October 24, 2008
The Risk of ObamaBy Brenda Giguere
In science fiction, it's long been a tempting device for a writer: what would the world be like if such-and-such had happened instead? You can fill in the blank yourself; it can either be a small-thing-turning-into-something-big, such as a fateful meeting between two pivotal people not occurring because someone decided to eat at a different lunch counter. Or you can come at it from the other way using any number of easy-to-grasp iconic forces: what if Hitler hadn't been stopped; what if Castro had been taken out before he could come to power.
Ideas that first emerged as science fiction are increasingly the stuff of quantum theory, those curious, esoteric speculations about time and space. Are there multiple universes of possibilities? Does an infinite set of potential historical variations exist? Whether this is true or not we'll probably never know, but it makes for an interesting train of thought.
Is there a universe somewhere that has the best possible outcome, and how can we get there?
This is, of course, what we're all trying to do. Look around, make the right collective choices that determine our future, one that doesn't look like Soylent Green or Mad Max or Equilibrium or The Terminator. Pack your bag, charge your cell phone, know who your friends are, and head out.
This is the job of historical analysis, but the power of media and the persistence of biased and selective amnesia makes the ongoing job a tough one. It's largely an article of faith, for example, that the New Deal was a great deal by getting our nation through the Great Depression, yet there is ample persuasive evidence that it actually made things far worse in many significant ways. Unfortunately, such claims in opposition to general sentiment can get you taken off the guest list. Marxist dreams wrapped up in modern doublespeak rhetoric are still the same old recipe for disaster, but critical thinking isn't at work when masses of glassy-eyed people make signs with their hands and dream about change.
Years ago I had an acquaintance who, with a completely straight face, explained to me his safety strategy while riding his motorcycle. "Every time I ride," he said, "I try to imagine myself surrounded by a radiant protective white light."
Now that is the audacity of hope. Did I mention he didn't wear a helmet?
Decide. It's from the Latin word "decidere", which means "to cut off". One road, or the other road. There may be more than one universe, but until we develop a hyperlink between the two that allows us to jump ship -- a kind of quantum mulligan if you will -- when you choose your route you'd better think hard and make it count.
Maybe you can't see what lies ahead, but you do everything within your means to gather information, keeping in mind the clock is ticking. You can read the writing on history's blood-stained walls or rely instead on the audacity of hope.
If you're trying to get somewhere, it makes sense to know not only what realm you're heading into but what the best route would be, a viable detour in case the main one becomes compromised by a fallen tree or mudslide, a strategy for your journey that most intelligently reflects all foreseeable variables. You want to make sure there is gas in the tank, the tires are filled, the map is accurate, and the driver isn't asleep or looking at himself in the mirror.
In this age of hyperfast, viscerally-compelling, competing information, a time when lunatics run the asylum right along with the staff, being an astute consumer of information is harder for us average Joes than ever. But this shouldn't discourage us from trying to sort through it all without prejudice as if our lives depended on it.
We need to choose a scenario that legitimately has the best hope of our not only surviving, but thriving, one where the word "liberty" is not just a nostalgic phrase, the one where Jihad terrorism is taken seriously and held in check, the one where the harder you work, the more you can do for yourself, your family, and your community.
Are Americans going to try and surround themselves with a "radiant white light" while cheering for a messiah who appeared out of left field? From economic policy to foreign policy it's a scenario that, if history teaches us anything, will fare poorly, possibly even tragically. And there won't be a chance to go back, to pick another scenario and begin those grim years over again.
Do the math, calculate the odds, say a prayer, choose your universe. And hopefully I'll see you all in one piece on the other side.
Brenda Giguere is the proprietor of the website Hollywood Does Conservative.