“The science is not settled on this. The idea that we would put Americans’ economy at jeopardy based on scientific theory that’s not settled yet to me is just nonsense. ..Just because you have a group of scientists who stood up and said here is the fact. Galileo got outvoted for a spell”---Governor Rick Perry, in response to a question about whether he believes man-made climate change is occurring.
Dear Governor Perry,
I was very glad that you summoned the ghost of Galileo to last week’s Republican Party Debate. After spending many sleepless hours trying to figure out who you were comparing to Galileo I decided it didn’t matter- you’ve placed things in their proper perspective. IMHO, our number one challenge as a nation is to come to terms with the fact that we are not the center of the Universe.
As young children we think everything is about us. It’s normal and adaptive. But the road from childhood to adulthood provides us with a lifetime’s worth of experiences that teach us, repeatedly and often painfully, that this is not the case. In response to these challenges to our inflated self esteem, some of us try, in vain, to run backwards. Others lick their wounds and move on. Most of us probably do some of both.
The United States is still a relatively young nation- and, like a big kid, we still have this tendency to see ourselves as the center of all things, and to think it’s all about us, man -made climate change notwithstanding. Kind of like the kids on the L who play their radios really loud and can’t imagine their actions have an effect on anyone else or that there is anyone else to take account of. We’ve been by raised on the dream of unlimited possibilities, expansion without limits, and the message that everybody can be number one if they just try hard enough
Few, I think, would argue that the road we’ve travelled in the past 10 year has provided us with challenges to that point of view. But somehow we have not yet been able to turn these challenges into lessons that permit forward movement, beyond our national adolescence and into maturity. Instead, we have developed an unhealthy attraction to those who suggest that the path forward is to pursue the illusion of moving backwards, to a time before social security, before medicare, before civil rights.
How far back would you like us to go? Before the Civil War? Before 13 colonies agreed to establish a federal government where each state had to give something up in order to get something? What would Galileo say?
Governor, I recognize that nations aren’t individuals, and that by applying this kind of logic I am making the very mistake I am criticizing, seeing things from my own self centered point of view. So please take this all with a grain of salt.
But I do hope you will think about these comments, and that you will rent Woody Allen’s movie Midnight in Paris to get the idea of how futile it is to go back in time to a past that didn’t exist. Also, I’d recommend reading my blog entry about the movie. And the one I wrote on narcissism, as well.
I appreciate that adding these items to your bedtime reading might be stepping outside of the box. But by entertaining an alternate point of view, you would find yourself much closer, in spirit, to Galileo. At least, from my point of view.
Your Fellow American,