Bob Alexander's Commentary
Now this last story sounds like one of the screaming headlines from one of the tabloids clogging a supermarket’s checkout counter but no … this wasn’t a variant of “Bat-child Found in Cave!” or “Donnie & Marie are Aliens!” This was a three-year-old article from The Australian, the biggest-selling national newspaper in Australia.
The leading scientist interviewed was Professor Frank Fenner whose Wiki entry reads, “… an Australian scientist with a distinguished career in the field of virology. His two greatest achievements are cited as overseeing the eradication of smallpox, and the control of Australia's rabbit plague.”
The article starts out on this happy note, ”Frank Fenner doesn't engage in the skirmishes of the climate wars. To him, the evidence of global warming is in. Our fate is sealed.
"We're going to become extinct," the eminent scientist says. "Whatever we do now is too late."
I’ve always liked the following snippet of purple prose.
Before the beginning, after the great war between heaven and hell, God created the Earth and gave dominion over it to the crafty ape he called man… and to each generation was born a Creature of Light and a Creature of Darkness… and great armies clashed by night in the ancient war between good and evil. There was magic then. Nobility. And unimaginable cruelty. And so it was until the day that a false sun exploded over Trinity, and man forever traded away wonder for reason. -- Season One opening narration from the HBO series Carnivàle
I don’t buy into the “god” part, heaven and hell, or the idea that after the bomb humanity embraced reason. But the seemingly forever war of Good vs. Evil … resonates.
For the last week I’ve tried to jettison some words from my day-to-day vocabulary. Old habits die hard but the mind experiment is interesting. Try it yourself. For one week don’t use these words:
Democrat, Republican, Liberal, Conservative, Right Wing, Left Wing, or any other label like Left of Center, Center, or Right of Center. Get rid of all quasi-political descriptors. Because they don’t really work anymore. They’re not very accurate or applicable. If I needed you to take care of my dog you’d need to know if I was talking about a Great Dane or a Chihuahua. “Just saying “dog” isn’t good enough. These days our political labels don’t really tell us anything. And while we’re at it let’s get rid of all the “-ists” and “-isms.” Socialism/Socialist, Communism/Communist, Capitalism/Capitalist, and Fascism/Fascist, are so emotionally charged some of us can’t think straight when they’re plopped into a conversation.
The origin of the story, The Frog and the Scorpion, might go back to the ancient Sanskrit traditions collected in the Panchatantra, but I first heard the tale while watching a bootleg copy of the 1955 Orson Welles film, Mr. Arkadin forty years ago.
A frog and a scorpion meet on the bank of a stream and the scorpion asks the frog to carry him across on its back. The frog asks, “How do I know you won’t sting me?” And the scorpion says, “Because if I do, I will drown too.”
The frog is satisfied, and they set out. Half way across, the frog felt a terrible pain - the scorpion had stung him.
“Why did you sting me?” gasps the frog. “Now we’ll both die”
“I know,” replied the scorpion, “but I cannot help myself - it is my nature.”
A scorpion’s job, other than to make baby scorpions, is to sting, kill, and eat its prey. If there had been another frog down by the stream bank it might have asked the well intentioned, trusting frog, “What part of sting, kill, and eat didn’t you understand?” But it was just the two of them … the frog and the scorpion down by the stream. And the frog agreed with the scorpion’s irrefutable logic. Why would it cause its own demise? Believing the words of a scorpion, but ignoring the nature of a scorpion, they set off to their mutual doom.
Just to set the record straight … I am not a tolerant person. If you believe, follow, and make decisions based upon any of the big deal world religions … I think there’s something wrong with you. I think you’re suffering a low-grade psychotic break with reality. So right off the bat I find it pretty hard to get along with 59% of the world's population. But then again 80% of the countries in the world are capitalist nations. I have a problem with them too as they are equally delusional and arguably more dangerous. And if you’re a religious capitalist … you’re the beast of both worlds.
A friend of mine told me years ago that religion is for people who lack spirituality. I’d add that religion is for people who lack imagination. They need other people to make up stuff for them. “Stuff” of course being the euphemism for what bulls regularly manufacture steaming piles of.
Now we’ve got that out of the way … In honor of the Passover/Easter Season, and since I’m not Redeemed by the Blood of the Walking Undead, I decided to sit back in my comfy chair in front of our Big-Ass-HDTV and watch eight hours of Judeo-Christian Gibberish.
Then the war. My son had just turned three years old when the United States shocked, awed, and invaded Iraq. There were photographs from the war all over The Internet but I didn’t want to look at them. I reluctantly clicked on a link and the first picture I saw was of a little boy, about my son’s age, dead in the rubble with his skull hollowed out. He wasn’t killed by a bus. A safe didn’t fall on him. He didn’t have cancer or any other disease. It wasn’t a terrible accident. He was dead because The United States broke into the country illegally, walked up to this little kid, and blew his brains out of the top of his skull.
Then we found out about the torture prisons.
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