The folly of Putin’s conceits

There has been widespread condemnation of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. 

Reflections of our Pale Blue Dot, a resplendent planet floating majestically in the dark void of space, reveals the folly of Putin’s conceits. 

Not Apocalypse Now, but Enlightenment Now.

Enlightenment Now is a book by cognitive psychologist Steven Pinker that painstakingly details how life, health, prosperity, safety, peace, knowledge, and even happiness have trended upward. He identifies reason, science and humanism as core enlightenment values that have contributed to the betterment of the human condition.   

They are values that flourish when objective self-awareness is associated with personal and social control

Unfortunately, nuclear-armed Russia is misled by a sociopath who lacks self-awareness and empathy. Putin doesn’t consider the humaneness of his actions, but treats both his own troops and targets with impersonal disdain.  As ex-heavyweight boxing champ Vladimir Klitckso said, he wants Ukrainian land but not Ukrainians. 

Clearly, Putin is so cut off from reality that he is not integrating information to achieve enhanced consciousness -- instead, he’s being advised by sycophants who contort reality to avoid incurring his wrath.  Harboring a perverted view of geopolitical history, he exhibits demon-like impulses such as dominance, revenge (against the 2014 Ukrainian Revolution of Dignity and ouster of pro-Russian Yanukovych) and ideology that justifies violence in the pursuit of unlimited good.  Or Armageddon, with miscalculation.

In his other best-selling book, Better Angels of Our Nature, Pinker reveals the overall downtrend in violence worldwide.  Nevertheless, he notes that a further decline is not inevitable, but is contingent on forces harnessing our better motivations such as empathy, self-control, morality, and reason.  None of those ideals flourish in the Kremlin, but reflections of one of the most astonishing astronomy images ever captured may facilitate a stream of consciousness.  First, clean house…

Biden made a mess pronouncing the word 'kleptocracy,' but previously hinted at a truth (albeit with bad timing) about the need for Russian regime change. A recommitment to glasnost, supported by disaffected oligarchs like Roman Abramovich (who had to give up world-renowned soccer club Chelsea F.C.) will inject the light of consciousness to disinfect Putin’s putrid inner sanctums.  

Glasnost can lead to enlightenment that promotes commerce (makes no sense in harming someone want to do business with); open and honest communication, (which engenders empathy); and rational problem-solving.  That Putin’s Russia is remiss on all fronts is exemplified by their popular T.V. program simulating nuking Europe .  That’s fraught communication based on irrational thinking -- and not very conducive to commerce, either. 

There are not many human endeavors more enlightening than the study of astronomy, which can be one of the most profound and humbling pursuits.  The next time Putin, Sergei Lavrov, or Dmitry Medvedev hint at nuclear escalation, someone should show them this picture of planet Earth.  In 1990, as the Voyager 1 space probe trekked towards the edges of our solar system, Carl Sagan had an inspiration:  He requested NASA to turn it around and take a “family portrait of the Solar System.” 

It was a maneuver, not so much for scientific reasons, as for posterity and perspective.  At about 4 billion miles away from us in February 1990, the family portrait is awe-inspiring as it captures Earth as a tiny point of light, what Sagan called “The Pale Blue Dot of Earth.”  A dot that Putin and his irrational accomplices threaten to destroy due to the folly of their conceits.

Putin is flooding Ukraine with rivers of blood for a tiny pixel on that tiny dot, floating so majestically in the enveloping dark void of space.  Here are Carl Sagan’s haunting musings about it:

“The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds.

Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.

There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we've ever known.”

So insightful.  So prescient.  To the Earth’s detriment, 21st Century Russia is misled by someone consumed with hubris and imagined self-importance.  Someone riddled with such delusion and hatred that he’s capable of perpetrating endless cruelties on a corner of the pixel known as Ukraine.

The rivers of blood are not worth a tiny fraction of a dot. Russia itself is going to be diminished in terms of status, power, and economy.  Putin’s folly has even strengthened NATO’s resolve, and now Sweden and Finland are considering alliance options.   I’m sure Russian people, who already occupy a large portion of our pixel, don’t appreciate that their economy struggling, with few goods on the shelves.

Here’s NASA’s remastered image of the classic family portrait. The pixel is embedded in glorious sunlight -- it extends the light of consciousness.  It should be displayed conspicuously in the Kremlin for it might induce streams of enlightened consciousness.

Reflections of our resplendent planet floating majestically in the dark void of space may even reveal their folly.  After all that our anthropic Universe, Galaxy, and Solar System have given us, the very constants of nature and life, it is  insane to even threaten to nuke Earth into a hellish, Mars-like red dot for the sake of a tiny corner of that pixel.

Not Apocalypse Now; Enlightenment Now.

Image: Pixabay / Pixabay License


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