All the World’s a Candle and We are the Match

Yesterday, I decided I would take a break from posting on this blog. Just a few days. Long enough to relax and unwind from the nonstop stress of living in the ugly age of social media and mental meltdowns. Yet here I am, posting again. I can’t even keep a promise to myself; why should I expect others’ promises to me to be kept? And therein resides the problem. We’re all lying to ourselves about what matters. We’re insisting that our problems can be solved through the introduction of mechanical fixes to fundamentally flawed social structures. We say to ourselves, “let’s adopt rules saying no more choke-holds by police,” or “let’s all take a knee to show our support for equality and justice,” or “let’s disregard advice to wear masks and practice social distancing because the rules are being shoved down our throats simply to exercise control over our lives.” We’re lying to ourselves through raw superficiality and nonsensical paranoia. And we’re allowing others to lie to us with impunity. Rather than seeking the truth, we’re almost randomly selecting what falsehoods to believe from a  litany of lies.

Reality is an ugly, pus-laden sore covering the planet. Global pandemic. Systemic racism. Poverty on a scale beyond comprehension. Income inequality. Political animosity. Savagery. Rabid nationalism. The prospect of economic collapse. Religious wars. Mass psychosis. Amorality as a global personal philosophy.

Rules prohibiting choke-holds amount to band-aids made of single-layer toilet tissue, stuff that dissolves at the slightest hint of distant rain. Supporting justice and equality by taking a knee is akin to equipping soldiers launching the Normandy invasion with water pistols and spit-balls. Equating medical advice with propaganda is evidence of severe, incurable, mental illness.  We are in trouble. Deep trouble. We’re mired in explosive, gasoline-drenched quicksand, the nearest firm ground a thousand miles distant, beyond the forest fires that encircle us. Taking a knee doesn’t help in this hellish place. Banning choke-holds cannot quench the fires. Believing the flames are holograms will not save flesh from third-degree burns.

The United States is in large part responsible for the problems that threaten the planet and the people on it, thanks to the current vacuum in leadership (exacerbated by filling the void with toxic immorality and greed) and thanks to several generations shirking their responsibilities and passing them on to future generations. But the United States is no longer in a position to solve the world’s problems, alone. In fact, if the world’s problems are to be solved, that may take place in spite of the United States, especially under current “leadership.”

If I could snap my fingers to make things happen, I would convene an emergency meeting of select world leaders with the explicit objectives of; 1) identifying the most pressing, most dangerous problems confronting societies around the globe; 2) articulating humanity’s responsibilities for confronting and correcting them; and 3) calling on the people of the planet to collectively commit to working together to act accordingly. The world leaders would necessarily include leaders of several industrialized nations but also leaders of the poorest and least developed ones. Every segment of humanity should be represented. And, once the messages have been crafted, the leaders should commit to a single message that would be distributed through all available media at the same time.  And repeated several times. Over and over and over again. The seriousness of the issue would necessarily be stressed; as in, “This is our final chance to do the right thing; if we don’t act with compassion for one another and with deliberate speed, humanity will be lost. All of us must commit to repairing the damage done, whether intentionally or not, by a thousand generations.”

Leadership. That’s what it would take. And charisma. But not just one person. It would take a field of charismatic leaders of all colors, sexes, political perspectives, etc., etc.

It will not happen. It’s too much to hope for. But if I could snap my fingers, we would stop pretending our impotent little shows of “commitment” will do anything of consequence. We would come to the realization that only by retrieving our collective humanity can we hope to emerge from the burning quicksand. Fire-retardant suits are no match for the flames.


About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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