My house is sixty-one years old, five years older than I am, arguably in better shape, and probably a bit more demanding. Last week's snow removal, in fact, had to be accomplished in three shifts. There are several reasons for this. Admittedly, I have a narrow front walk and a single-car driveway; but in aggregate they total something like 40 feet, and the driveway slants at enough of an angle to make standing up more of a chore than it needs to be. Mostly, though, it's because I'm getting older and can't move this stuff with any alacrity with a single shovel when the wind chill is hovering around 6. So when the job is apparently never reaching the end, and the heart rate is really starting to pick up, I sit down and wait for the moment to pass, and resume later.
I cannot do the things, physically, I once did. When I shoveled snow the other day, I thought I was going to die. For real. I hid it from my wife but the dogs were concerned. They surged around me as I sat gasping for breath. I pushed them away. I push everyone away. Even my wife and closest friends. Especially my wife and closest friends.
It's never occurred to me to buy a Harley, but I know about pushing people away. (Ask anyone who's ever been too close to me. Go ahead. It won't take you very long.) And I know about looking for context.
The night before Christmas, I wrote this:
The environmental movement, which once upon a time was concerned with endangered species and water quality and other actual issues, is now increasingly obsessed with the idea of Man as Parasite: how much nicer this old world would be if only those pesky Homo sapiens types would just hurry up and die off already.
So to me, this rings true:
What is with this idiotic notion that Nature is good and Mankind is bad? Fact is, Nature is cruel, even demonstrably vicious, and Mankind is, uh, more kind than not. That's why Mankind has prospered and proliferated. DUH. Consider this: Christianity is the biggest ever departure from Nature. Its central premise is that we all matter. Odd. Wrong? Perhaps. But absolutely right in human terms. It has led to the extension of human thought, lifespans, and a kind of beauty and accomplishment no other culture has ever dreamed of. No other kind of human philosophy has produced such sheer gorgeousness. Now we are being asked to regard ourselves as vile, a scientifically verifiable pollution on the face of the earth, something akin to the AIDS virus. The President of the United States subscribes to this view. Let me repeat that. The President of the United States subscribes to this view.
I hear Howard Beale shouting, "I'm a human being, goddammit! My life has value!" And I hear the sputtering from Washington: "Well, we'll just see about that." Yet they said Beale was mad.
We've been lulled into this delusion, I suspect, partly because we've been instructed to regard Nature as the repository of all beauty: anything we might produce ourselves must pale in comparison to the wonders of, well, just about anything that is recognized as life. (Which explains much about the abortionist; I mean, fetuses are just so icky.) And the white satin that covers the land and the driveway on so many winter nights is supposedly our punishment for insufficient reverence toward their false god.
In a world with few inescapable consequences, we bridle at the thousand tiny course corrections, the constant nudging that kept most of us on the straight and narrow path. We yawn at things that used to cause us a healthy sense of alarm. The God of today is a tolerant, undemanding, comfortable God who thinks we're all special just as we are. Appeals to our better natures are deemed too confining, moralistic, outdated. I hear conservatives talk this way every day.
"Red is grey, and yellow white, but we decide which is right, and which is an illusion." Just what the truth is, they can't say anymore.
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Copyright © 2010 by Charles G. Hill