Of course, this served the Star Ship Enterprise well in various predicaments, but on occasion at least, it was pointed out that emotions were not only helpful but necessary in negotiating the landscape of beings in and around the Milky Way.
Still the point was well taken. Vulcan had nearly destroyed itself in wars, where passions ran deep. Only in this last ditch effort to stop their own extinction were Vulcansable to transcend to this “higher” plane of existence and thus save themselves. They then began their odyssey of being thosebeings turned to when calm thoughtful thinking was required to save the day. They became in some respects the premiere negotiators and diplomats of the Galaxy.
This point was visited by yours truly and the Contrarian some nights ago, as I responded in my usual holier than thou manner in disclaiming, “You see, I don’t buy this idea that emotions control us. Intelligence trumps emotion.” My example has always been that in my youth, confronted with the panoply of drugs offered round about my college world, I shied away. Why? Not from lack of desire, oh no. But from logic. Some of these things, like LSD for instance had questionable side effects and certainly even more questionable long term effects. Logic dictated they were not safe. And that was pretty much it for me.
The Contrariantook a different path, albeit he has the incentive of Vietnam as a specter in his past to push him forward. Of course I consider the Contrarian one of the smarter people I ‘ve ever known, so his drug usage in his twenties was and remains an anomaly. True, I didn’t know him them, but it still conflicts with the man I pretty well know today.
That got me to thinking about the entire issue of “addictions” and how easily we dismiss our responsibilities. Intelligence tells us one thing, but we claim an inability to fight against our emotional needs. So we smoke, drink, eat, to excess, knowing we are doing severe damage to ourselves. As a old friend and judge used to say to defendants: “you knew it was wrong, but you did it anyway?”
I recognize of course that with some addictions, mainly cigarettes and booze, we actually have changed chemistry that requires these “drugs” after a time. It truly is a disease, and one that is not to be dismissed lightly. Still, nobody much, I don’t think, dies from withdrawing from cigarettes. It may be hellish and for a long time, but it’s doable. I quit last year, it is about a day and 1/2 of physically discomfort, the rest is all mental anguish. I still want to smoke by the way. As recently as last Sunday I saw a partially smoked cigarette on the sidewalk at church and wanted to pick it up and just have a toke or two.
But this is not about addictions per se. It’s the question of where we are going as a species. Are we gaining any control over our passions? Or do they still dictate our lives? It seems the former to me, and its disconcerting to say the least. It seems that about the only way we can control our passions is by making our failures in certain areas so expensive that we refrain rather than face the alternatives. Murder, robbery, and forcible sex carry rather stiff penalties if you hadn’t noticed.
But we have made no such inroads when it comes to controlling our passions as regards elections it seems. Of course, both candidates seem to know this, although one is much better than the other at exploiting our basest emotions. The Republicans long ago realized that emotions do trump logic and they have been exploiting that fact for several election cycles. And the more primitive the emotion, the more effectively it overcomes our better selves it seems.
McCain has run a debased campaign ruled by emotions rather than truth. He appeals to fear and hatred. George Will suggests that McCain tends to see issues in terms of who he can like or dislike intensely. Thus the banking fiasco comes down to hating Secretary Cox, who most find no more to blame for this than anyone else. Others suggests that McCain’s tough talk about Russia comes down to more a visceral hatred for Putin than anything more substantial.
This is all bad enough in a candidate who would be president. His temperament is perhaps the exact opposite of what we now need in this country. Rather, we need the measured thoughtful thinking person to wade through all the complicated rhetoric we are hearing on any given issue.
Similarly, we are told that McCain might well do better in the debates because he tends to short punchy answers filled with passion. Obama, on the other hand, is thoughtful, reserved, not given to the soundbite. This doesn’t play well with American voters we are told.
And that, readers is the crux of the problem. Should the candidates play down to our weakness? Or should they inspire us to loftier and more intellectual thinking? Is Obama dragging us slowly up the hill to evolutionary advancement while McCain panders to our neanderthal beginnings? I think you know the answer.
As I read all these articles, all trying to make their point, impress their audience with something new and bright, I keep hearing the same tired refrain. “Palin is so just like us, a mom trying to juggle five things at once.” “McCain, tells it like it is, those Commies will think twice I tell ya.” “You know I don’t trust that Obama, I’m not sure if he’s really a Christian.”
I’m told that we have yet to see the real ugliness. That is being saved apparently for a blitzkrieg in October. Then we will hear all the resurrected tales of pastors and Muslims and well, so as I am told, down right lies and slander. This from the right wing. I don’t know what the left wing has in store. And we will be asked to respond viscerally and not with our brains once again.
It is the way to explain why so many Americans continue like swine to jump off the cliff into the abyss each election cycle. Why racism, sexism, pretended outrage at non-sexism, dead fetuses, and the like continue to cause people to vote for the wrong person or persons. It explains it. But it sure doesn’t condone it does it? Do folks really enjoy reducing themselves to the lowest common denominator time and time again? Are you proud to be in the ranks of Sean Hannity, Billy O’Reilly and that ilk?
Obama speaks to the best of who we are and can be. He, whatever his personal failings, and no doubt there are some, does ask us to be better than we have been, and to seek to be better than that. Isn’t that what we need and really can be proud of? Are you proud of the bully, or only intimidated into silence by him?
We watch Superman and Spiderman for a reason people. We look up to the hero who makes our chests ache with pride at being a part of this country. This is where such things are possible. This is where people from across the world have come to because they find in us hope for a better tomorrow. This is what Jefferson, Madison, Adams, Franklin, and all those others who forged this nation out of raw material actually meant for us to be. A beacon to the world, a place where ideals were actually practiced, where people actually counted, where compassion for the least of us was central to our decisions.
If we don’t answer this clarion call to reach higher, this time, then damn us, damn us all, as Rev. Wright suggested. We are not worthy of our history. We announce that the evolutionary experiment that is homo sapien sapien is at a dead end. Bring on the next life form. I hope they are more Vulcan than Human. The human was a dismal failure in the end. Oh and by the way, you’re gonna really piss of God too.