Thursday, December 27, 2007

If Mark Twain Could See Us Now

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If Mark Twain Could See Us Now

by Tom Levine

I apologize for my previous view of the human race. I see now I have been something of a Pollyanna; but what pessimist could have imagined twenty- first century man? Cruelty, greed and sloth have enjoyed a race with each other this hundred years and government met them at the finish line. The ground they sped across is sprouting horrors at a pace to give this young century the edge for history's worst before a tenth of the crop is in.

I thought we stood on the precipice of enlightenment. Instead mankind's higher aspirations were gunned down in the street as they stretched and yawned before a morning stroll to the flower shop. Jesus, too, has been wounded - in the leg and is unsuitably employed trying to heal himself. I am told an ambulance is on the way. Nations, tribes, races - they've all outlived the dubious utility of their distinctions. If once they were an irresistible excuse for the dispatching of one's fellow man, in my day it was only retail.

Every modern household features an electrified box which displays atrocities from around the world. At last the dark recesses of evil have been exposed by an amazing light for all to see and rise up against them. However, with fame these corruptions have become entertainment and are used to sell product; so they will endure. The happy chatter of their audience is interrupted only by the assassination of food. By multiplying the staggering death rate by the even more impressive total of such appliances, the entire human population can be wiped out at least once a week, and twice during holidays. Modern man lives with the grief of millions and it has made him numb to all but his own.

Pygmies shall inherit the earth. No one bothers to kill them in American households. Perhaps they are too small and it has been deemed a waste of artillery.

I have met the twenty-first century American president but I believe someone is playing me a joke. They have gone out and fetched the least likely man for the job and masqueraded him before me. I think it a bit cruel as this bumpkin must know how he is being used. I do hope to meet the real president. To guide this country as it is today, he must be of a more remarkable breed of man than any I have known.

The way medicine was bounding out of the dark ages in my lifetime, I expected this day's physician to cure a rock of its hardness. Instead medicine seems to have bounded into a wall. And stuck there. Little more is repaired now than before. The modern doctor makes his mark dispensing pills to ease the sufferer's case for a time, but which will cure him of life down the line. Government agencies exist to test these drugs but often their data is collected in the marketplace.

I have seen images from the Hubble telescope. They seem almost a grander hoax than the president but I am assured they are the real article. So this is how space looks viewed from beyond the blur of our atmosphere. What Galileo would have given for my eyes! If one must take the bad along with the good, if men can look upon such star clusters and then turn back to the more natural business of slaughtering each other for the god whose heaven they have yet to locate in that cosmos, then I suppose it is worth it. In the twenty-first century cave men look through time to the dawn of the universe. And are unmoved.

1 comment:

  1. "I thought we stood on the precipice of enlightenment."

    Well, slavery is mostly gone and more women can vote now than at any other time...

    A wise person once told me that I might as well attribute the words and actions of people to heartfelt altruism because acknowledgement of anything else would darken my spirit. Change can still be affected by attending to people's oversights.

    Having read "Bite Me" I eagerly look forward to Tom Levine's "Paradise Interrupted". Tom is the master of the distilled sentence as in: "Modern man lives with the grief of millions and it has made him numb to all but his own." Brilliant!