What do you listen to after a Mozart Symphony? Why, Antonio Carlos Jobim of course. No noise, just serenity, especially if Stan Getz and Astrud Gilberto are on the album. I wanted to continue my thoughts from yesterday while I have some time before some tasks beckon me.
You said that you know in your bones that we have screwed up the ecosystem, temperature, and the world. This statement is truly a big burden to live with. Rather than addressing this directly I would like to share my thoughts on how I formulated my belief or faith on this subject.
As you used faith to mean what we know without knowing it would it make sense to say part of this faith comes about after a gradual processing of thoughts, experiences, learning and living? This is the well of experiences and thought you draw from when some of your beliefs come from faith.
When I was in my early twenties (or late teens?) there was something of a panic going on about the then upcoming weather phenomenon that was going to mean doom for the human race within 10 years. It was a global ice age. To me the most frightening fact was that according to scientists the oceans would freeze. Most harmful was this freezing of the oceans would mean our whole food chain would be affected. Quickly after this was all anyone spoke about, Hollywood got involved. I remember Ted Danson and Ed Asner were frequently interviewed on news shows. What astounded them was that with this freezing you could walk from Alaska to Russia and the whales would die. Why they were called upon as experts I don’t recall.
More recently global warming was the doomsday vehicle. Scientists had the data; the United Nations formulated the Kyoto Agreement to stop this catastrophic event because mankind had very little time left. Hollywood got involved. We couldn’t have Polar Bears dying. Experts testified before Congress. To me what was telling was no one was talking about the biggest source of heat, the sun. Also telling was one of the provisions of the Kyoto Agreement was that two nations were being granted emerging nation status and would not have to abide by the pollution and clean air laws for a number of years . These two countries were among the top four polluters; China and Brazil. The world was in immediate danger but yet these two countries could continue as usual. This was puzzling to me.
Sometime later there were articles about the national weather service placing weather reading stations in places that did not produce a true reading of temperature. Some of these sites were near airport tarmacs and on top of flat-roofed buildings close to air conditioning units and heat generators. This list goes on but I just wanted you to know some of the things that I’ve observed that lead me to question what I hear and read. For me this is particularly true when money is involved and some greedy persons take advantage of people’s fears; companies start up, books are written, interviews are given, web sites emerge, movies are produced, and politicians use the issue to win elections. The cycle continues. Theme and variations. Noise and more noise.
I do feel there have been weather changes and shifting, but as I see it weather changes all the time. I haven’t come to the conclusion that the world will end. I will also be the first to admit that I could be totally wrong.
In any case I do not have a profound guilt that I am responsible for all this. The best I can do is lead a good life and do the best I can as an individual, a father, husband, and family member. This is the sphere I live in and have a direct impact on.
As I stated before it saddened me that you seem to take on a burden more than one person can. Look at what you’ve done in your 37 years. Look at the love that you have instilled in people for you, your many accomplishments, and the students whose lives you’ve touched and continue to have an impact on, the time you spend with your sons. The list can continue but then it would sound too much like a father bragging about one of his sons. Look to the good as well. I know you’re destined for something extraordinary.
Faith. What we know without knowing it.
I’m glad we have a restarting point. The last post was more than 1&1/2 years ago? Not to sound clichéd but, damn, where did the time go? As busy as you get, we can always make some time to keep this project going. I say you because I have much more time than you (since I am RETIRED). You juggle a job, actively compose, and create inroads in your writing. You and Christine are raising two boys who are absolute joys and add years to our lives. All at the same time packing up and moving to Minnesota. Don’t feel remiss if the entries are not as frequent as you might want. Let’s not add another responsibility on ourselves but rather just take the opportunity whenever it comes. Let’s take quality over quantity. (“What do you want, speed or accuracy?”)
You wrote in an earlier entry that you were on a news fast for months. I’ve been going through the same. I haven’t been watching or listening to news for many months. I am aware of what’s going on to a point but I have to admit I’ve gotten tired of all the noise. It’s always the same theme and variations. I now have found three local classical music radio stations that have good reception and they are what I listen to while driving. Two of them have no ads and do not broadcast news on the hour, half hour, on the eights or elevens or what have you. One of the stations has live streaming. No noise, just serenity. Mom says I’ve rediscovered my first love, classical music. In actuality I feel about classical music as I always have, but now I can listen to a Beethoven sonata without unknowingly going 20 miles over the speed limit at the allegro movement.
You said that faith to you is what we know without really knowing it. I believe it’s a gut feeling about something that you know or believe is true. You also said that we seek ways to confirm the ideas we have put our faith in. I agree with all of that but I would like to add one thing that has been important to me. Someone once said that in any group there will be someone that is as bright as or brighter than you equally well educated who has views that are 180 degrees opposite yours. Whatever I know to be true for me that comes from faith or opinion there is the possibility I might be wrong to some degree or totally wrong for that matter.
You stated some issues that set you on fire and we can certainly address those things. What I would like to share with you first is the overall feeling I get from your post. It saddens me to a degree in the sense that you are taking on more than one person can. When you say your sense of human greed, recklessness and shortsightedness there doesn’t seem to be any room for the good. Agreed there are greedy, reckless and shortsighted people. These are traits that are in many of us. That has always been and always will be. The burden of humanness does not rest on you alone. You are not responsible for the worlds’ ills because of birth.
I think for now I am going to listen to Mozart’s Symphony in G Minor. No noise, just serenity.
It’s been a long time since I’ve posted, and I apologize for it. I really believe in this project; I think it would be good for us and might even be good for others, on so many levels. It’s so tempting to disengage, though, or say nothing about the things that really get under our skin or confuse us. But I want to work on doing small things that might actually help us understand each other, and by “us” I mean everyone.
There are so many things that set me on fire: guns, Tr*mp (who needs no more publicity, not even a mention on an obscure blog), calls for leveling some more people in some more countries, some of the reactions to the campus climate interventions in recent days. I could go on and on.
Rather than pick an issue, though, I wanted to explain a little of my reticence to do so. It has to do with the concept of Faith. Not religious faith necessarily, though that could be something to talk about, as I expect we are coming from very different places in that respect. I mean faith in the sense of what we know without knowing it, and the way we seek things out that confirm the ideas in which we have placed our faith. To pick an example: I am not, as you know, a climate scientist but I KNOW in my bones, without really knowing it, that we have screwed up the ecosystem/temperature/world. Sure, I learned about it in school and read a few articles and etc, but on some level I am going on faith, putting my trust in people who know more than I do, because it fits into my view of the world, my sense of human culpability/greed/recklessness/shortsightedness. (I picked this one because it is as undebatable for me as anything I can imagine; I just KNOW this is true, but I have not done anything in the way of responsibly confirming it. This is not to say that I have any doubt about it. Which makes it an even better example. You know?)
There are other bedrock ideals that feel good to confirm, so I seek out things that confirm them. Everyone probably does, and, because someone can make money off of this impulse, someone does. We get to curate our news, pick a media outlet/talk show host that tells us what, on some level, we know without knowing. So we can shop for information like a scarf. Except I think we both have a suspicion that there is something true out there that is not subject to our aesthetic judgments, that goes on being true regardless of the ideas in which we have placed our faith. That some ideals are better than others, because they bring about less pain and suffering if we uphold them. Maybe we could get to some of those, or at least be aware that, as we debate some kind of issue, the thing driving us is the desire to confirm a conviction that got there in a complicated way, that shapes us in ways we don’t fully understand.
The Truth Is Out There?