundamentalists, so why get exercised about mundane crises? 

Only progressives get exercised, flummoxed, and hysterical about this and that, creating crises where there are none, drifting and swerving this way and that, crossing the solid line in the middle of the road, and ending up in one ditch after another.

As Martha got older and saw progressivism wither, dry up, and be forgotten, she relaxed somewhat.  A chaise longue in Florida, grandchildren, and a modicum of relaxation was how she spent the rest of her days.   One could say she worried about nothing, and that would be close to the truth, but she was a born worrier alive at exactly the wrong time – a time of fretful, unnecessary concern - so couldn’t let go entirely. She finally accepted, however, that politics and life in general cause queasiness, so better not take things too seriously.

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