Although it’s beyond my pay grade, I prefer taking a long view of the health of the world, civilization, and the human race over spans of decades or more, out to thousands and millions of years. But let’s just look at the shorter term for the moment, shall we?
It’s not looking good. The world is very unstable and getting worse. We have a marginally insane leader in Russia named Vladimir Putin who has expansionist ambitions and a finger on a nuclear button. Then we have a completely insane leader in North Korea named Kim Jong-un who itches at the chance to extend his nuclear arsenal, including missile-launching submarines, and—not only that—brags about using them. Soon. Like tomorrow. That’s not even to mention the even more insane ISIS folks, Al-Qaeda, and other unhinged fanatics in the middle east with an ideology that yearns to metastasize around the word.
Insane? By that, I don’t mean stupid. Far from it, some of these people are brilliant, as well they need be, since it takes a very smart person to defend an indefensible position. By insane, I mean not having a complete grasp of reality. By insane, I mean seeing the world lopsidedly and delusionally, and not understanding which actions are reasonable and which lead to disaster.
Insanity. My prime example is Hitler, who may not have been clinically insane, but was totally batshit crazy when looked at through the lens of normalcy. Hitler was smart, very smart and persuasive, but he was so warped in his own reality and ambitions that he didn’t understand that taking the actions he planned would lead not only to world-wide disaster (which he probably didn’t mind), but also to the destruction of both himself and Germany. This is insanity by any sane reckoning.
Another example was Mussolini. Although I’m not enough of a student of biography and history to say for sure, I would count Mussolini’s insanity as being driven by pure narcissism—maybe not up to the mark of batshit crazy, but not far below. He was a strongman who could see no other reality than his own.
We’re all insane to at least a small degree in that our versions of reality, the ones constructed in our heads since birth, are not the reality, by which I mean the real physical universe and all its rules and consequences, but an imperfect model of it, rooted in cultural, tribal, primordial, evolutional, environmental biases. We do not see the world perfectly as it is, but only approximately at best.
For some, that personal model of reality we carry around in our heads improves with age, getting better and better as we reach out for the golden fleece of truth and understanding that’s nearly within our grasp. Then we die. For others it more or less ossifies at an early age, and remains static for the rest of our lives. No more inputs or facts needed from the exterior world, thank you Mother Nature, for we already know the truth and the truth is … whatever we’ve decided it to be, or whatever ideologies and memes have decided for us. For these, Morris Berman’s truth reigns supremely descriptive: “An idea is something you have; an ideology is something that has you.”
Which finally brings me around to my current point, which is the US presidential election. I won’t beat around the bush. We have one candidate who is certifiably batshit crazy, with more narcissism and divergence from reality than Mussolini ever displayed. And it’s not Hillary Clinton.
It’s someone named Donald Trump, who would like to rest his finger lightly on the nuclear button and dare Kim Jong-un or Vladimir Putin, or any wacked out radicals in Pakistan who come to power over its arsenal, to a nuclear stare-down—the insane goading the insane. It’s someone like Donald Trump who is so wrapped up in himself and his own needs, and who has such a warped view of reality that he thinks Mexico is going to pay for a wall that he builds, who thinks he’ll deport 11 million aliens, who sees imaginary Muslims in New Jersey dancing over the graves of 9/11 victims, who thinks defaulting on US financial obligations would be a good thing, who thinks torture and killing the families of enemies is delightful. And that’s only scratching the surface.
Make no mistake. We have the ability in this next election to make a disastrously wrong choice. We have it within our grasp to empower a self-absorbed adolescent-minded person named Donald Trump to lay his finger atop a nuclear button, real or metaphorical, and dare anyone to insult him.
This is unacceptable. We can make a decent choice this November or an astoundingly bad one. Being a space cadet type, I’d like to see the human race devoted to the cause of exploration and settlement of outer space over the long, long term, but there are obstacles to that in our current reality, and we face the possibility of global destruction of biblical proportions if we add—to the chaos of an already unstable world—a leader who is batshit crazy by most human standards.
Who am I to say these things? I say them from the authority of my experience as a Human Being. I am one. Have been for quite a while. Over the long-long haul of centuries to thousands to millions of years I am optimistic for the human race—whatever we will evolve to and wherever we will go—but I’d rather we not suffer a series of disasters and recoveries before getting there, such struggle and despair as happens in Walter Miller’s classic A Canticle for Leibowitz. Read that prophetic yet poignant novel if you want to get chills over what looks more and more likely nowadays.