Jay Meehan: History is in danger of repeating – the Dark Ages, specifically
“Only once before in our history was there the promise of a brilliant scientific civilization. Beneficiary of the Ionian Awakening, it had its citadel at the Library of Alexandria, where 2,000 years ago the best minds of antiquity established the foundations for the systematic study of mathematics, physics, biology, astronomy, literature, geography and medicine. We build on those foundations still.”
~ Carl Sagan, Cosmos
“When the enemy endeavored to cut off his communication by sea, he was forced to divert that danger by setting fire to his own ships, which, after burning the docks, thence spread on and destroyed the great library.”
~ Plutarch, Life of Caesar
I felt it deep in my bones that November morning. The world as I had come to know it had ended. I had slept fitfully, one nightmarish vision upon the other. Then, at the first hint of returning consciousness, I came upon a beautiful life affirming thought. Maybe it had all been a bad dream. Maybe Trump had not won the election.
Ever so slowly, covers folded back and toes reached for the floor. No doubt about it, the familiar surroundings of my home in Heber were doing their best to comfort my disoriented soul. Before I could even locate the gizmo and snap on the tube, however, the overwhelming dread returned. The inmates would, indeed, be running the asylum.
Not in my wildest, most surrealistic, drug-induced hallucinations, however, did I ever foresee such a monumental worst-case scenario as we have playing out today. Had that been the case, I no doubt would have retreated to the safer-haven of deep self-medication – something just down the block from knocked-out-loaded.
If ever there appeared upon our horizon an embodiment, a personification if you will, of the antithesis of enlightenment and the ethos of the great library of Alexandria as monstrous as Donald Trump and the current Republican Party, it would have had to occur during the Early Middle Ages from the 5th to 10th century AD.
If you haven’t noticed, what history may well define as the “Second Dark Ages” is once again gaining traction. If it took the fall of the Roman Empire to trigger the first, it looks like it took the emergence of the Russian cyber warfare geeks to set this one in motion. Obviously they got the goods on our “leadership.”
And someone must have a few 8×10 glossies of retiring Supreme Court Justice Kennedy in a compromising position to influence the timeline of his departure – playing into Trump’s petroleum-greased mitts as it did. If the congressional resistance can’t figure a way of blocking Judge Kavanaugh’s appointment, you can stick a fork in the age of enlightenment, because it’s done.
With Trump, in continually revolving fits of pique and tantrum, having systematically set fire to his own ships and the blaze rapidly spreading over our civilization as a whole, it’s even money whether Mother Earth will opt to continue its lease with our species. Ignorance blossoms as Alexandria smolders.
If nothing else, at least Carl Sagan played his dust-to-dust card early enough to not have to witness the moral decay and landscape desecration brought on by this current bunch. By pandering to the lowest common denominators amongst us, the cardinal sins of lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy, and pride have been re-designated and celebrated.
Which brings us, of course, to the role of religion in our ever-growing malaise. It’s OK to be dumber than a bag of hammers if your God gives you the go-ahead. And that goes with believing that a star-spangled piece of cloth trumps the right to lawful dissent. If you happen to catch me NOT taking a knee, let me assure you, it’s due to arthritis, not false patriotism.
Making America “great again” appears to involve putting women back in “their place,” handing over the keys to our environmental health to corporate pillagers, defunding education, including the arts, climbing into bed with the NRA, and somehow, although they are easily the most Neanderthal in behavior, convincing white males of their superiority.
Alexandria is burning, and, unless the ship is “righted” in a hurry, it’s going to be the last light you see for awhile.
Jay Meehan is a culture junkie and has been an observer, participant, and chronicler of the Park City and Wasatch County social and political scenes for more than 40 years.
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After a pipe burst in her home, followed by her furnace going out, columnist Teri Orr is grateful to be safe, warm and dry. And amid the global pandemic, she understands she is one of the lucky ones.