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"Fatigue and Nausea [Sick and Tired]"

The topic for discussion at our Humanist meeting at the Genealogy Library last month was "Science and Morality." I had Charles Hyder's book, HUMAN SURVIVAL ON A PLUTONIUM-CONTAMINATED PLANET, with me and before it was over I had told his story at some length. He was a scientist who acted out his sense of morality, to the point that he died trying to help people understand that the wet salt in the WIPP nuclear waste repository is not a safe container for lethal material.

One of our members, Jay Evans, referred to what he called "the dark side of science," meaning all the destructive capability which science has put into human hands. My own view was that scientists are mere human beings, like the rest, using a remarkable tool to do all the things, good and bad, that humans do. I suspect that the "darkness" reflects our perception of the fact that this empire that we are in is on the point of collapse. All the wasted ingenuity, on weapons and entertainment devices, plus that bull-headed refusal to begin to tend to problems like nuclear waste and global warming, look dark. It feels like perversity.

The predictive capability of science may account for the current administration's hostility toward science itself. "If you keep on doing this and this, these things will happen," science says. But we like doing this and this [stockpiling and "upgrading" nuclear weapons, e.g.], so we'll discredit science itself, so what we can keep on doing those things. We can't deal with bird flu, because doing so involves believing in evolution. Our discussion never got to my main concern, which is how many scientists, so-called, can be cheaters and liars, falsifying results, testifying before government panels, making preposterously false statements, like, "Plutonium isn't dangerous." The fault isn't in science, or a dark side of science. The fault is human scoundrels, paid to pose as scientists.

We did get to another concern of mine -- the human tendency to react to information with the statement, "Oh, well, I'll be dead before that." Global warming, water scarcity, even bird flu -- people have said to me, "I'll be dead before that becomes a serious problem." Future WIPP releases on the shores of Iceland, for example, don't excite very many people.

After the meeting Jay and Ted Cloak and I went out into the street and joined the world-wide anti-war march and rally, sponsored locally by The Stop the War Machine. They started at the UNM Bookstore and headed down Central Avenue. We joined the march and went with them to Robinson Park at 8th Street.

I studied the crowd at the rally in the park. There seemed to be a lack of zing, a lack of verve -- something was missing in the mood. I recalled the singing all the way from Selma to Montgomery in 1965, and the riled-up indignation at the Hiroshima Day Peace Rally in Atlanta in the long hot summer of 1967. The rock music of today didn't stir us.

Maybe it's just me. Fatigue and Nausea. Sick and Tired. We've been doing this for thirty years. The situation seems extremely dire to me. Besides the deaths and maimings caused by the war, which is so reminiscent of Vietnam it's painful, now we have the pre-emptive strike doctrine and nuclear weapons in the hands of maniacs who believe in Armageddon and God.

Then, just to make sure we do understand all this correctly, we went to see the movie, WHY WE FIGHT. It is an excellent commentary on Ike's warning about "the military-industrial complex." Now it has to be called "the military-industrial-congressional-thinktank complex." There they are, on the screen, running things. The neo-cons were terrifying Cheney, Wolfowitz, Perle, Kristol, et al. The acting president looked more and more disgusting, totally out of it and enjoying himself.

Where is everybody? I've decided the great majority are on dope. The media provide the narcotic. I went to the car dealer, to have the car serviced, and found the waiting room full of poison. Daytime TV was blasting, so one could not ignore it. I'm convinced that this is the drug for the general population, designed to make dictatorship possible and even easy.

Those who take this drug become softies, easy to influence, easy to lie to, gullible, incapable of making logical inferences, bored and impatient with complication and nuance, unaware of contradiction, unaware of analogy. The drug prepares people for fundamentalism -- short, memorable, clever slogans which seem to provide answers to questions which would be troublesome without the drug.

After a while thinking as such is abandoned. Let the noise and nearly but not quite meaningless exhortations and instructions wash over your eyes and ears and consciousness, until consciousness itself is obliterated. You become an unaware zombie. You do what you're told. You wouldn't dream of protesting anything, no matter how insulting, how contradictory, how false the situation becomes.

We're sick and tired of it all. We have an advanced case of Fatigue and Nausea. What to do? Read more history, talk to people, vote if they let you, continue to protest, stay in the street -- so that you're part of the solution, if there is one, and not part of the problem.

"These are times that try men's souls."

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Copyright © 2006 Harry Willson

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