Now What?

Brian surprised me, a few days before the election, when he told me he was concerned about what would happen to the blog after the election: what would we write about? And would anyone want to read it?

I realize now he had a good point, but he still threw me for a loop: it hadn't occurred to me that anything would change. Yes, I'm dumb. :-) But also, it never occurred to me that there would be major changes or "nothing to talk about" after the election.

It has me wondering, today, less than 48 hours after we all went to the polls and began a new chapter of American history, how many people will wander back into the woods? How many people will say, "deed done, task completed," and go to sleep until -- the next election? Or longer? Until the next time the country gets so out of control that it's hurting us all every day, like it is right now?

I hope not.

Remember those apes from 2001: A Space Odyssey? They were brute creatures living short, painful, fear-fraught lives until "the obelisk" came along. Looking into the obelisk, they saw the possible. They saw the prospect of safety and comfort. They could imagine a better future. And that was the seed that grew into accomplishing it. But it was not accomplishment itself. Nor were they safe and comfortable the moment one ape picked up a bone and used it as a tool. These are just steps along the way.

When I look out the world, I see a bunch of apes (no offense). We're a bunch of very clever, mostly well-meaning, mostly hairless apes with fabulous social skills that have allowed us to organize ourselves and provide ourselves with advantages we could never attain individually, on our respective owns. But we're still caught up in old ways of thinking: we have a primitive desire to praise and appease an alpha male; we hold grudges even when doing so hurts us, like bottom-feeding baboons; and when our young men get together in large groups, they form gangs that rape and murder and destroy with as much gleeful amorality as any band of young chimpanzees rampaging through the jungle. This is nothing nearly so noble as what mankind can be.

We factionalize: we believe my nation is the best nation! my religion is the right religion! my race is the superior race! But we are all the same, all as prejudiced as any others, and all as capable of transcending those biases and prejudices.

And that's the amazing thing about the human animal, the thing that must be admired: we are not good! We just have the ability to be good, if we want to be, if we can imagine it, if we can work at it, if we can follow it through -- and especially, and this is the most important part -- if we can program our children to do the same, because we will die, and take everything we've learned with us when we go. The survivors of World War I couldn't imagine people being so foolish as to wage another war after a generation of Europeans was lost in their Great War. But it didn't take long before there was another, and a "I" had to be affixed to the "War to End All Wars." Human memory is short. Human children are dumb monkeys. Human leaders are big brute gorillas.

Are we done? Hell no. We've got a ton of work to do. We must evolve. We must progress. We gotta get on this.

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