Giant Spermocidal Sponge

on Mar 06 in Flotsum & Jetsam by

Ever get into one of those theoretical arguments that boils down to whether or not to give a shit about anything? My friends, Jay and James and I did the other night at a lovely, low key dinner at our house. It started with which cause — global climate change or race relations in the world — we stood a better chance of affecting in a positive way, and therefore, ought to put our energies toward.

Although I don’t know if he’d approve of me blabbing it all over the place, the next day, after reading about the Branson/Gore idea of rewarding the best idea to save the climate with a big cash prize, Jay wrote:

“Don’t tell anyone, but I’ve got an idea to win this 25 mill. It involves a really big spermicidal sponge, about the size of antartica. You help me “remove” the penguins, and I’ll cut you in for 10 percent.”

To which I responded: “Love the idea! How about we put it in the hands of a homicidal dictator whom we convince installing it over the earth would make him a hero and let him do his thing? I like how those two words sound together: homicidal and spermocidal. Also, homicidal dictators seem to have so much more energy than we do. Still, my cut seems a bit low.”

In my opinion, the conversation we were having the other night is the same one we often have about where one stands re: intractable problems, or the importance of thinking one can make a difference. Whether we can actually improve race or ethnic relations in the world (and end terrorism), prevent pandemics, expand resources at the rate population is consuming them without destroying the earth, or prevent disaster from climate change is not, in my opinion, why we talk and argue about these things.

The more I explore my feelings about it, the less I feel the need to be hopeful or not anymore, especially since 9/11 and my demon-wrestling last winter. Life is tragic. We are all headed for the same place. Redemption is an individual matter and not in the least bit subject to external considerations. Lately, feeling hopeful or hopeless doesn’t affect my actions or mood very much, except for rare occasions, when I’m assaulted by facts about many impending disasters at once.

On the other hand, we all need to have hope and I’m happy to join people in grand gestures of trying to save this world — by turning down my thermostat, writing letters to congressmen, and working on that giant sponge. I just don’t feel arguing over “data” which supports hopefulness or futility and why or how such problems are or are not intractable serves much of a purpose. If it makes people feel better thinking they can change something and in the act of trying, they help, rather than hurt people, I say go for it. If thinking one can’t change something leads to behaviors which makes that bad thing worse, I say, stop.

Reminds me that hope, like beauty according to Susan Sontag “is a judgment needed to make sense of a large portion of one’s energies, affinities and admirations.”

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