A Brief History of the World, Winston Smith edition

First, according to astrophysicists, there was nothing. Nada. Zilch. Tabula rasa. Then that nothingness somehow exploded. Can you say big bang? Congratulations! To, uh, whatever produced the big bang, as it gave birth to what is referred to as the universe. According to scientific investigation, that was approximately 13.8 billion years ago. Then, around 13 billion years ago, the first stars begin to burn, their glow taking its sweet time to reach…well “us”; but let’s not get too far ahead here since “us” at this point in the life of the universe is still WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY off.

Moving on, about 4.6 billion years ago our solar system begins to come together and with it the birth our life-sustaining sun. Earth is about 4.5 billion years old, and thus one of the charter members of our universe, which early on had no stars or planets. Stars were forged from atoms of hydrogen and helium, while new chemical elements were created inside the dying stars (birth and death, it’s inescapable, eh?). Planets and moons formed from blobs of ice and dust using these new chemicals and elements, and the first living cell evolved in the rich chemical environments of rocky planets.

Then, 3.8 billion years ago, comes the earliest forms of life on our very special planet we call Earth. These were mostly single cell life forms. Not too sophisticated but, hey, back then they were the entire show. And that “show” was a long-running production, with virtually zero competition for attention for the next 3.2 billion years. Okay, so let’s do the math: 3.2 billion from 3.8 billion=600 million , as in years ago, larger life forms appear. Those bigger living things had the stage for a mere 593 million (or so) years, when ‘only” 7 million years back our human lineage splits from that of the Chimpanzee. That “break-away” from the chimp world, over the next 5 million years, produced the–ta da!–homo erectus. This new “standing man” then becomes the species known as Homo sapiens, a classification that is marked at about at 200,000 years ago. Hey, from Big Bang to standing man. In a mere 4 billion, 599 million, 999.8 thousand years.

Or, in just three paragraphs on this blog entry.

A brief history, okay?

Standing man hasn’t always had it easy, though. Life was rough and tumble. Maslow’s pyramid of ascending needs would have to have several sub-basements to signify the ordeal of simply staying alive back in that day. Today’s homeless population live elite lifestyles compared to Homo neanderthalensis. Basic food and shelter? Life was always a bitch, no doubt. And then , as already noted, they would die. But enough of standing man got off his/her feet to copulate and Homo sapiens endured, right through the last ICE AGE, some 10,000 years ago. After that frosty kick in the loin cloth-covered asses of our species by the forces of nature, it was but 5,000 years ago that cities began to appear on the planet. 3,000 years later, standing man had developed its survival instincts and desire to be the masters of their–and other’s–domains, with the Han and Roman empires. Little by little, by about 500 years ago, exploration and discovery by our species started to link the world together. For better or worse. Mostly worse, in my estimation.

Formal knowledge, the refinement of arts and sciences, elevated our human place on planet earth. In the past 150 years industrialization has given us railroads, jet airplanes, radio and television and space travel. Just 50 years ago we landed on the moon, an event that for a brief moment in time, was at once inspirational and mesmerizing in its realization, and as such, transcended race, ethnicity, or nationality in a most powerful and positive sense of shared pride in our humanity. And it was quite a momentary antidote to a world in which over the previous 200 or so years having been marred by revolutionary wars here and abroad, the U.S.civil war, World Wars I & II, (the latter of which produced an another awesome, if not a Kumbaya, event called the creation–and deployment–of the atomic bomb), the Korean and Vietnam wars, and at this point in time bloodshed far and wide. More empires. Less humanism.

Now, here we are early in the first month of year 2019. Unless you are one of the Homo sapiens that has succumbed to a de-evolutionary modus operandi, and cannot think on your own, unable to truly engage your brain, not able to determine basic right from wrong, nor distinguish a stone cold fact from an inference to a bald face lie, you might have heard about, and perhaps become concerned for our planet, all 4.6 billion years old as it is. What am I getting at? Well, while the Big Bang theory says we came from nothing, (go figure) ever since, and as been alluded to earlier, all forms of life on this planet come and go. You know, born to die. In comparison to mother earth, we are all around for a nano second of a wee smaller nanosecond of a fraction of a fraction of a blink of an eye. Hope to live to be 110? No different. By the time you were born to your demise, you (all of us, okay?) relatively speaking were barely here at all! But reproduction keeps humankind around, whether one is using that brain very well or not. Among the scientists whom are most involved with the life span of our planet–which, mind you, is inevitably as with all else, going to die–they assert we have reached an “existential crisis”. It’s called climate change. And the virtual consensus of climate scientists is that our planet is sick. Very sick. Human activity is hastening our planet’s demise–and standing man and woman will eventually pass away when the sphere beneath our feet no longer can support itself, or us.

What are we humans doing about this crisis? Apparently not much. Certainly not nearly enough. In the decade that ran from 1979-1989 we had an excellent opportunity to solve this climate crisis. The world’s major powers came within several signatures of endorsing a binding, global framework to reduce carbon emissions–far closer than we have ever come since. During those years, the conditions for success could not have been more favorable. The obstacles we blame for that inaction are still emerging. But now, as back then, the only thing standing in the way of saving the planet is…ourselves.

