Thursday, May 07, 2009
in which she worries about the future
last night, we got home from playing cards with friends and started flipping through channels, as one does. we landed on an episode of law & order: SVU which featured a former IRA terrorist who had gone mercenary and was working for columbian drug lords since he was trained to kill and there wasn't so much killing to do anymore in ireland. so, very uplifting, as you might imagine, but a notch above the documentary on schools in germany which were training little super nazis in the years leading up to and during WWII that was on DR2. during the commercials, husband was flipping to BBC world, where they were talking about years of strife in the congo on hardtalk. reminders of mubuto sese seko and laurent kabila and now his son flashed across the screen. why didn't i just walk away and curl up with mma ramotswe, you ask?
i sat watching these programs and i began to get a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. i was glad sabin had fallen asleep and wasn't watching that kind of stuff. and the sick feeling in the pit of my stomach was for her sake. because sometimes i it makes me really ill to imagine the world she will inherit. what are we doing to our planet and ourselves? and are we just sitting here, letting it happen, as we watch it all unfold on t.v.?
there was a news recap on BBC during one of the breaks and they very dramatically and with a tone of indignation reported that russia had kicked out a couple of canadian diplomats from NATO offices in moscow. of course they did, that kind of thing happens all the time and the dudes were probably spies. which, if the editor choosing that story and the angle for that story had the slightest modicum of historical knowledge, would have been obvious. and then they would have realized it was actually really rather a non-story.
and this caused me to think of an article in information the other day about how few danish politicians (20%) think that studying the humanities (including history) is important. maybe i'm a bit touchier about this than most because i actually have a master's degree in humanities, but i think it's important to mankind's ability to sort out the world around us and make the right decisions. decisions of all kinds--but especially decisions relating to governing and how we treat one another and the planet (which cannot be done without governments cooperating). but we can't negotiate the waters as is necessary if we have no historical, sociological, cultural knowledge/background--all of which come from the humanities. it's good for us to read the classics and the so-called great books. it equips us with the necessary tools to think about things and sort them out and analyze and make good decisions. even editorial decisions like about whether it's a big deal or not that russia kicks out a couple of canadian diplomats.
and i worry that the world that sabin is inheriting isn't going to have people who are able to do that. i mean, if it's this bad now, how much worse will it get? where are the great thinkers today? the great ideas? the great philosophers? the great writers? as much as i respect and even like a guy like thomas friedman, who is arguably a public intellectual on the scene today, he's no kirkegaard. where are the people of that caliber today? where is today's dostoevsky? or voltaire? or byron? or thomas jefferson? where are the great men and women? instead we've got britain's got talent and madonna trying to adopt a kid in malawi and some asshole reporter asking some stupid football player what he thinks about climate change. we're asking all of the wrong people the wrong questions.
i want to shelter sabin from it, to keep that balloon before her face--so that what she knows is joy and laughter and all of the colorfulness there is in the world. but i know that balloon will rise and she'll have to face the mess we've left her with. and that just makes me feel sick to my stomach.
sorry for this uncharacteristically somber post, it's been grey and dreary all week and the world just gets me down sometimes.