Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Observations in December

This morning in the entrance of the tunnel that passes beneath Xuanwu Lake, the tunnel the bus takes from my apartment to the college where I work, the bus came to a sudden halt. I peered, like my Chinese colleagues, out the window to see.

In the entrance to the tunnel lay a small, white dog. His fur was blindingly white like newly fallen snow. It looked soft like cotton bursting from its pod. A halo of crimson gore spread out around its head and neck. The back legs and tail still struggled frantically for life, but somehow I doubt it has much chance. So much blood and guts could not be anything but fatal, I think.

I wonder, sometimes, about the idea of progress. Societal progress, economic progress, political progress, scientific progress, etc. Is there really such a thing as progress? We have an idea that humanity has undergone a long road up. Stone begets bronze, bronze begets iron, iron begets steel. Stronger, more flexible substances are born from our ancestors. Our genes, we feel, are much the same. Survival of the fittest... without regard for the fact that often the most sadistic, inhuman of humans are the ones who successfully conceive the most children. In exempla: most of us living today contain the royal blood of hundreds of various dynasties ranging throughout the epochs of human existence. This is because royals most commonly used their 'noblesse oblige' to rape and pollinate their serving wenches, and really anyone else they wished to. And what characteristics allowed such people their positions? A demonstrated capability for ruthlessness. Thus, we bear within ourselves a rather un-progressive genetic trait for selfish, cruel striving.

Economic progress is equally deceiving. What is the basis for increased money supply to fill the hordes of the wealthy and the pittances of the wage-earners? The basis must be the energy supplies (mostly mineral), construction supplies (mostly mineral), and food supplies (again, derived from the forbearance of the earth. Even many supplies of water (used in industry, and not just the creation of various commercial beverages) are 'fossil' reserves that cannot be replenished within hundreds or even thousands of years. So where is our economic progress? In reality, any growth is only a growth in our ability to siphon off a vast bank account prepared eons before any of our species walked the earth. Unless some sci-fi miracle occurs--capability to fabricate any kind of matter or energy from any other kind of matter or energy--I don't really see 'growth'. I just see a hastening to the endgame.

I don't point this out to be pessimistic or negative. I just think that people should admit whose hide their pay check or stock investments is coming out of. In the end, our species will have to find ways of either bending matter and energy completely to our will, or harvesting additional bank accounts (planets, star systems) in order to keep this system going. Will we become spontaneous creators, or gradual destroyers? I have no idea. The seeds of both possible mutations are contained in contemporary society.

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