The Fire of Time

T.D. Mischke expresses his ambivalence towards humanity in his latest column for City Pages.

Over one billion people are expected to vote [for the Seven Great Wonders of the Natural World], and they say not a single one will be opting for my candidate.

The global poll to determine the seven natural wonders of the world is underway—seven natural wonders to go alongside the seven manmade wonders. The finalists include the Amazon rain forest, the Dead Sea, Mount Kilimanjaro, and Ecuador's Galapagos Islands. Millions have weighed in already, online and by phone. But they tell me my vote has been wasted because my candidate was never nominated...

I nominate you, the creature I see out my car window shuffling past the convenience store, picking the quarter off the sidewalk. You with the fanny pack emerging from Walmart with your lawn ornament.

I nominate myself and my brethren—we the people. I nominate us as the greatest wonder of the natural world. We've only been around 200,000 years, yet look at us. We're something to write home about.

Mountains, trees, and waterways are sites to ponder, but what subject dominates bookshelves everywhere? Human life, that's what. We're not just standing there looking pretty. We're on the move. We're going places. The ancient Egyptians were something, but the ancient Greeks were better. And I like Martin Luther as much as the next guy, but have you read Ken Wilber?

Yes, we rape and torture, but it only makes the Minnesota Orchestra all the more startling. We have the dark and the light in us like nothing this universe has ever seen. Even night and day don't have such stark alter egos. Night is as sweet and soulful as any summer afternoon. Our dark side, however, is too horrific to fully comprehend (see Nanking, 1937). So when we walk on the moon and build the St. Paul Cathedral, there is every reason to ask, who the hell are these freaks?

We are the world's greatest show, for better and for worse. We offer jaw-dropping surprises when you least expect it. When the savagery of South Africa's apartheid leaves you ashamed and aching for that isolated cabin in the woods, along comes the staggeringly mature civility of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and damned if we don't outdo ourselves again.

We can vomit on a park bench holding a cheap bottle of brandy and give our lives to save a child we've never met. We can stand with our shirt half untucked, needing a shave, smelling of old cigarettes, and deliver a sentiment that cracks open a steel heart. Our capacity for love is boundless, but we can die moaning of some half-cent sales-tax increase.

What else touches our depravity and nobility? What else comes near our fascinating complexity? We are dust, and we are gods, peerless in our paradox.

|Humankind snubbed on Seven Wonders of the World List (hyperlinks omitted)|

I've been reading the Tao of Physics lately and Mischke's article makes me think about the yin and yang and how several schools of eastern spirituality believe that all people possess light and darkness in their souls, the yin and yang.

So very different from the Christian conception that we're born with the corruption of "original sin" and have to be baptisized, only to later struggle with "sin" our entire lives.

I prefer to think everyone has the potential for light and darkness within them.

No comments:

Post a Comment

eXTReMe Tracker