Recent political news can leave one lost in the fifties (again)
Over the course of a normal week, there are almost always two or three overriding battles on the economic and political fronts that I can’t wait to research and write about. But this week? The vast number of seemingly unresolvable conflicts in the headlines just sapped my energy and resolve.
Consider: Who should and should not have nuclear weapons, TSA employees busted in drug rings, racial profiling in immigration debates, accusations of communism and socialist hypocrisy, oil and gas prices. It felt as if I’d been mysteriously transported back to the 1950s.
I wasn’t alive in that decade, but recent hot news items make a case that we’re either clinging to that decade or drowning in its detritus — no matter how many cute electronic gadgets lie within our reach.
I’m sure it was all fine and good then. Witness all the wholesome American goodness on display in “Father Knows Best,” “Ozzie and Harriet” and “Leave it to Beaver.” But isn’t it time to move on at least to the next decade already?
I’m still looking forward to all that peace and harmony my teenage babysitters crooned about in the 1960s; you know, when peeeeeace will gui-ide the-uh plan-net and lo-ove will steer the stars. (Ironically, thanks to Facebook, I learned recently that at least one of my peacenik babysitters now works for the Department of Defense.)
Because peace and harmony was the message that seemed to permeate and form my impressionable years, I was pretty convinced it was not only possible but inevitable. I was prepared to be part of it. I wanted to be part of it. Many an evening I pored over the family encyclopedias, paying particular attention to world cultures.
Of course, by late junior high and early high school, when the Vietnam War ended, President Nixon resigned over the Watergate scandal, headlines proclaimed that our generation would never see a dime of Social Security, and the oil crisis loomed, I felt like I’d been duped. And I was pretty darned upset about it too. In fact, it took another decade or so of reprogramming for me to get over it — well, most of it.
And whenever I’d run across some poor dreamy-eyed idealist with earnest talk of peace and harmony, I’d respond with an eye-roll and ask pointedly, “On what planet?” or “Get real. Do you live under a rock?”
As I sat pondering all the 1950s-esque issues in the news, an email came in from a friend in Boulder, asking if I am going to attend the Unreasonable Institute Climax event this year. I had no idea what she was talking about. But thankful for the distraction, I went to the institute’s website and within 20 minutes, not only did I reserve a ticket for the event, but all those childhood promises of peace and harmony came flooding back to me.
Here is an organization committed to helping entrepreneurs of all ages from all over the world whose ideas are so big and unreasonable when it comes to addressing the promises we grew up with that they are often met with the same eye-rolls I’ve been giving idealists for decades. And yet, at the Unreasonable Institute, business mentors and angel investors are stepping up to help bring these ideals to reality. After I’d snagged my ticket, I wrote back to my friend, thanking her.
But the outrages du jour list was still in front of me. I sincerely tried to work up some genuine interest in their layers of self-righteous legislative turfy-ness, but found that I could not. So I went digging for more evidence of peace and harmony — and found all kinds of proactive efforts reminiscent of the promises of the 1960s.
Perhaps the most exciting example of these efforts is Edward O. Wilson’s latest book, “The Social Conquest of Earth,” which points to the creative rather than the destructive forces of technology. He is convinced that understanding biology is the key to resolving human conflict.
“We have created a Star Wars civilization but we have Stone Age emotions, medieval institutions and godlike technology,” Wilson wrote in his book. But he is taking it a step further. His Biodiversity Foundation is working with 3D animators, educators and multimedia artists trained in science to create an online beginners’ course in biology distributed free by Apple in 32 countries, including the United States.
The more I dug, the more I found.
Maybe all that peace and harmony is back on the table after all. Or maybe not. Could be the air of spring. Either way, it’s far more interesting than this week’s Atomic Café menu of political and economic outrages. Eye-roll, anyone?