What we need is an old time congress of world leaders and experts, like they had in classic 1950s science fiction films.
Take Crack in the World, for example. A group of scientists attempting to tap the Earth’s magma for energy make a miscalculation — whoops! — and end up causing the world to split in two! Wow!
Rather than panic on the one hand or deny it on the other, people pulled together with dignity and a clean shirt to make things right. They gathered experts and leaders to follow the facts and create solutions. How reassuring and efficient.
Of course this is only a film, but that’s not the point here. The film is something like a morality play showing us through entertainment the values and best practices of success; it praises science and reason, even if it does require a dose of Hollywood starlet to get it done. (We are human after all.) And our heroes are heroes because, even with their flaws, they take forward thinking risks believing in success. No belly aching in these old classics!
And what do we have today in comparison? Reality television. And much of that decidedly is NOT about pulling together behind facts and reason to overcome a threat.
So let’s play make believe and imagine a disaster looming on the horizon today — Global Warming? Economic collapse? Fall of the United States? — what can we expect our society to do? Would we pull together, consult experts, and use reason and logic to rationally confront the threat?
Nope. If you’re like me you’re on your back laughing tears right about now. Don’t be silly. Those were Can Do days back then. Today is the era of Can’t Do.
Yes, science fiction, especially 50’s and 60’s era sci-fi, can be silly, but they highlight a positive cooperative attitude.
We’re not wired that way anymore. It is each for himself and each expects too much. We live high on caviar dreams and ruin ourselves pursuing them. If anything gets in the way, we cry like spoiled children. That’s what has become the prevailing expectation of our divided society, is it not?
Today, for example, we have a party of Chicken Little — Bachmann, Palin, Cantor, Boehner, McConnell, et al — who make even the safest odds impossible. Even worse, the same people who give us reality television are the same people funding the irrational success of these political dolts. Our “leaders” are merely pawns, serving the narrow interests of a few at the hands of the ignorant. Nothing Can Do about that!
We have threats today more serious than half the world breaking off and tumbling into space because the threats we face are real, the damage imminent.
But…well…maybe…we’ll see…after all it is always someone else’s fault and we really cannot afford to fix things anyway. Problems, problems, problems. Best to go into the bunker and ride this one out…alone.
That’s the difference. No sense of community and shared experience. We live by the myth of rugged individualism. We question authority and knowledge. (If it ain’t in the Good Book….) I don’t think I am exaggerating. We have “leaders” who genuinely embrace these principles and steer policy by them. Again, look to the spectacle of conservative American politics for your proof. The greatest nation in the world is losing to ignorance and paranoia.
And it gets worse.
Where are our experts today? They are shunned, denied, mocked. Conservatives in particular have no need for tiresome facts. They have opinions and regardless of how wrong they are, they stubbornly promote them as fact.
Don’t think this is true? Tune into talk radio or a GOP press conference. Read a conservative blog.
Man, and they did it all with so much more style back in the day. Nice suits, hats, great shoes and glasses, men and women both. Even if you’re going to drop a nuclear bomb into a volcano, your best Sunday suit is de riguer for watching the men go to work.
What do we have today? Well, if you’re a Democrat, you likely still have a sense of style, but why is it conservative men seem to all look like college basketball coaches and the women…well, let’s leave that alone. Stupidity isn’t very sexy.
The Professor and Mary Ann…
So now I am getting silly, and unlike the silliness of old films, my silliness might lean more toward pointlessness. I’ll go on watching old films, however, and avoid the tragedy unfolding before us…at least for another day or so. Just enough time to recharge. We got a lot of work ahead of us, a lot of Can Do work…
Unlike Crack in the World, our world really is coming apart, but we’re more likely to oppose each other rather than come together. That has to change.