As I am sitting at my computer, looking at my pile of books scattered around my desk and contemplating on just how irrelevant my life has become, I recall watching something of television last night about REM digitizing their song “It is the End of the World as We Know It”. I have always hoped that as the technical revolution came upon us it would lead to people having a better understanding of the world around them. It seems that the opposite is happening, the few people that take the time to access the information available seem to use it only to further an agenda rather than to understand an issue. They take information, dissect it, and pare out anything that they deem to not be supportive of their agenda. They use Google to replace any real understanding and crown them selves well educated and knowledgeable based on their ability to type in enough searches to find another opinion that supports theirs. This is not knowledge, knowledge is information fermented with understanding and contemplation and add a little common sense you may acquire a degree of wisdom. We, in general, are no smarter, no more knowledgeable, and no wiser that we were 50 years ago. Just more opinionated and less flexible in our thoughts. We have basically created a group of pseudo-intellectuals that lack the depth to form an opinion and who are espousing opinions they do not completely understand on people too lazy or unable to access and understand an issue.
One of the casualties of this thinking is negative justification, we see it daily in political banter. One group condemns the act of a politician and another group justifies the action by listing similar actions by a previous politician. The premise that a previous bad act or decision by some one justifies another act or decision is ludicrous. To be specific justifying Trudeaus slow response to native water issues by pointing out Harpers inaction on the same issue bears no fruit. The problem still exists and energy would be better used to force the person in charge to make positive steps to addressing it. This type of argument and justification is ever present in all areas. I recently read an article that suggested British Colombia had no right to address the environmental issues of the Kinder Morgan pipeline because of their history of bad environmental policies. Not to even wade into the pros and cons of this issue it remains that to justify an environmental decision based on a previous failing is similar to justifying punching your sister because you have already punched your brother (yes, an over simplification). That particular decision must be weighed and decided on its own merit and to suggest differently is just to negate your own argument. We need address issues as the individual issues that they are, we cannot justify making bad decisions using previous bad decisions as a foundation to move forward on.
To take this one step farther, during the last American Presidential race I heard Donald Trump during one of his speeches say that we should start killing the wives and families of terrorists because that is what they were doing to others. I will confess this was singularly the most disheartening thing I have heard this decade. Not just because it was said, but because I knew that many people believed it. My entire belief system is that we improve our lot by becoming better people, we cannot achieve this by justifying our bad acts by other peoples bad acts. If we just retaliate in kind we are just different sides of the same coin, it is then just a fight to see who the best barbarian is. The same applies to other areas, I constantly hear the justification for not adhering to environmental responsibilities because there other countries that are worse. Again being irresponsible and justifying it by the lack of someone elses responsibility, my neighbor killed a man therefore it is OK for me to beat a man up (yes, another over simplification). The truth is we are responsible for all of our actions and while it is important to attempt to positively influence those around , be it individuals or nations, we must always attempt to do our best to maintain our own standards to the best of our ability.
Having said that I have to confess guilt in this very area, I am not an educated man, what knowledge and understanding I have comes from a lifetime of reading and hours in front of a computer. I have often been guilty of searching for facts and events that would further my opinion and ignoring or at least minimizing facts and events that were counter to my point. I like all people, do have an agenda. I will always put social programming and equality before a balanced budget, I will always put environmental issues before corporate profit and regional prosperity and will not deny that. There is a balance that can be reached and I will support that to a degree but will always lean to my own belief system, hence agenda.
If we have financial disaster it will cause great strife and needs to avoided, however if we have an environmental disaster it will cause not only great strife but also much more death and suffering if not the end of life completely. We can and have survived many financial upheavals, we are resilient. However if destroy the environment it is not likely that we will be able to come back. It has been argued that we are over reacting to environmental issues and even if that is true or partly true the stakes are just to high to take that gamble. We will lose nothing in the long term by taking care of the world we live in, we take care and maintain our homes and our cars so they will last longer and serve us better, why not our planet.
We currently sit on the edge of a cliff, we are torn by trying to maintain what we have to feed our own self interests and by the nearly certain knowledge that if continue on this path we will tumble down the cliff. We are being pushed and pulled in both directions by people, groups, and corporations that all have agendas. We are in constant fear if we change we may destroy our standing and status quo but also if we don’t change we may lose everything. For me the answer is obvious, I am not willing to take the chance of destroying my grand childrens future in the hopes that the environmentalists are wrong. We are bombarded with half truths and misinformation from both sides, we are played by corporations and politicians for their personal gain. Social media is the tool to the best organized and ignorance and fear is the tool of all. This is truly the end of the world as we know it, although we may survive there is absolutely no doubt that the world we know today will be radically changed over the next 50 years. Let us try to make the best world we can for our descendants. Each one of us must some how search through this maze and find a path. Let this path be your own, do not let people who stand to benefit from your loss convince you that a short term gain is worth long term loss. Just ask Judas how that bag of gold worked out for him.