People wonder what is happening. I certainly do, and it’s a natural curiosity. If only we were free to pursue any and everything we wanted, things would be so much better. In more ways than we care to imagine, we remain quite free to do as we please. There are some limits to be acknowledged. But there always were.
This new Gallup poll, via, points up some reluctance to embrace either these limits or to remain free to do as we please, sort of one or the other but not both. It is a squinting sort of acknowledgment where, if you strain or blur yours eyes, everything looks the same. Note the wording of the question:
Even if? That’s quite a hypothetical, knowing what we know. The indulgence to qualify what we might be willing to do in the event that what is going on is actually going on trails off from some deep shallowness, an allowance, a remove, a disconnect, however we want to identify it. The present is not sinking in. Maybe our quintessential optimism had to spring from somewhere – and this abrupt denial of the choices before us, based on the ones we’ve taken off the table, is it.
It brings to mind a conversation with a friend last night, a painter on his way back to his studio in Kansas. He had been in New England and related a dinner conversation there where people, otherwise sympathetic to environmental causes, were lamenting the prospect of wind turbines proposed for the Nantucket Sound. It would ruin their views, he said in disbelief, adding that the sentiment ran much the same in the Flint Hills, where similar proposals were being greeted with similar opposition, based on the same reluctance to deform the spectacular views of rolling hills with those God-awful renewable energy sources.
I personally have a deep affinity for magnificent vistas. Should we wait until they become directly encroached upon by burning coal for power to have a clearer choice, to make a choice that wouldn’t have been so bad after all? The choice doesn’t seem so clear at this point. There’s a time gap in which, one suspects, a belief in the power to return to just before the tipping point prevails. If and when we sufficiently win ourselves over on the wisdom of making the right decisions (and it’s not inevitable), we’ll go back and do just that.
I appreciate this kind of reporting, even if it confirms what we already know, that describes, in fact, the engine which has transported us to this point in the first place. But, in terms of the twin fantasies of time travel and an ability to reconcile ourselves with needed measures, we need to figure out a way to get there from here.
Photograph: Natural Bridge, La Prele Canyon. Converse County, Wyoming, 1870. courtesy USGS