Bill Nye. He's the Science Guy. Which is about the appropriate thing to call him. As many of you know, he got all combobulated with a Creation Guy last week and it made a lot of people say 'Martha, this country is going to pot'. It's not. But there is a certain amount of faithlessness that's infecting people who are halfway committed to believing that Progress will benefit the Common Man. I say halfway because I can't determine if they believe that Progress is slowing down or that the Common Man doesn't deserve it. Either way they are in dire alarm and they shouldn't be.
Progress doesn't benefit the Common Man, charity does.
Progress benefits the person who initiates it. When I take off the stock carburetor on my jalopy and put on the custom one, I turn it into a hot rod. My hot rod. When I buy a computer and learn to program it, I benefit, not the person staring at me in Starbucks. But enough with the analogies. When starving waifs were dying of the Pox in London and Charles Dickens wrote about it, he benefited not the waifs. When Tycho Brahe observed all the stars in the sky and started cataloguing them one by one, it wasn't the people around him in 16th Century Denmark who were benefitting. When you dedicate your life to improvement then you improve. The common man remains common, the layman lies, the ordinary Joe stays ordinary and all of the backwards, superstitious, ignorant people remain tied to their fate. Every advance in history has taken place amidst total ignorance of it. That doesn't change the truth of it, nor the force of that truth.
So when people mumble and grumble that McDonalds is screwing their minimum wage employees, it may be true, but if you don't work at McDonalds and you're not a minimum wage employee, have the decency to admit that it doesn't hurt you. When Chinese peasants starve, you don't. When African babies die of Dengue, you don't. If those everyday commonplace tragedies dissuade you from studying your maths, you are not contributing to Progress by doing so. When the survey reveals that some ungodly percentage of Americans think astrology is a science, then let them suffer their ignorance. Your job is to remember what Tycho taught you, not to worry that your light gets swallowed up by darkness. Darkness is only the absence of light, remember? Darkness cannot swallow.
I should say a word about empathy. Yes. This is something you may need to be reminded lest you think I have no room in my heart for it. Well, I believe in Christian Charity and goodwill towards others, which is about as moral as any man can be, and I'm not trying to be morally superior to that. Hubris and all, you see. What I oppose is the idea that the presence of foolishness invalidates the existence of wisdom, that the median of all our suffering circumscribes the extent of our joy, that the impoverished oblivion of our destitute invalidate the soaring triumph of our wealth. Most specifically that the jackhead idiocy of our superstition reverses the brilliance of our science.
In a discussion about race I once had, I had to bring up the fact that the bodies at the bottom of the Atlantic are dead. They therefore cannot define the meaning of African American life. They're dead, and the dead are only what we make of them. We the living. We the survivors. We whom evolution favors by the existence of our very lives. We are those who count, not the dead.
So if the foolish will set their own deaths in a matter of time, why should we lament? If the poxed get no love, if the cocksure have no offspring, if the solipsist navel-gazers get no likes, if the loud mouthed suggestion gets no traction, why should we who know better be concerned other than to direct our sympathy and empathy towards the misfortunate?
Foolish people behave as if the truth only has the force of truth amongst those who live in it. Gravity and bacteria do not sleep. Ever. So hang on to life.