Wednesday, May 22, 2013

On Reaping What We've Sown

It's been rather cold and rainy in the Portland metro area lately.  However, that wasn't the case at the beginning of May, when we were subjected to daytime temperatures that were 20 degrees above seasonal averages for several days.  That was also when carbon dioxide levels in the earth's atmosphere exceeded 400 parts per million for the first time in history.  The present Portland coldness and wetness can be viewed as a merciful yet extremely temporary respite from the consequences of our actions.

Yet other parts of the United States are not so lucky.  I am thinking of the recent massive Oklahoma tornado.  I am also thinking of the doofus responses to the tornado on the part of some of the elected officials and many of the citizens of Oklahoma, not to mention some of the media talking heads who remain constitutionally unable to see the link between atmospheric pollution and an increasingly menacing climate.  Republican Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin, who denies anthropogenic climate change, urged her citizens to pray to God for rain in 2011 in response to record heat and drought in her state.  Now she finds herself "praying" to Washington for federal dollars to rebuild some of the devastated parts of Oklahoma.  I wonder if she has given up on prayer to God.  Such a development wouldn't be surprising, as she is typical of a long list of Republican, conservative darlings of the political wing of American evangelicalism (which is really just Constantinianism): loudly proclaiming their commitment to Biblical morality, especially in sexual matters, yet unable to walk the talk in their own personal lives.  In this regard, she is rather like Mark Sanford.

Then there's Republican Oklahoma Senator James Inhofe, who opposed Federal aid for the victims of Hurricane Sandy, yet is appealing to President Obama for aid for the victims of the Oklahoma tornado, saying that their situation is "totally different" from that of the victims of Sandy.  How is that so?  In both cases, a big storm came with big winds which huffed and puffed and blew a bunch of houses down.  Senator Inhofe, what do you like about the Oklahoma victims that you don't like about the Sandy victims?  Inhofe is also a staunch climate change denier and a darling of American conservative Constantinians evangelicals .

I am thinking of all of this in the light of a book I recently received, Willful Blindness: Why We Ignore The Obvious At Our Peril, by Margaret Heffernan.  (That book has been a good read, by the way.)  When people willfully blind themselves, perhaps there comes a point when they become irreversibly blind.  As the ruin starts to fall around us, let's all have an eye-gouging party; why not?  But before Mary Fallin gouges her eyes out, she should read the part in the Good Book where God promises that whatever a person sows, that he will also reap.

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