Friday, December 26, 2008
To all of you who take the time to stop in and peruse these musings now and then - all the critters and I wish you a very Merry Christmas and the very best in the coming New Year.
I often reflect on the fact that we despair over the state of our world and our lives as if we truly were living in the end times. Yet our world is not engulfed in a global war such as those that devoured past generations. Our scientific resources are greater now than they've ever been. The state of science is greatly advanced over even that from which our parents benefited, and more is being learned about how things work every day.
The tools available to us to protect and improve our health are amazing.
The toys and electronics and other things which enhance our leisure have become ever more incredible. In my lifetime I have seen a transformation in consumer electronics which would have been fit for a science fiction novel in the 1950s, and perhaps hardly credible even then.
Yet people despair about the state of the world, and perhaps that is the cause for greatest concern. I look around at the children who I see, and examine the people who appear on TV, and that, more than anything else, causes concern for me.
At a time when our store of knowledge is vast beyond imagining, when just keeping up with what's new and being discovered is almost beyond our ability each day, the human race is failing to live up to its promise.
Children are getting fatter and less fit. People don't value education and intellectual attainments, preferring simply to consume mediocre amusements that don't challenge the intellect at all. Curiosity, asking questions, challenging the conventional thinking and popular assumptions is a lost art.
The popular culture places a greater premium on "reality" shows than it does on dealing with reality itself. When the promise of a world filled with technological wonders is being brought to life all around us, a significant portion of the human race is failing even to meet the most mundane standards.
People, many, many people, are becoming slobs and THAT worries me.
I don't care if people are slobs. There will always be those who do nothing, contribute nothing, value nothing. What does concern me is that we are subsidizing these slobs when we should be marshaling our resources to give to our best and brightest, letting go the ones who are content to sit and stew in their own juices so that we can direct life's rewards to the ones who excel.
Working in health care I see so many people who are basically just zeroes who devour the resources of our health care system. Alcoholics, drug addicts, idiots who destroy their own lives with bad choices are using up millions of our dollars and wasting our time. Jerks who take turns shooting each other waste millions more. And yet the nanny state insists that we're not doing enough for all these losers.
Worse is the fact that they come from long lines of losers in many cases, people who live in a state of consumption of resources while doing little or nothing to improve the state of the world. And our political and social systems are increasingly geared toward simply giving them more, on demand, regardless of their values or the value of their contributions to our world.
We have so much that we know and can share, but we foist our wealth on people who waste it and don't appreciate it. That, to me, is the great tragedy.
Colonel Jeff Cooper often despaired that the Age of the Common Man gave you just that - common men and women with little to recommend them. He championed the idea that it was far better to exalt the Uncommon Man - the few who displayed higher standards and achieved more with their lives. And I agree with him.
TV programs that are filled with the foolishness of stupid people teach us nothing about being exceptional. They simply take up time better spent in many other pursuits. Yet people sit and ingest this crap. It defines their lives, in my estimation.
There is too much left to learn, to do, to know for this to define our species and our age.
We live in a time of great opportunity and great attainments, yet we stand - no, we sit, too lazy to stand for long - ready to squander the vast wealth that still fills the world. People are happy to be mediocre and worse, as long as their bellies are full and pap fills the airwaves.
I despair not for the state of the world, but for the decline of the human race at large and the political institutions that foster this idiocy.
Yet even these things are reversible. Humanity did not get to this exalted position by being inadequate, but by hunger for knowledge and being willing to do the work to find it. There are many of us who still feel that burning to learn and achieve, and it's incumbent on us to devise systems that reward that mindset.
We are only defeated when we admit defeat. I'm not there yet, not by a long shot.
As long as free people are willing to take stock of the state of their world and set out to improve it, to preserve their freedoms and their values, to give their children a better place, to deny triumph to the sloths and the mediocrities then there is hope for the future.
Merry Christmas! And let's do what we can to make this a Happy New Year, the start of many to come!
Posted by Chaz at 12/26/2008