And by ourselves, I include a particular person who is an avowed science-denier when it comes to looming climate collapse: this person is deeply, profoundly flawed. Okay, nobody is perfect but…this person is a sociopath. This person is a racist. Indeed, he is a white supremacist. He is a misogynist. A homophobe. A xenophobe. A failed businessman. A con man. As bad as all that is, the worst part is he has been allowed to be the President of our country. Oh, and one who evidently colluded with Mother Russia and its evil strongman, V. Putin, during his campaign. This man is not helping with much except to create chaos and consternation amongst critical thinkers. Sadly, this person has followers. I call them “pod people” (after the people in Invasion of the Body Snatchers whose beings are overtaken by insidious pods being slipped near them as they slumbered, to awake and become zombie like automatons in the grip of alien forces). Today’s Pod People have brains, but they are a waste of gray matter. Podsters don’t seem to care about anything but what their “leader” thinks and does. But more than any creepy flaw he has clearly displayed, it’s that science-denying one that is the most dangerous here, in 2019.

Sadly, in my informed, personal opinion, it may be 2019, but I’m beginning to feel as though it is really 1984. As in the dystopian world penned by George Orwell in 1949, shortly after the carnage of World War II. In it, Orwell created Big Brother. A glossary of terms from that seminal novel would include, doublethink, hate week, newspeak, speakwrite, thought police, and thoughtcrime. Doesn’t sound like a Disney narrative, eh?Now, I am not saying we are actually immersed in Orwell’s nightmare vision of the future, as he saw it back in 1949, but there are indications that, since our current occupant of the White House took residence there in January of 2017, it certainly sounds and seems as though we are getting closer to an Orwellian nightmare than safely secured from any such approximation of it.

For example, a few nights ago, the corporate, mainstream media once again demonstrated its collusion in this country’s ever-increasing descent into creepy, dark political cynicism. How so? By granting a prominent platform for the dissemination of blatant propaganda and fear mongering by the above alluded to White House denizen.

The various major media outlets, both broadcast and cable, were asked to permit this person, who has been clearly and credibly identified as a bona-fide, dissembling demagogue to speak to we the people. The heads of these news outlets could not possibly have acted any more irresponsibly by agreeing to provide prime-time coverage for this person and his intended reason for seeking their assistance. After all, he was not addressing the vital–and ever more desperate–need for climate action. Of course not. He, at best, willfully denies the reality of climate change, or actually is unable to process the credible evidence that has been around for-as noted–several decades by now. He wasn’t talking about making healthcare more affordable for all of we the people, nor was he addressing the need for more affordable means of getting a college education. He wasn’t announcing a plan to address re-building our rotting national infrastructure, or creating a living wage policy to help the average person make ends meet without working two or more jobs.

No, he was give the national airwaves to potentially enter into the living rooms–Little Brother?–of every household, to demand several billion dollars for a “wall” to separate the U.S. from its neighboring countries to the south. He claimed–without evidence– that the border is not secure, and that those coming here included rapists, murderers, drug dealers and terrorists. All while our federal government has been shut down for almost three weeks as a means of showing he means business.

The Orwellian part of his being on the airwaves so pervasively is that there was no obligation on the part of the media to grant him time to spew his nonsense, all of which is at the expense of that evidence-based existential crisis known as the climate crisis that increasingly threatens our planet. The heads of each of those major media outlets could have easily declared his request as being so blatantly a political stunt that they could not possibly be so irresponsible as to let him have the airwaves to advance its unworthiness. The fact that they didn’t is extremely disturbing.

Orwell’s book, by the way, has become something of a new best seller in the past couple of years. Art imitates life? Ugh. Well, we’re not that far gone yet, but the media created this orange-hued occupant of the White House, and it could destroy him just as easily. We don’t have to listen to him even if the media continues to provide a platform for further prevarication, division and hate speech. But we shouldn’t have to willfully ignore what should never have been allowed to become a reality in the first place. What happened on Tuesday evening was a dangerous symptom of incipient Orwellianism, in my estimation.

After 4.6 billion years, here we are, my fellow Homo sapiens. We are the problem. Of course we are. We must have asked for this or else why has it become a reality? When did basic right and wrong become so jumbled in so many people’s minds? How can we be so easily led astray? Who and what are we paying attention to? So, as mother earth continues to wheeze and convulse, the clock is ticking. You can take time out for a break, but you can’t take a break from time, right? I’d say, time to take a break from taking break from thinking about the present and the future. You can change the dial, or turn off that tv, leave cyberspace and connect with reality. I mean, can’t we do better than this? This is what we have evolved into since leaving ChimpWorld?

4.6 billion years from nothing to the moon and back. And it was televised! Now, our media has become a tool for misinformation, disinformation, insipid celebrity cults, bread and circuses. It is everywhere and nowhere. Newspeak. Doublethink. Hate week. Thoughtcrime. Far fetched? Let’s hope so. But sometimes, lately, I feel a bit like Orwell’s protagonist, Winston Smith in 1984. But I’m hoping for a happier ending than Winston’s. 

If your brain is critically engaged and your eyes wide open, I’d say you–as I–are all insipiently becoming Mr.Smith.

 

About jharrin4

mass communication/speech instructor at College of DuPage and Triton College in suburban Chicago. Army veteran of the Viet Nam era.
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1 Response to A Brief History of the World, Winston Smith edition

  1. Let me catch my breath — this says it all!

    Like

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