Monday, April 14, 2008

Ignoring the apocalypse

It came to my attention Friday that the world is in a very bad way.

On that day I had brain fever over a U.S. election campaign featuring three candidates who wouldn't be fit to hold the door open for Thomas Jefferson; the Islamization of Europe and once-Great Britain; the Latin American colonization of the United States, in response to RSVPs from George W. Bush and his mob, the corporate oligarchy, and the Democratic Party; the repression of free thought and free speech under the iron blanket of political correctness; and a few other signs of the times.


Then I went home and made the mistake of watching the BBC World News. Lead story: food price inflation and shortages. Tape and stand-up from the Philippines: queues for bags of rice distributed by soldiers. Sound bite from young woman waiting in line: "I'm here because I need to feed my 12 kids." That's right: 12 children. Tape and stand-up from someplace in Africa: the usual sullen faces and starving children. Talking head: We must vastly increase aid to Africa. Rapidly growing population.

Until it can no longer afford to, the West will keep sending aid, encouraging the very behavior that plays the largest role in creating the problem in the first place. They get more food, they get more medicine, they produce more babies and thus more of what the pundits call "population pressure," because they can't pronounce the word "overpopulation." We're killing people with compassion.

A person could get to feeling bad, or even worse.


For the weekend, I practiced avoidance therapy. And I'm here to tell you it works. Remission of symptoms occurs remarkably fast, no prescription is needed, and it's free.

Saturday and Sunday I completely avoided anything resembling news. My only reading was about the past — Herodotus. Adrian Goldsworthy's major biography of Julius Caesar. Boswell's Life of Johnson. Willa Cather's Death Comes for the Archbishop. For me, all our present troubles were hundreds, or thousands, of years in the future.


And I looked at the glories of springtime. Pink fountains of flowering weeping cherries. The pale yellow of daffodils, ribbony purple hyacinths, tie-dyed pansies. Living flying machines, perched on greening branches, chirping happily to welcome the lengthening days.

And meditation.


Just two days was enough to get me sorted. Was it escapism? Frivolousness? Copping out? I don't think so. The past, the imagination, the natural world, are just as real as the countless tragedies that occur daily and the threats to our well-being.

Which is to say, they are both real and unreal. The phenomena of time and space are utterly real to our normal mode of consciousness, and our moral will demands that we treat them as such, doing what is in our power for good and reducing suffering as we can. On another level of consciousness, only the spiritual is real. Stepping back temporarily from the world's agonies and worries helps give us the time and insight to prepare a place within for the ultimate reality of God, whenever and however it arrives.


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