Monday, June 16, 2008

An Insurance Policy

There is much to be said for modern civilization. The very best part, as far as I am concerned, is the internet. With the internet, my daughter-in-law has direct access to customers for her hand-etched glassware, while I have direct access to like minds from every corner of our blue planet. With the internet, a library's worth of information is available with the touch of a few keys. With the internet, I can order water-soluble stabilizer from Canada or discuss the weather with a friend in Germany, all the while I sit in my easy chair and watch the sun rise.

I love DVR and television and Netflix. I love that my husband can watch Tiger Woods play golf on Father's Day and that we can rewind to watch any spectacular plays that were missed. I love that we can watch, in the comfort of our living room, birds who imitate car alarms and old movies and new classics and documentaries that tell us about the mess we have made in Iraq. I love going to the store and finding avocadoes any time I want. I love my digital photo frame that continuously cycles the best of my memories. I love the coolness of my air conditioning on a hot, humid day. I love the warmth of my heating system on a cold, windy day. I love the music, the art, the literature and how very easy it is to share those with the world. I love Harry Potter books and movies and "The Sword of Truth" series. I love the comfort and convenience of automobiles, the miracle of hot, clean water at the turn of a tap, the labor-saving marvels of washing machine, dryer, stove and refrigerator. I love modern medicine and the role it has played in making lives healthier, more comfortable, and more productive. I love telephones and being able to hear our children's voices virtually any time we want. I love '"helping hand" pendants and knowing that we can leave Mother and not have to worry if she is all right.

So why am I in a panic, running around saying the sky is falling? I guess it comes down to this: I'm not saying civilization is going to collapse. I'm saying it might. And if it does, I want an insurance policy, a fall-back position, a Plan B. There are days when I think it would take improbably catastrophic changes to cause the downfall I fear, and there are days when I fear that's exactly what we're in for. We seem to seem to be at a point of convergence, of all our problems coming to maturity at once. It's global warming and peak oil and overpopulation and the over-exploitation and destruction of Earth's resources. It's huge cities where millions of people have grown too dependent on power grids, piped-in water, piped-out sewage, and trucked-in food from mega-farms. It's too many people in the world who hate us and wish us harm. It's too many people in our economic ghettos who hate us and wish us harm. It's our insular lives that revolve around electronic devices and have become detached from the real world. It's our selfish greed and our abysmal ignorance and our preoccupied indifference. And I know that I, too, am part of it all -- the good, the bad, and the ugly. Those are our crows and sooner or later, they are coming home to roost.

In my lifetime? Maybe. That's why I want an insurance policy.

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