Villages were burned, men were beheaded, women were sold as slaves, their daughters raped and passed to the marauding troops as plunder, entire families were slaughtered, sprayed with bullets and buried alive. The world watched it all online, spellbound with the terror unfolding, and did nothing until our own innocents met the butcher’s knife. After the Nazi death camps, the savagery in Rwanda and Bosnia, how could moral and enlightened societies have stayed so detached so long in the face of genocide? It was a world gone mad.
Dozens and dozens of school children – glowing with promise and unknowable potential – were massacred methodically, senselessly, in cold blood, year after year, at Columbine, at Sandy Hook, at Red Lake and others. Warped and bitter psychopaths were left unrestrained, unchecked to arm themselves from head to toe and wage suicide missions against our most blameless and pure. Encouraged, then enabled by the profiteers of violence to buy guns whose sole design was to kill a lot of people quickly, efficiently, effortlessly. The men and women elected to protect a nation looked on, delivered empty speeches to each other, wet themselves in the face of powerful lobbies, and did nothing. Could campaign funding and gun money really have mattered more than the lives of children? It was a world gone mad.
The science was indisputable, the evidence undeniable, the credible consensus absolute, and the dire direction of things predictable. The world was warming, the climate changing, sea ice melting, islands flooding, hurricanes strengthening, our fertile fields and orchards turning to dust, 100+ species dying off daily, CO2 levels rising, heat records breaking each year and then the next. Implications for the earth that future generations would enjoy were daunting, yet we only strengthened the poison dosage in the name of growth, focused on discovering more oil deep in the seas, extracting more gas trapped in shale, burning more carbon. World leaders pointed fingers, talked over elaborate dinners, made half hearted promises that they knew were empty, and all the while unleashed the glory of our industries to amplify the cause and intensify the effect, moving us slowly and most surely beyond the point of real options. We were Thelma and Louise, defiant to the consequences and united in that drive off the cliff, holding hands and singing American Pie and dragging future generations along for the ride. It was a world gone mad.
I am normally neither a fatalist nor a pessimist but can’t stop wondering when things will really change, if ever, in light of some of the less encouraging news items recently. Facebook awarded Snapchat with a $16B check earlier this year for 32 engineers and an app that lets people chat worldwide without fees. Alibaba – a Chinese e-commerce company – was valued at over $200B this week by investors gobbling up its IPO shares. All good, but when a pesky but ballooning ebola crisis that is ravaging West Africa can’t be stamped out because the $1B needed is difficult to source, one has to wonder about our priorities.
My next post will be sunny, I promise!