Opinion/Editorial

A THICKENING STORM

The distant horizon, when viewable, is a place that attracts all human eyes. What is it that humanity is drawn to out there, or over there, in the distance? The future.

Mankind looks out at every opportunity for what is coming next, for what can be predicted from what can be seen in the distance. If the sun is rising against beautiful clouds and the sea is lapping calm (if there is a sea) the expression ‘red sky in the morning, sailor take warning can be put aside, at least from vestigial fears all humans possess regarding the grandly uncontrollable and only recently (and marginally) predictability of weather. Red skies in the morning tend to indicate that a high pressure area (generally, good weather) up in the atmosphere has passed and a low pressure front will follow. Although this expression comes out of old nautical lore it has some real importance to modern sailors, it can also serve as a metaphorical expression about all of life. We are always on the look out for storms in the distance likely to impact our lives. We are not really looking for good weather. When good weather prevails almost all humans merely accept such conditions as being the way things are supposed to be, or ‘money in the bank.’

Real life, however, is filled with storms; some rise up seemingly out of nowhere, and some are easy to see coming. The advent of television changed everything, daily news allowed everyone who possessed such a machine (about sixty per cent of the world’s population) to better predict things that may be coming, things that some might define as ‘storms.’ It was enlightening to be on the Hawaiian Island of Kauai when the giant earthquake, and the following huge tsunami, struck the coast of Japan. At one o’clock in the morning (Hawaiian time) Kauai residents could watch the waves strike and inundate huge swathes of land along the coast of Japan. Television allowed for plenty of warning (five hours) for the people on Kauai to get ready for the ‘storm’ to hit. Many times it is not the knowledge that storms are out there on the horizon, and approaching soon, that define humans. It is how humans react. And there is little ability to predict that. Humans do have predetermined group responses to threats. All threats are viewed by individual humans as threats to them personally. Therefore, with the varying levels of intellectual ability and types of life experience, the variety of human reactions can be staggering.

On that early morning of February 16th in 2015, while it was still dark on the island, some people got hold of flashlights, went down to the beaches of Kauai, and set up camp to watch the tsunami come in. There were so many people on the beach with lights that other people up on top floors of nearby hotels could clearly see the ocean, and watch the coming spectacle. Other people reacted to the television reports by foregoing their hotel rooms and climbed up nearby mountain sides in the rain and mud. These reactions to the television warnings were diametrically opposed. After the tsunami, when members of both groups were interviewed they all said the same thing about one another. The sand people thought the mud climbers were idiots because the tsunami, when it struck Kauai, came in at only a foot and a half in height. The mud climbers thought the sand people were absolutely nuts for taking such a mortal risk because what if the tsunami had been bigger. The people in the hotel rooms, most out on their balconies remained relatively indifferent to the whole thing. The manager of one hotel even put cots in the halls of the higher stories in his hotel for guests to sleep through the event, as the lower stories had been wisely evacuated. Like anyone could sleep with the images of huge tsunami waves striking and killing in Japan, and potentially on their way to Kauai!

The extreme variance in people’s response to storm warnings on the horizon, or real indications of coming dire circumstance, helps explain the sometimes inexplicable group responses to such things as war and selection of leadership (politics). Although human response to the potential of coming danger is intensely personal, the grouping of similar responses is not. If a buffalo herd starts heading over the edge of a precipice, the buffalos in the center of the herd go right along with the decisions made by the animals leading the herd. They only find out that they might have made a mistake when they are on the way down to the canyon floor below. Humans respond in almost exactly the same way to television ‘news.’ It took newscasters, and the general public, almost fifty years to recognize what a powerful influence the “news” could have by shaping its content to guide public response. This tool has resulted in the extreme dissatisfaction so many people feel toward government, and what are seen as invisibly powerful leaders of our times. In the coming election the real example of glaring contempt the mass media has exhibited toward a watching public is exemplified by the continued presence of the republican candidate in this campaign. Just twenty years ago, or less, a complete buffoon would never have been allowed to be considered for acceptance to such a hugely powerful position by the media, yet he is not only startlingly there in every news cycle, he is argued to be some sort of rationally irrational alternative to the other obviously qualified candidate.

The rage of today is one of disappointing discovery, and that is the discovery of how vastly different the created phenomenal world is from reality. It has taken time for this ephemeral-seeming rage to build, as injustice is constantly painted to be justice, lies as the truth, and evil corruption the as best balm of social healing available. The republican candidate has not only been allowed to be proclaimed as somehow ‘normal’ and acceptable by the mass media, his existence as the head of that party is a direct and revealing response to the giant avalanche of truth the public is coming to demand from the social order itself. The vastly unfair treatment of today’s workers (who used to be referred to as the middle class), the ever-escalating inequity of a very few coming to own almost everything, and the common man having lost any ability to have a voice or be truly represented, are all roiling clouds that can be seen on our culture’s morning horizon. Those clouds are red and all American’s should take warning. This thickening storm is not only growing in size each and every day, it is moving slowly toward the shores of this country. Recognizing that it is there will either result in the greatest battle in history, or lead the current social order to violently change as this storm crashes down, morphing it into something more resembling the dark ages than the modern civilization everyone has come to know and accept as the way life is supposed to be. Reality, no matter how portrayed, moves from order to disorder without humanity’s intercession and manipulation. One of the critical events that will soundly influence our coming human history is about to happen in November. The public is being asked to make a decision, but it is not a decision between candidates nearly so much as it is a decision about the choice between order and disorder, moving into the future or stumbling back to past.

~ James Strauss

Feature photo from: Red Sky In The Morning by Steven JT Wilson

How do You Cope with Impending Danger?

Arrow Down

Sign up for Updates