Saturday, 15 June 2019

The Enemy Is Us

In 1813 from U.S. Navy Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry to Army General William Henry Harrison after his victory in the Battle of Lake Erie, stating, "We have met the enemy, and they are ours." The cartoonist Walt Kelly first parodied the line in 1953, although the panel we see below was done in 1971. When I first saw it, I recognised the ironic truth to the changed words: We are our own worst enemy.

Yes, at the end of the day, the cause of all our problems is ourselves. Pick any issue - global warming, abortion, elections, the environment, health care, etc. - and the trouble stems from our worldview or lack thereof. We are so ignorant; we are so unqualified for dealing with any of these issues.

I think of modern society with its cell phones, computers, and Internet looking down on ancient cultures who worshiped, for instance, the sun as a god, making sacrifices for a good harvest. We all know that there is no such thing as a sun god: Those ancient cultures were so backward, so primitive.

But are we any better? I've heard it said that the human race has made no progress over the past two thousand years. We're just as dumb as before, only now we have high-speed broadband. We proudly assert the progress made with science and technology but overlook the philosophical, the spiritual, and the moral. For the most part, we remain greedy, self-centered individuals with a disregard for the bigger picture.

Admittedly, I'm painting a depressing portrait of the world. However, let me add that while there is bad in the world, there is a lot of good. I'm hopeful. Of course, what other choice do any of us have? We have to remain hopeful for the alternative is unthinkable.

Some of the issues we're dumb about
  • Make something illegal and it will go away
    Case in point: abortion, drugs, sex work. Legislating something as a crime doesn't stop it. If human beings want it, they'll go after it, even under penalty of jail time. I contend that if we as a society truly wanted to deal with an issue, we wouldn't just use the law. After all, you can never stop a river. You can divert its flow, but you can never stop it. Don't believe me? Let's all go back Prohibition. How did that work out? (Prohibition in the United States lasted from 1920 to 1993. Wikipedia)
  • Hide the truth to make a profit
    How many people have died from smoking? The tobacco industry hide the facts as much as possible because they were making a fortune. The fossil fuel industry knew decades ago about climate change but hide the scientific analysis so they could continue making a profit at the pump. The sugar industry hide the science and diverted public attention to fat. We know now it's sugar not fat that is the bigger culprit in heart disease. Healthcare should be the right of all citizens and should be funded and overseen by the government. Unfortunately, in the United States, it's a for-profit industry which has little taste for seeing any changes which would erode their profits.
  • Religion
    What can I say in a few words about such a topic? While I agree that faith is beneficial, I find that man's interpretation of God and His Will to be the source of much evil in the world. As for the Bible — probably applicable to all religious texts, regardless the religion — pick your stance: pro-war, anti-war, pro-abortion, anti-abortion, pro-slavery, anti-slavery. The Bible will furnish you with a passage to support anything and everything. Years ago (Sorry, I've hunted on the Net, but I can't find this.), I read about a sect in the States (West Virginia?) which had banned all music based on an obscure passage in Timothy. Yes, banned all music. Whenever I hear somebody use a biblical passage to explain or justify their position, I know they have first formulated their position, then gone to the Bible to find whatever will support said position. In other words, they have not carefully weighed the pros and cons, examined other options, etc. They've started with their conclusion and then backed up to find supporting arguments.

Final Word
We may start with the best intentions, but we sometimes screw up royally. We can blame other people, faulty ingredients, bad supplies, or even the weather including sunspots, but we did it so we're to blame. During prohibition, bootleggers turned to denatured (poisonous) alcohol as a source of product. Attempts to renature (make non-poisonous) were not always successful. It's reported that upwards of ten thousand people died from drinking bad alcohol. Oops. The enemy is us.

Update: 2021-10-04
It was the worst of times; it was the best of times. How about a pandemic to test our mettle?
my blog: Masks: How We Hate Change 2021-09-28


Wikipedia: Pogo (comic strip)
Pogo is the title and central character of a long-running daily American comic strip, created by cartoonist Walt Kelly (1913–1973) and distributed by the Post-Hall Syndicate. Set in the Okefenokee Swamp of the southeastern United States, the strip often engaged in social and political satire through the adventures of its anthropomorphic funny animal characters.

Wikipedia: Walt Kelly
Walter Crawford Kelly, Jr. (1913–1973), commonly known as Walt Kelly, was an American animator and cartoonist, best known for the comic strip Pogo. He began his animation career in 1936 at Walt Disney Studios, contributing to Pinocchio, Fantasia, and Dumbo. In 1941, at the age of 28, Kelly transferred to work at Dell Comics, where he created Pogo, which eventually became his platform for political and philosophical commentary.

Snopes: Did the U.S. Government Purposely Poison 10,000 Americans During Prohibition? - May 12/2017

Wikipedia: Prohibition in the United States

Erin Brockovich
In this 2000 biographical film, the heroine has discovered that PG&E has contaminated the groundwater of Hinkley, California, leading to sickness and death among the townsfolk. The corporation attempts to solve their problem by throwing money at it: out of sight, out of mind. In this two-minute clip, the magnitude of the issue is brought home to PG&E: It's not a problem if it's not my problem. I don't care about the faceless individuals who may be inadvertently affected by my business practices.

Published on Jun 1, 2011 by MovieClips
YouTube: A Lame-Ass Offer - Erin Brockovich (6/10) Movie CLIP (2000) HD (2:00)


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