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the view from 30,000 feet
by john chase

There is no right, there is no wrong, there is only consensus and public opinion. Whoever has the biggest war-chest, the slickest production company to make a movie, a television show, a commercial, a web-site that tugs at the heart strings, that sways the minds of the vast majority who do not think critically--they are the ones who have the power to decide who is a victim, who is a bigot, who is tolerant, whose science is sound, who's doctoring the books, who has ulterior motives.

How did we get here? How did we arrive at this loss of a moral standard, a compass that always points north? For every scientist or expert produced that shows that carbon-dioxide output from humans burning fossil fuels is causing the earth's atmosphere to warm and if unchecked our coastal regions will be under water in a hundred years someone else can produce a scientist that shows how temperatures have actually been cooling since the mid-90's and that the earth naturally undergoes periods of warming and cooling. For every handful of economic experts that say we're better off with laissez-faire there is another handful that will show formulas and charts that point to the necessity of government intervention in monetary and fiscal policy. For every Bible-thumper who decries homosexuality, and every scientist who provides evidence of the physical deterioration of male homosexual acts, there's another scientist who has discovered a gene pointing to a propensity to same-sex attraction and a kind and well-spoken pastor who pronounces that God doesn't discriminate. Indeed, for every deliberate and thoughtful apologist for the existence of God there is a self-confident "evangelist" for the mythos of God. What science can't disprove, logic and reason will neatly sweep into the dust bin.

First there was public debate among those who had knowledge and experience. Then printing became increasingly easy and inexpensive, and the printing press became the forum for more and more to enter the debate. Next there came the radio call-in program where anyone with a phone could give us a piece of his mind, and we could hear the "experts" debate. Today we have hundreds of thousands of posts made in response to tens of thousands of articles on thousands of web-sites on a daily basis, and blogging and micro-blogging and millions of cameras and video cameras allowing anyone to post anything regardless of its veracity. Narcissism is rampant as everyone considers themselves the center of the universe, the center of a Trumanesqe life-long reality show where the whole world lives and breathes on our every move. Everyone's in a band, everyone's a star, everyone's original and awesome, everyone's cute and quirky and culturally relevant. Those who aren't are treated with bigotry and intolerance.

Where does this all lead? Are we getting better? Improving? Are we freer? Is there more justice, more equality? Those who are marginalized replace those in the limelight, who are then replaced again by the newly marginalized. Yesterday's perversion becomes today's commonality, yesterday's science today's myth. The economy cycles, morality cycles, society cycles. We go from oligarchy to anarchy to republic and back again. There is no once and for all. The victories of today will be judged by history as imprudent. What we take a stand for in our youth our age may reckon as having been trivial and misdirected. When one shouts two shout louder. There is no right, there is no wrong. There is no standard, only consensus.

"In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit."


the consummate amateur, the untiring enthusiast, waking up, emerging, beginning to understand I know less than I think, and more than I thought…

more about john chase


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