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29 June 2010

I Don't Want to Set the World on Fire

Robert Oppenheimer is said to have remarked that the whole world is, quite obviously going to hell-- adding, however, that the one slim chance of its not going to hell is that we do absolutely nothing to stop it...Practically, this means that we stop crusading -- that is, acting for such abstract causes as the good, righteousness, peace, universal love, freedom and social justice, and stop fighting against such equally abstract bogeys as communism, fascism, racism and the imaginary powers of darkness and evil. For most of the hell now being raised in the world is well intentioned (Alan Watts, Does it Matter? p.22).
 I don't want the world to go to hell. I don't want to participate in its destruction. I don't want to set the world on fire. The world we live in is an awesome place and before civilization implodes (if it happens in my lifetime) I'd like to enjoy what it has to offer. Of all the experiences we can expect to have, climbing mountains of irradiated corpses isn't one that I'd choose. Climbing purple mountains on the other hand sounds much more pleasing. So, I wish to remain unaffiliated. Doing nothing to stop the seemingly inevitable deterioration of our creation.

This idea probably won't sit well with most. And so the well intentioned masses will continue the fight to keep what we've got and want. But if history is any indicator, of how civilization will all play out, then the status quo will collapse. The world will burn as it has done many times before and there will be nothing I can do to stop it. Doing nothing will be the only thing to do. This sounds wrong but if we do everything we can to stop the apocalypse and it still happens, then doing nothing wouldn't be a bad choice after all.
I Don't Want to Set the World on Fire
Now I'm not saying that I wouldn't defend myself or country if attacked. If anyone tries to shackle me without reason or cause or try to exterminate me, they will be met with resistance. I'm sure most would agree with that. What I'm saying is that I will not fight for some abstract ideal. For instance, medical reform to bring about "change" in how we receive medical care is not something I would "fight," for or against. For who am I to know what is best for our situation. On one side, the conservative is right and on the other, the liberal is right (at least they are right in their respective circles). Who are we to believe is right when they both claim the other is wrong and claim that they are right? Those in power and those who came before them, are they anymore privy to what will be best? I think they have done enough already. But there is an impression, that if those in power do nothing, then the whole thing will fall apart. Doing everything has worked so well so far, why not keep doing it and see where it takes us (sarcasm). That way of thinking seems more likely to sink this ship then by doing nothing. But as I said above, this idea probably won't be taken well by most. I don't want to set the world on fire but that doesn't mean that it isn't going to happen.
 Does It Matter?: Essays on Man's Relation to Materiality

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