Merriott column: It’ll take a moon shot to fix fear, and loathing
What comes to your mind when you think of fear?
For me, it would have to be Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Aspen’s Hunter Thompson. I trust you have read the book or seen the movie, or both?
But, no, really Hunter pegged it almost 50 years ago didn’t he? Isn’t that kind of where we are today? Isn’t loathing really a synonym for hate, and hasn’t our current society turned to fear and loathing (hate) blacks vs. whites vs Latinos; gays vs. straights; conservatives vs. progressives (so glad I’m a moderate?); fossil fuelers vs. tree huggers. And the list goes on and on.
What the hell has happened to our country?! The art of civil discourse and compromise seem to have beaten a path into that God-awful swamp.
The genesis of this — one has to believe — comes from the dysfunction in D.C., ramped up on steroids by noisy rhetoric. It has filtered down to state houses and town halls, to the neighborhood bar and to our supper tables?
I have always been able to talk to my friends in an “agree to disagree” mode, if necessary. Last week, a really close friend said some disparaging things about me and my fellow Colorado residents.
The vile and untrue populist world view opinions would have shown to be blatantly false with a quick Google search. But, alas, no, I guess it felt better to fear and loathe. It really hurt my feelings.
Fear (and some loathing) has staged a so-far bloodless but nonetheless ugly coup on the psyche of our country! But didn’t FDR say the “only thing we have to fear is fear itself?” Of course, he did.
Stealing from columnist George Will and our own Sen. Michael Bennet, I love this quote from Thucydides on the civil war in the city of Corcyra: “With public life confused to the critical point, human nature, always ready to act unjustly even in violation of laws, overthrew the laws themselves and gladly showed itself powerless over passion but stronger than justice and hostile to any kind of superiority.”
This hostility is not acceptable. Remember, fear is nothing but false evidence appearing real. It is not fear like a B-29 navigator in WW II making a nighttime raid over Japan with flak bursting all around, as everyone tries to hold on target just a few more seconds until bombs away.
OK, what’s my answer? Well, it’s a moon-shot mentality from a charismatic, intelligent leader with a true moral compass. Come on, I know you are out there. Step up, your country needs you now.
What’s a moon-shot mentality, you ask?
As George Will wrote, Apollo 11 still dazzles! It was 50 years ago, July 20, 1969, that the USA put a man on the moon! To put it in perspective, 1968 was a disastrous year for our country. The Tet Offensive in Vietnam was broadcast on the evening news, Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy were assassinated within months of each other, cities were in flames, emotions were running high … and that’s an understatement.
Given existing technologies then, it was impossible to put a man on the moon, right? President John F. Kennedy said the program, “would serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills.” It was the largest peacetime government initiative in the nation’s history. Nearly 2% of the American workforce was engaged — more than 400,000 people.
Apollo 11 was hurled upward by engines burning “15 tons of liquid oxygen and kerosene per second!” That’s a moon-shot mentality.
F Scott Fitzgerald wrote, “The test of first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function. One should, for example, be able to see that things are hopeless and yet be determined to make them otherwise.”
We have more moon shots to make on climate change, health care, racism, education, plastic poisoning, animal extinctions, immigration reform, wealth disparity, gender equality, overpopulation and gun violence.
Moon shots, all. But you know what? We can do this.
We saved the free world in WWII and we put men on the moon, and we can solve these problems! The planet is depending on us.
You know one reason why I believe?
Because when Apollo 11 launched 50 years ago, JoAnn Morgan was the lone woman in a sea of male faces and black ties at Apollo 11 Launch Control, and now we have hundreds of thousands (maybe millions) of Momma Grizzlies wanted the best for their cubs, themselves and, yes, all their loved ones.
That energy effectively channeled can and should fuel many a moon shot. Ladies, what say you?
If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem.
Frosty Merriott is a CPA in Carbondale and former Carbondale Town Council member. He is a registered independent and considers himself a fiscal conservative but an original tree hugger from Louisiana. His column appears monthly in the Glenwood Springs Post Independent. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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