A Crisis of Critical Thought

Small wonder that the survivalists are putting aside rice, beans, and instant water (just add water) against the coming cataclysm. The evangelicals are looking for signs of the apocalypse. From every mountaintop some self-proclaimed prophet is shouting the doomsday lyrics. The end is coming! From the right and left come the clarion call of doom. I hear that somewhere a chicken is running about announcing that the sky is falling.

Wait! Take a deep breath, trying not to cough from the smog. Now, I don't think the end is coming. I think there are too many opportunities for every single person with a half-baked thought or a personal agenda to find a bully pulpit from which to decry their feelings of inadequacy or to claim messianic anointment.

Once upon a time we taught our children to think for themselves. No more. Sure, we had newspapers and television news. We also had editors and Walter Cronkite. My personal view is that newspapers and TV news once told us what was happening. Today, they analyze it to whatever degree their editors and sponsors decide. Personally, I don't want to be told what the news means. I want to figure out for myself what it means to me.

Are we, as Virginians, Americans, or humans facing obliteration and extinction? Without a doubt. With the exception of the lowly cockroach and a few single-cell lifeforms and viruses, all living species eventually wear out their welcome and die out. In the case of the human race, we are a self-destructive species speeding ourselves prematurely toward that end. Let me list only two reasons why:

  • There are too many people on the earth and the number continues to grow, most disturbingly in areas and among populations unable to support themselves. Modern food science can produce more yet is expensive and uses resources based upon science that tires the soil and pollutes the air and water over time.
  • We are polluting our earth, water, and air at an alarming rate. The hydrocarbon chain hangs about our necks like the chains binding Marley to his former life in Dicken's A Christmas Carol. Items made from oil and discarded do not degrade in our landfills. Energy generated by oil, gas, and coal produce waste gasses that destroy nature's protective atmosphere. As Marley warned Scrooge, if we do not change, we are, indeed, doomed.

Which returns me to my statement about self-proclaimed prophets on their mountaintops. Those with agendas, and they all have agendas, strive to control what we hear and read; to skew our viewpoint one way or the other. They endeavor to have us ignore our own critical thought processes and believe that their version is the truth. Two different news outlets can report on the same news event and yet find two opposite viewpoints to extol; each proclaimed the truth and, certainly, in support of the appropriate agenda. And we are supposed to follow lemming-like and without question. Isn't that why they're our leaders? That's what they tell us.

Use all five senses. Then apply that sixth sense. If what you are told and shown smells and looks like garbage, it's probably garbage. Your favorite talking head may tell you that it's the smell of a rose garden. Don't believe the story just because you want to. It won't change that pile of crap into chocolate mousse just because someone says it will or because you really want to believe that it will. Investigate. Don't ignore the man behind the curtain. Question. Pick through the obvious chaff and search for the grain of truth. Learn and decide for yourself.

It's far easier to be led into the comfort of an alternate universe and even more difficult to find your way back to harsh reality. Reality does not change just because you hold up your hands in front of it to bock the view, squint to blur the vision, or change the color of your glasses. That's what reality means … reality.

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Friday, 23 February 2024