A Fevered Brain Sets the World On Fire

Nobody knows what’s really going on, or which events are important and which are trivial. We only learn these things in retrospect. When they’re happening, we can’t see the forest for the trees.

Feelings of urgency rarely lead to good decisions. Maybe once we could trust Walter Cronkite to tell us the news, but now we are awash in a million websites, most of which are written by people no more knowledgeable or literate than ourselves.

Our mental state is a choice. We can allow our minds to be full of schemes, resentments, tangled desires, contradictory impulses…or we can simply choose not to listen to all that. Say “thank you for sharing” and then move on.

It seems like America is the monkey mind personified as of late. Blame and boasting dominate. Domination is the goal. It’s a fight for our very life, so there’s no holding back. Somebody must be utterly destroyed.

This would be funny or curious if the stakes weren’t real. The rest of the world is as queasy as we are. Stock and precious metal markets are uncertain, gyrating wildly. The poor stand to lose a lot. The most vulnerable may suffer the most.

The first world war began with the assassination of a relatively minor head of state in Bosnia. Nobody at that time could have predicted it would lead to the deaths of 17 million people.

Not much good comes from chaos. Sure, it shakes things up, but the net result is rarely favorable. The Quakers and other pacifists are right when they say that violence in thought and speech leads to actual violence. It begins with naming. The only way we can kill the children of our enemies is to name them first as “the enemy.” They aren’t Vietnamese women and children, they’re Viet Cong. We weren’t bombing the people of Laos, we were stopping supply lines along the Ho Chi Minh trail. All it takes is that simple shift in consciousness, and killingĀ becomes not only permissible butĀ a patriotic act.


here is a link to a recording of the author reading this essay