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May 07, 2008

Sorry State of the World (Personal)

It’s been a while since I’ve had time to post a new entry; not because there’s been nothing worthy of comment, but because, like everyone else, I’ve been too busy keeping up with the absurd pace of modern life. We humans seem so committed to seeing life as a struggle that we are literally unable to live in harmony with either ourselves or other species. That’s been our history since we began keeping records, but now that we’ve  crowded the planet with more of our progeny than ever and are still busy plundering its riches as if there were no tomorrow, it’s starting to catch up with us in a remarkable cascade of bad news that we pretend not to notice.

One hardly knows where to begin, but a good illustration of our inconsistency is that while furor over Jeremiah Wright was whipped into a frenzy  by repeatedly airing  some of his more inflammatory out-of-context remarks, the less rational maundering of a Texas bible thumper were gratefully welcomed by John McCain in March and seem hardly to have been noticed.  

It doesn’t stop there; I was shocked the other day when an acquaintance whose judgement in other matters I’d always respected expressed outrage with Obama over the incident and then became testy with me for pointing out that everything I’d read and heard attributed to Wright had been factually correct. On the narrow issue of 9/11, I agree with Wright: Osama bin Laden had received what amounted to carte blanche from the Taliban to operate training facilities in Afghanistan, a country we’d assisted during the Eighties by encouraging the production of opium that was being turned into heroin for the European market, a transition that had quickly propelled Afghanistan from also ran in illegal opium production into world leadership.

Since 1970, Nixon’s drug war, backed by every subsequent administration, has functioned as price support for the world’s criminal drug markets and led to the installation of corrupt governments in both drug producing and drug transporting nations. Has our drug policy been successful in either Colombia or Mexico?  Given our role in creation of the world’s illegal drug markets, just raising the subject of Burma should be painful to us, but since we don’t know the relevant history, it goes right over our head

My original interest in the drug war arose from simple curiosity: why was such a grotesque policy failure being endorsed by all the political leaders of the one nation I was (then) confident was the world’s best hope for leading the way to a sane and sustainable way of life based on fairness? What I have learned in the intervening twelve years has replaced that naive belief with the relative certainty that our species has been tragically hobbled by an evolutionary process that has left greed and fear dominant over our emotional centers and thus in control our cognition.

We can both see and feel the power of fellowship and generosity, but at the last minute, it seems, our worst instincts dominate. It’s amazing to me that simple pursuit of curiosity about the drug war should have led to what can only be understood as vindication of suspicions raised eloquently, albeit with a Victorian flair, by R. L. Stevenson in 1868.

Perhaps mid-Fifties cartoonist Walt Kelly said it best when he had one of his characters in Pogo say, “we have met the enemy and he is us.”

Doctor Tom

Posted by tjeffo at May 7, 2008 04:45 PM