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Life Arts    H3'ed 9/10/12

What it means to be conservative

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The idea of people creating what essentially is a religion based on the world as they know it, at the moment, is a human story. The angels are the people who do not want change. Life as they know it is perfect, why change.

Isn't that how many of us feel today? We are told about global warming, climate change; our cozy world of half a century ago is gone. (Was it really that cosy?) Some even go so far as saying that a century ago was better; that is what conservatism is about. Go back to when with hard work and a bit of luck we lived the American Dream. 

I remember stormy times in the 50s, 60s, 70s, of the last century. But we did achieve major human rights programs that actually saved lives. Strangely some people have forgotten the gains. Today I learned that 35% of Union members in Wisconsin voted for Governor Scott Brown who made it clear he wants to get rid of Unions. I remember the Tea Party member who, when the talk was about getting rid of Medicare, said "don't touch my Medicare." What do those people think; do they think at all?

Even after three, four generations in a small unchanging artificial world I cannot understand angels who want to stay in "heaven" knowing it to be an artificial ecology that they almost certainly will meddle with and so, destroy. I feel certain that a rogue space ship without destination, avoiding planets, peopled with angels in bliss, has little chance to survive even one generation.

One view of the story is a large group of people who have had the same experiences for several generations and then split. One group choosing to grow a sustainable culture on an unknown but real planet, the other group choosing to stay with a known artificial world necessarily maintaining an artificial tightly controlled ecology to survive. 

One group accepts a completely manmade system to work forever to sustain them without change. The other group is willing to learn how to fit into the as yet unknown ecology of a real live planet. Seeing the story that way seems to me the choice between death and life. The angels know themselves to be already in heaven. 

Amazingly like our choice today. Denying the unforeseeable future of life by going back to a known but actually imagined past: death (they are already in heaven) conservative angels. Or, accepting the reality of an unknown planet where we must learn to live sustainably: life, an adventure. 

I cannot talk with angels. What can I say to a Union member who votes for the man who wants to get rid of Unions. What is there to say to bliss people who think they are in heaven. Isn't it obvious even to them that their heaven is not real? 

Reality is constant change. Evolution is changing, growing, balancing--within limits. Manmade changes are unlimited; we never learn from obvious mistakes or even from disasters. We should have learned by now that everything has consequences. And we have always known that even small actions can have large catastrophic consequences. We could not prevent hurricane Katrina, but we could (should) have done more and differently to save people. We eradicate a species but have no idea what that will undoubtedly do to the planetary ecology: extinguished big predators. Predators cannot live without prey, but prey cannot live without predators either. One seemingly small mistake can make a much bigger uncontrollable disaster.

People say they need hope; without hope they cannot live. I think that means they don't want to think about tomorrow's storm that is already here. I cannot talk to hope because to me that kind of hope is unreal. 

People seem to find it easier to turn on the TV (most of the Media owned by the 0.01%) where they are given little tidbits of news and a lot of syrup. They cling to today's bliss, which for many of us is no bliss. They don't want to know that the ecology is broken and breaking, that our Earth is changing under our feet. The air we breathe is not the air we had a few years ago. I learned that today's atmosphere has ten times the radiation it had at the time of Hiroshima--consequence of all the nuclear reactors we built all over the world and the bullets they now make from supposedly used plutonium. The cancer rate in Iraq has gone up at least 5% in the whole country, and in towns that were heavily fought over, a lot more. 

But angels only talk to angels and enforce their bliss by listening to what I cannot but think of as inspired sermons.

In the story there is a choice. They can choose to land and make a life on a new planet, or they can stay in what they call heaven. I once thought we too had a choice. We chose to do nothing about global warming knowing full well what this Earth will be like in ten, twenty, fifty years. (Forget about the end of the century, it is much closer than the scientists told us even ten years ago.) Maybe we could have stopped using oil and coal and make a green economy. But we didn't. Maybe we can still choose some of that. 

It looks like we have chosen to go backward into the future. The bliss of our angels is their wealth, and they do everything in their considerable power, bought by their unlimited wealth, to convince us that global warming is a hoax, that we need to drill for more oil, use "clean" coal--a dangerous myth--, that we need to go back to the good old days that existed only in Hollywood. 

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robert wolff lived on the Big Island, called Hawai'i

his website is He passed away in late 2015. He was born in 1925, was Dutch, spoke, Dutch, Malay, English and spent time living and getting to know Malaysian Aborigines. He authored numerous books including What it Is To Be Human, (more...)

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