Untitled photo
Untitled photo

Dee Knapp visiting the grave site of four of her five children, near her home in Oklahoma.

Credit... Lynsey Addario/Getty Images

Treason Against Humanity

“The pursuit of happiness”

may be the most misleading phrase of all time.

In The New York Times of January 9, 2020 Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn wrote what may be the saddest story I have ever read. It is headlined:

Who Killed the Knapp Family? Across America, working-class people — including many of our friends — are dying of despair. And we’re still blaming the wrong people.”

I had just finished another sad story from the opposite side of the univerise: Embarrassment of Riches— The ultra-wealthy who argue that they should be paying higher taxes by Sheelah Kolhatkar. It followss the life of Abigail Disney and The Patriotic Millionairs who have not figured how to deal with wealth as much as anyone has not figured out how to deal with what life has handed them. All this is surrounded by my effort to figure out how the wealthy are killing the earth, essentially burning down, flooding and otherwise burrying the place they live and that gave birth to them.

There is also a chain of books that I drag along: Jim Holt’s book about why there is something rather than nothing, Robert Wright’s The Evolution of God, E.O. Wilson’s Socio-Biology, Stephen Pinker’s The Blank Slate and Steven Hawking’s A Brief History of Time.

Since my thinking is evolving as I write, we remember the Bible, the Torah and the Koran as ostensable sources of truth. And

At this pint I see two villinies: the gradual right wing swing of the Republician party

Toss in the concept of reciprocity as essential to the survival of any society, the Bible, Koran, and a few others. Am I searching for the meaning of life. I don’t think so. I have had a good one so far (at 78) but I being driven crazy by the behaviors of humankind. The Shackters marketing of opiods, the oil barrons killing the earth and knowing it, the ideologies of low taxes that steal from the poor to make the righ richer, but above all trying to figure out why it is so easy to ignore a dying earth. Mixed in is Tom Jefferson pursuit of happiness, racism and the migration of all our ancestorts out of Africa znd it seems to be addiing up to the perfect unsolvble puzzle while I feel I am getting off the track. Back in a minmute. If there is one theme that stands out among all the confusion it is isolation and it is isolation in many forms. All kind of groups know things that others don’t being more or less a scientist I cannot start any real discussion without going back to the beginning, the big bang. That leads down many roads, changes you to know the its revelations, but dons not answer any . “Why” questions. My religious friends and family then chime in with God. And I chime back that God is the name of a cause nd not a cause. Evolutionary psychology is more interesting in that it causes you to look back to what life was like for early homo and what may have been passed dwn to us. However, I toss out “survival of the fittest” as a bit warped and prefer survival of what works. Phyysicists who promise theories of everything never in my readings mention emotion, sentience, consciousness. I think that these fall into the category of “hard” problems, whereas detecting gravity waves is an easy problem: it could be solved.

Next is where I ended up after running out of the big bang the the universe delivering the earth. I tried reverse engineering first, but that got me nowhere at first. Then I thought I would jump to the front of the line, get logical, and ask what was the best in life.

This produced results if not the final ones.

Music has been a central theme of my life and I was chasing down performances of the Chopin b-flat minor Scherzo which I play (more or less) on the piano. In the course of that I bumped into a pianist I did not know named Kristian Zimerman and a bunch of his recordings on YouTube. This required moving a pair of ancient Bose 901 speakers into our breakfast nook and the result, perhaps for the first time in my life, tears. (I have put links at the bottom should you wish to join in.)

In between these two tragedies sit Tom Jefferson’s words: “The Pursuit of Happiness.”

Surrounding them all is my two year attempt to explain why humanity is killing the earth, the place that gave it birth.

I think Tom Jefferson sold us a bill of goods. Or perhaps humanity was always like this. Happiness is not joy. Joy is being in touch with the Universe, Each Other, the Glories of Both.

It is the purpose of being.

I think Tom Jefferson, and for that matter, all of us rarely feel the essence of why we exist. I have pondered from the big bang to the internet. Some say god is the answer, but that is only a name for an answer. Some say science is the answer but science does not know why the creation happened.

So I ask what is the best life has to offer and who is stealing it from us and why we gladly participate in the theft.

Each of us has our own idea of what is beautiful, enlightening, fulfilling. There are of course more than I could count. But happiness strikes me as short of what the Creation or Creator intended. I can describe what makes me happy, but words never suffice as a substitute for joy, just as prose is never a substitute for poetry.

So I give you two joys of mine. The photographs were made by me. In the Beethoven 3rd piano concerto the pianist is Krystian Zimerman, the conductor Leonard Bernstein, the orchestra the Vienna Philharmonic and the concert hall the MusicVierien in Vienna. All are on the very short list to be the finest in the world. The result is stunning and joyful. Zimerman is also the soloist in the ballades and the sonata.





(Note the 601 comments on the music and the performance.)


...may be the most important word...

This web site began as theearthistoast.com, was changed to inanothersshoes.com and again changed, this time to caringfortheearth.com. I am not going to change it again, but I have had second and third thoughts.

Over a half century ago while at MIT I studied Albert Einstein’s theorty of relativity. I was amazed that with just pencil and paper he uncovered the most fundamental workings of the universe and he did this by asked the simplest of questions. The one I remembeer is “What doers it mean for two things to happen simultaneously?” in this case when they were moving very fast, close to the speed of light. From just fairly simple calculations with pencil and paper came the most famous equation in the world:
E = mC2. It tells us the energy contained in a piece of matter of mass “m” and therefore told us how powerful a nuclear bomb could be. Or how one could power the world from a few nuclear reactors.

While still working at Bose Corporation I took up fine art landcape photography and because of my experience in finding images in unexpected byt nearby places (usually ordinary roadsides) I came to call my collection The Hidden World of the Nearby. Years later I connected this title with Einsten and the idea that the most important things in the world might be so close to us we might not be aware of them. I have since decided I am right.

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