Pandemic offers opportunity for reflection
Pandemic or opportunity? In speaking to folks I’ve encountered while out walking during this shut-down, it seems that without the distraction of life as we knew it, many are taking a good look at the difference between how things were and how they could be.
Because while we’ve had this virus spreading around the globe and affecting the vulnerable, we’ve also had a shocking halt to commerce and entertainment providing us an extraordinary pportunity to reboot—both as individuals and a species—and wake the flock up. Forced into a situation of non-activity, people are looking at themselves, perhaps for the first time, and seeing how they have been gulled, lured or programmed into attitudes and behaviors not at all in their best interest. They are waking up and recognizing that there is more to life than chasing a buck, and that human connection and working cooperatively toward the well-being of all has a value that cannot be bought.
People are telling me that without the distraction of society, a creative force inside them is calling to be expressed, and there is a greater appreciation for life itself.
They are also recognizing that no politician, or superhero will save the day, but that we the people have the power to create the change we want to see in the world by changing ourselves: changing
our attitudes, changing our behavior, and especially, changing how we perceive and relate to each other.
So maybe this pandemic is more of a blessing than a curse, and instead of criticizing each other we can understand that what we do have in common is the desire to live a healthy, creative life, fulfilling for body and soul, and that there’s plenty to go around when we’re willing to share.
Lack of science in White House puts us all at risk
Science has a long pedigree. Its first stages, thousands of years ago in the ancient Middle East, were marked by systematic observations of the natural world. Applied science appeared early on with pottery and metallurgy: brass, bronze, and steel. Ancient Greeks developed theories of the atom, made advances in mathematics (Pythagoras: geometry) and the natural sciences, leading to empirical analyses of phenomena (Aristotle) that eventually led to geography, zoology, and botany. The Greeks also furthered advances in astronomy, medicine (Hippocrates), mathematics (Euclid and Archimedes), and the taxonomy of plants and animals (Theophrastus).
The Chinese developed the compass (11th century) and seismology. Earlier they had made many major advances in the applied sciences. To our utter dismay, they also invented gunpowder. What is known as the scientific method developed in the Middle Ages. Briefly it follows this scheme: pose a question (the hypothesis); gather evidence and do background research. Follow up with experimental testing; revise the hypothesis if necessary and draw a conclusion.
Much later, what has gone before may be upended by further research and a new paradigm established.
I wonder where all this has led us to. Certainly not to the unscientific man in the White House. What has he done? He rejected the findings of the National Climate Assessment; sidelined or removed scientists at the Department of the Interior, the Center for Disease Control, and the Board of Scientific Counselors. He intentionally blinded himself to evidence of climate change: melting of sea ice, polar icecaps, permafrost, and glaciers; rising sea levels; rising world temperatures; floods, droughts, fires, more severe hurricanes and tornadoes, etc.
I am afraid we have a yellow-crested babbler (a distant cousin of the yellowbreasted warbler) tweeting nonsense from the White House. What marks these posts? A world without science. Heaven help us!
Bozeman Daily Chronicle Letters to the Editor 5/13/20