Friday, February 6, 2009

"Why, Oh Why Didn't I Take the Blue Pill"

You take the blue pill, the story ends, you wake up in your bed, and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill, you stay in Wonderland, and I show you just how deep the rabbit hole goes. --Morpheus
It's bad form for a blogger to beat up on his commenters. They really are his friends, for the most part, even the one's he's never actually met. They keep him intellectually honest, or at least they try. On the other hand, male "conversation" can take an awful lot more in-your-face disagreement than most women think and suffer no ill effects to the friendship. It's an undeniable gender difference that was repeatedly driven home to me every time my ex asked, "So, are you and (fill in the blank with opponent from spirited "conversation" at that night's gathering) still friends?" For the longest time, I didn't understand the question. Finally I recognized that the male openness with disagreement--a mode of interaction actually founded on mutual respect--is vastly different from the pretended concurrence that marks many estrogen-driven interactions. The men would get it all out, have the next best thing to a fist fight (enjoying ourselves immensely all the while) and part the best of friends and looking forward to the next round. Meanwhile, the women would conceal and contain their true opinions, part with kisses and hugs, only to say as soon as the car door closed, "I don't care if I never see that b-tch again! Do you know what she said?" The man who dares suggest that his partner should have said something to the offending party at the time will learn rather quickly that he'll fare better if it tries to stop a train in the mode of Hancock.

But, I digress. Both the dumbing down of America and the warming up of the world seem to have seeded conversations on this blog in interesting ways. And though I might have answered in the comment thread that spawned the thoughts which follow, they seem to have general enough applicability to merit their own post. Brace yourself. I'm going to take a stand. You may not like it. (Of course, I look at the paragraph above and think, "I've probably already crossed that line.") Feel free to say so.

In my opinion, arguing that anthropomorphic climate change is "controversial" or "theoretic" is like taking the same stance on evolution by natural selection. If you're comfortable with it, fine. You're in the right country for that. Outnumbered in the developed world in that stance, but hardly lonely in America, where nine of ten adults can't explain what radiation is and how it affects the human body, and where, staggeringly, one in five adults believes the sun revolves around the earth.

If you find comfort in the increasingly minority opinion that our continued pumping of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere can possibly be without consequence, then lucky you. To borrow a phrase from my college physics text, some things should be "intuitively obvious to even the casual observer." I think perhaps the best thing about Gore's movie may have been its title. When even the truth that we can intuit is "inconvenient," we develop an interest in grasping at straws. I should remember how to do that. Many was the time in my undergraduate days when Air Force was down by over three touchdowns with less than two minutes to play and our cheerleaders were frantically trying to convince us all, "We can still win!" Right.

Who needs forests or clean energy or a balanced budget? I think for many the most important question seems to be, "Will the bill come due in my lifetime? Will I see the consequences?" When the answer is "No," it becomes easier still to believe the convenient construction of things, to swallow as it were, the blue pill. For some, it's not even a choice, but a necessity.
We never free a mind once it's reached a certain age. It's dangerous. The mind has trouble letting go. --Morpheus
Related Links
Now where else can you find those two links together? :-) Deconstruct that one, Buck. ;-)