American Samizdat

Friday, September 19, 2008. *
Recently, many very smart people became very scared about the start-up of the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland. They're afraid that the collider's activities will cause the creation of a black hole and, well, bye-bye Earth. The machine has been on-line for a short while now; no black hole yet. Maybe later.

I am certainly not either a quantum physicist or an astronomer. But I think it goes like this: as a star dies, it collapses in on itself, creating a mass with such enormous gravity as to suck in everything near it, including light. Scary, I agree. Instead of worrying about the LHC's potential for such an event, however, we would do well to turn our concern to an existing vortex - American presidential and other national-level politics.

In graduate school, the most fascinating course I took was in systems theory. The first rule of systems is "people do not change entrenched social systems, such systems change people". Learning that rule was a major "ah Ha! moment".

Black holes, voracious buggers that they are, consume even smaller suns and solar systems. Burning up the fuel of final-stage liberal capitalism, the once-shining star of American democracy is imploding, taking everything with it into an abyss from which nothing - not even light itself - can emerge. Society, ecology, economy, culture, law, truth, peace, charity, love, eventually, perhaps, the Earth itself, all of it crushed into a lightless, tiny, but infinitely dense rock.

It would be a futile exercise in redundancy to catalog either the symptoms or the power of this maelstrom. Entertaining the notions that the thing is the sum of its parts and that by applying correct solutions to each part the whole beast will be tamed is, in a word, insane. You either fully comprehend that or you don't. If you're still standing inside the tornado, trying to calm it by fixing the debris as it flies past, you might as well stay in Oz. Kansas is gone.

It does no good to point the arthritic finger of blame, either. You don't heal a broken back by suing the SOB who ran over you. We can indict the neocons, the Illuminati, the Bilderbergs, the Trilateral Commission, the Republicans, Big Oil, ad infinitum, until we're breathless with righteous indignation. Our accusations, right or wrong, are quickly subsumed. Being right is not necessarily being helpful.

If one understands this, some small solace may be derived from this: whoever or whatever seeded the storm will themselves not survive it. Accumulation of vast wealth and power is a penknife against a blind, pissed-off rhino. They are as much victims as the rest of us, obese, panicked camels looking for needle-eyes to squeeze through.

I don't believe Jesus Christ was g*d. It's a non-starter, as they say. I do, however, regard him as one cool dude, an interesting and somewhat eccentric cat who had some sound and simple ideas and a big heart, who was human enough to get co-opted by Karl Rove's ancestors. A majority of the words attributed to him in the bible were probably made up. But some of his wisdom has survived intact, if only to shore up the credibility of the rest of the christianitous propaganda.

I'm fond of the Beatitudes. Not commandments, but simple suggestions as to how to act. "The meek shall inherit the earth." I think that, strategically, the punchline was edited out - "But there won't be very much left of it". Jesus' simplest and most powerful entreaty has been drowned out by the awful howling of this cosmic tsunami . . . "love one another".

It is in those three words that the solution's foundation lies. And it is this solution that most will continue to reject. Too simplistic. Too religious. Too unattainable. Too "New Age". Unrealistic. Passive.

Passive!? Just the opposite. Love is neither thought nor feeling. It is action. Effective action which takes the other into account, which values equally other and self. Action which raises the odds of self-survival by recognizing that one cannot survive alone.

Here is a list of actions to take to escape the black hole . . .
  • Get real. Stop raging against the truth. Stop protesting. It's both worse and later than you think. Accept that; embrace it.
  • Stand aside. You can stand in front of a semi doing eighty and will it to stop (squash) or you can get out of the way (whew!). Take shelter.
  • Stop digging. If you've dug a hole that's now deeper than you are tall, further down is decidedly the wrong direction.
  • Get small. Get local. If you must be political, do it locally. Or make your own politics and government and laws (but obey the established ones, of course - anarchy is counterproductive). By all means, do this quietly, unobtrusively. Attract, don't promote. Be interested in saving yourselves and others, rather than changing someone or something else. You will be the war you create or the peace you create.
  • Cultivate responsibility. Stop buying stuff you don't need. As you consume, the black hole consumes you. Weaken the beast, don't feed the damned thing.
  • Reject nihilism. The temptation is to say, "It doesn't really matter what we do, so party party". Sorry, Bubbah, but the party's over. The horrific pain will overcome whatever sedative you use.
  • Tread lightly. Easy does it, as they say.
  • Protect yourself. There is safety in numbers - small ones. Consensus is more difficult to achieve on a large scale.
  • Be at peace.

We will not calm the storm nor plug the hole. We can, however, get out of the way.

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originally posted at P!
posted by Unknown at 9:40 AM
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