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Su Lum: Progress report

I’m sorry to report that we are not making any progress as a species. If this is what the pontificators meant by the great bridge we needed to build and cross to bring us into the 21st century, we would have been better off taking the ferry.

Carl Sagan used to say that we were a species in its adolescence, like a bunch of teenagers in a room with 6 inches of gasoline on the floor, playing with matches. If we didn’t wise up, we’d blow up our blue planet or exterminate humanity. Now we seem to be regressing rather than progressing.

One would think that this would be a glorious era for humankind, but we don’t seem to have the wisdom to keep up with our technology.

We have the Internet, the most fantastic source of information we have ever known, and we screw it up with spam, porn and a race to control and profit from it. We will lose this resource, slowly but surely.

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We are healthier and living longer but are more frightened about our health than ever before. We’re afraid of Big Macs, afraid of our chicken, our water (some of that bottled water comes from Rocky Flats), afraid not to take heavily advertised preventative drugs. First afraid of fat, now afraid of carbohydrates. Worse, no one knows what to do with us after keeping us alive.

There will always be a leading cause of death, and ours is likely to be stress.

You’d think that here in the glorious 21st century we’d be more tolerant of our various ethnic backgrounds and religions, but the opposite is true. We may not have the strange and bitter fruits of lynchings hanging in our trees, but anti-Semitism is on the rise around the world, African- and Native Americans will be quick to tell you that all is not hunky dory here at home, and 9/11 showed us how quickly we can turn on our perceived enemies and anyone who had the temerity to say we might be wrong. American Fries ” take that, you frogs! Is this progress?

What happened to whimsy? When did recreation turn into labor? Why the hell do we care if homosexuals want to get married? Our marriage statistics aren’t anything to brag about ” maybe they’ll show us something, or not ” who cares?

We have access to more news coverage than we’ve had in our history, and we don’t believe (and shouldn’t) anything we read or hear or see. Humanity is in trouble when we don’t believe a word that our leaders tell us.

Two events are worth noting, one large, one small. George W. Bush is running unopposed, and John Kerry has the Democratic nomination sewed up, so it’s hard to get excited about the deficit when both parties are going to hold convention extravaganzas anyway. Cancel the conventions!

The small one is the Masonic Lodge initiation where the initiator was supposed to scare the hell out of the initiate by firing blanks at him. The initiator (oops) accidentally pulled out his OWN gun by mistake and shot the initiate dead. In 2004.

If this is civilized behavior ” crass fraternity games exacerbated by someone packing a real weapon ” if won’t be long before one of those kids drops a lit match on the gasoline.

[Su Lum is a longtime local who doesn’t have any faith in our individual or collective judgment. Her column appears every Wednesday in The Aspen Times.]


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