“It’s the end of the world as we know it,” REM’s Michael Stipe sings in the eponymous song, “and I feel fine.”
It’s an old song, but it’s also a kind of philosophy problem. One could argue that each day, good or bad, is the end of the world as we know it. Nothing is ever really the same as it was a moment ago, particularly from the point of view of subatomic particles.
But, the subatomic particle argues, it’s all matter and energy to me—the more things change, the more they stay the same.
How, then, should we view the recent study from the Center for Economic and Policy Research that unemployment is vastly worse than is routinely reported and that, from an objective viewpoint, we’re mired in the most prolonged bout of unemployment since the Great Depression?
The study’s analysis is nothing shocking. Few Americans would be surprised to learn that the government pads numbers or that the truth may be even uglier than the very ugly front page would have one believe. After all, we appear to be coming apart at the seams.
As a fan of Barack Obama—not the radicalized president of both far-left and far-right dreams, but the real, centrist, pragmatic Barack Obama—I’ve hit my first big stumbling block with his administration. The recent media lockdowns on the Deepwater Horizon disaster and the war in Afghanistan are unconscionable and unconstitutional. My anger isn’t that of a frustrated journalist, but that of a frustrated information consumer. It’s the sense that whatever has passed for freedom in our democratic republic in the past couple of hundred years is being irrevocably eroded toward a single, concrete bottom line.
Here, in Santa Fe, it feels like the glaze of happy-go-lucky consumerism has been scoured from our eyeballs, and we are suddenly in a bad, bad mood.
It has become officially difficult to keep up with the wave of shootings that has swept the region. I mean, shootouts at a campground, murders at a trailhead, an afternoon killing at a mall bus stop, a father/son murder/suicide, a bear killed at a scout camp—it all starts to get a little mixed up. Are we going crazy? If so, is it because of the economy? War? Natural disasters? Unnatural disasters? Unethical politicians?
The world sucks, but does it suck more recently, or has it always sucked?
We could ask Andrew Basiago. Anti-Wi-Fi activist, UFO researcher and food entrepreneur Richard Dean Jacob recently forwarded
about Basiago being an original “chrononaut” for the US government. According to Basiago, the government mastered teleportation and time travel way back in the 1960s. He and others were bounced around the space-time continuum to all the places anyone would go if they could teleport: El Segundo, Mars and New Mexico. In response, The Santa Fe New Mexican’s Steve Terrell gently
Basiago’s claims, and Basiago immediately commented, asserting the veracity of his experiences as a chrononaut.
New Mexico was a hot teleportation and time travel destination because of its long history of inhabitants, who might be called upon to assist wayward space-time travelers. Unfortunately, Basiago is relatively mum on whether or not the state’s early inhabitants were as generally agitated as the current populace.
Sadly, the mere fact that Fidel Castro has lived so long casts doubt on the government’s secret ability to teleport. But Basiago’s terrifically manic story does point to a shared, subconscious need to feel that the world sucks because someone, somewhere, with more power and control than us, screwed everything up. No one wants to feel like it’s hard for us to have meaningful communities and responsible governments because we’re greedy, lazy, ignorant oafs. We’d rather just shoot someone.
That we’re so utterly inured to violence points further to our status as a lost cause. We’re a cosmic petri dish of humanoid fools, more interested in violence than solutions, more interested in conspiracy than reality, but never interested in anything at all for very long. Somewhere, that great big lab technician in the sky is looking at our dish and shaking his head.
More likely, this planet is the same inexorable ball of chaos that it’s always been. There are so many factors at work that the same situation—a catastrophic oil spill or a series of shootings—can seem completely random when viewed from one angle and carefully planned when viewed from another. There’s meaning enough for everyone who wants it, but also no such thing as peak nihilism. But somewhere between being paralyzed by a crushed economy or dark alien overlords and waking up with so little to care about that shooting someone seems reasonable, is a place where we might just be able to remember ourselves. There are lots of ways to be victims, but only one way to take control of one’s own life.
In other words, everyone can teleport and time travel—it’s just not as fast as on TV.
the end of the world as we know it. But tomorrow will be, too, and I feel fine.
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