I write a post each year on January 1. Sometimes these are personal, but this year, I want to talk about time.
I don’t believe in time itself. What I mean by this is that time is a reference frame and a useful tool, but it isn’t a real thing beyond that. Beginnings and ends are all relative.
As far as ends go, there are countless ways for human beings to go extinct. We could blow ourselves up with nuclear bombs. Climate change could lead to the planet being uninhabitable for humans. A near-Earth supernova could cause a mass extinction event and end human life.
And then what will we be? What will all of our toil, our sorrow, our joy amount to? Nothing. But we always will have been. And maybe that’s something.
If I had to sum up 2015 in a word, it would be “loss.”
It’s a euphemism for death, and this year seems to have had a lot of it. Former teachers, professors, colleagues, and friends of mine are absent now, and my sphere of existence is dimmer because of it. Stepping outside of my own circles, it’s a fact of our world that death touches everyone–through violence, through disaster, through disease, through happenstance.
“Life and Death have been in love for longer than we have words to describe. Life sends countless gifts to Death, and Death keeps them forever.”
I’m not an alarmist or a fear monger. And I can’t evaluate the world in terms of better or worse, because to pass value judgments is to have an evaluative standard I don’t possess, but sometimes I can’t help but be afraid for myself and for people I love, because of where they live and how others judge their race or their gender or their culture. I don’t like being cynical, but I also can’t fathom feeling particularly hopeful in this chaotic world.
I am not an environmentalist. Though I probably appear to fit the profile of a typical environmentalist… or I did until the giant gaggle of yuppies and mass media acquired the rights to the word “green” only to start selling it off piece by piece.
I like polar bears. And I kind of like penguins. (I mostly just like watching polar bears and penguins swim. It’s therapeutic.) And so I am very sorry that their habitats are melting away, but let’s face it, no one is recycling for the polar bears.
Once upon a time in a previous rant, I explained that I find environmentalism to be a misnomer, because no one really cares about the natural environment. People aren’t “saving the planet” for the sake of the planet, they are “saving the planet” for the sake of the livelihood of human beings. We need the environment to stay similar enough to how it is now so the lifestyles we have come to love can be maintained. We don’t want California to fall into the fucking ocean. We don’t want all of our coastlines to be washed away.
And while these may be catastrophic events that would alter the course of human events, frankly, I don’t care all that much.
But more importantly, if I did care, it’s too late. Oh, I believe Al Gore when he says that the effects of global warming (ManBearPig) can be reversed to some extent if we do something about it now. That’s not what I mean by too late. What I mean is that we’re far to set in our post-industrial revolution ways to have enough people make enough lifestyle changes to make a damn bit of difference. Americans love their cars and eating meat too much.
(Incidentally, the other reason why I don’t care is because I want the color green back. I’ve never really been a green person (I prefer blue), but I miss being able to say the word green without people thinking you’re talking about a bamboo floormat for your Toyota Prius.)
Green doesn’t even mean anything anymore, it’s a marketing tool. It’s a fad.
Environmentalism has become a fad.
“You know, my kids think you’re the greatest, and thanks to your gloomy music, they’ve finally stopped dreaming of a future I can’t possibly provide.” – Homer Simpson to Billy Corgan
Children and teenagers are different today than they were when I was a kid. I think I grew up in the cusp of this change, but when I was in high school, kids didn’t have cell phones, or blogs, or TMZ or overexposure. This was in the days when instant messaging was still innovative (We used ICQ), and before cable modems and DSL were the norm. Where my generation, we children of the 80s, was disaffected, this younger generation seems almost over-affected.
I think when it comes down to it, Rousseau was right about a lot of things. Children are exposed to too much, too soon. They lose the innocence that comes with being young. They learn fear at an early age. Parents are more over-bearing, more over-protective, or at least they think they are being so… but the real problem is that the world has changed so rapidly, that parents don’t know what to do to “protect” their children anymore. And so most attempts are misguided.
The thing is, kids are going to be okay.