Short answer: shut the fuck up.
Slightly longer answer: I think William Wordsworth was on to something when he lambasted “modern” materialism in his 1802 sonnet, The World Is Too Much With Us. He begins:
The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;
Little we see in nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
Sound familiar? This was written over 200 years ago! What could he have possibly experienced in the English countryside two full years before the invention of the steam train to nail modern society so presciently? If he could only see us now. It bares the argument it just might be human nature, and not the air-conditioned nightmare itself, that is to blame for our current state of disassociation. What have we sold our connection to the earth and to each other for? Thirty pieces of silver? Sixteen dollars worth of colored beads? A handful of magic beans?
The Sea that bares her bosom to the moon,
The winds that will be howling at all hours,
And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers,
For this, for everything, we are out of tune;
This quatrain really freaked me out considering the horror show that is currently playing out in the Gulf of Mexico. To me, the image of the sea as a closed flower chillingly augurs the huge deoxygenated dead zones in the Gulf that we now have to look forward to. We are dangerously out of tune with nature, and I fear we are about to get our asses smacked like misbehaving children if we don’t begin to pay attention.
It moves us not.—Great God! I’d rather be
A pagan suckled in a creed outworn;
So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
“It moves us not.” … that’s a pretty accurate read of our reaction to just about anything. Even huge life-changing events recede too quickly into the background noise of modern life. Have you thought about whether or not New Orleans has been rebuilt lately? How about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan; how are those shaping up? Are we still seeding the earth with depleted uranium? Why?
We, as individuals, as a society, and as a species, need to relearn how to listen to each other as well. Our political process has become nothing more than a Punch and Judy puppet show, with lobbyists, pundits, and the media railing in from the sidelines. What ever happened to the idea of informed, rational debate that was supposed to be the driving force behind our democracy? Watch C-SPAN sometime if you can stomach it. Every public representative, when they can be bothered to show up at all, vomits up party rhetoric and invokes the will of corporate interests.
Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;
Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;
Or hear old Triton blow his wreathéd horn.
By the time he hits the sestet, Wordsworth has sensed the futility of redressing our Christian God for assistance; he/she/it has bigger fish to fry. He yearns for the more interactive gods of yesteryear, those that might poke their heads in once and awhile and call down thunder. How screwed would we be if, let’s say, Poseidon came on the scene, saying, “OK, thumb monkeys, now I’ve had enough.”
Now if I were a benevolent all-knowing deity, I would have been a little miffed when the President of the United States asked the country to pray for a solution to the Gulf disaster. God, or nature, or whatever, has already given us the tools that we need to survive on Earth, and we repeatedly choose not to use them. We were given rationality; we know instinctively that we can’t keep punching holes in the center of the earth, yet we wring our hands when the government suggests the too little/too late idea of a temporary moratorium on drilling in the Gulf of Mexico! How myopic do you we have to be to realize that if your house is on fire, you don’t go turn on the stove?
The second, and more important tool that our creator slipped us is free will. We know that we are seriously out of balance with this world; if we wanted to change, there is not a power on Earth that could stop us. We don’t change because we don’t want to; we don’t want to because we don’t listen; we don’t listen because we don’t ever shut the fuck up.
I’m going to start now.