Monthly Archives: July 2015

Abortion

Biology does not make a human, only a human being makes a human. It is the work of a mother. It takes her some two years after BIOLOGY has brought her and her new-born to the starting line.

Biology is prodigiously wasteful. It scatters sperm by the millions and eggs by the hundreds. It aborts probably a third of pregnancies. It will waste two billion years reproducing only bacteria. It runs a lottery, ceaselessly shuffling, kept in business by the dying of its sun. Whether bacteria or a multi-celled conceptual product – another half-billion years of shuffling – biology just keeps rolling along. Timeless.

It paid no heed, of course, when out of its timeless shuffling fell a card enabling whoever scooped it up the power to enter Time!

“Not so fast, Buster. It can collect its prize only if someone takes the time.”

True. A human mother has to give years of her precious, limited time, to her baby, or, as Rene Spitz learned 70 years ago, 70% to 100% of orphans in Foundling homes, throughout the Western world, died within two years. The survivors were runts, the size of a capybara.

In the journal Science, August 15th, 2014, scientists report on the 170,000 Romanian children reared in orphanages under “zero parenting – Caregivers came and went in three shifts…A child might come in contact with 17 caretakers in a single week.” The children exhibited empty motions, like “the pacing of a tiger or elephant in the zoo.” What the scientists found “creepiest” is that “in an environment where children are not being attended to, there is this kind of dead silence…They wind up coming to the emergency room when they’re five years old and weigh 20 pounds.”

New-borns discovered two years later, aborted! or five years later,
aborted! break the heart. They had entered human history, but no one gifted them the time – man’s most precious resource – to tell their story.

No clock has started for a conceptual product aborted at six to nine months. It has not left the timeless shufflings of biology.

It is extremely difficult to recognize this truth. But let it be shouted: recognition matters to only one person – a pregnant woman has to decide whether to give years of her precious time to enable a new-born enter the human story. The later an abortion, the more terrible.

It is her decision alone. The State must abide her command.

The Genius of Thomas Kuhn

On a broad canvas, three time periods since the advent of agriculture, some 10,000 years ago, valued the INDIVIDUAL as a member of the Group. Until then, The Group spent all its energy on survival. Couldn’t afford a peep from any single member. The three time periods:

The Age of Pericles, Fifth Century BCE;

The Age of the Roman Republic, some four centuries, ending with Octavius transmogrifying into Caesar Augustus, the first of the Roman emperors;

The magnificent third period, twelve hundred years after the first Caesar, with the signing of the Magna Carta, “the greatest constitutional document of all time – the foundation of the freedom of the individual against the arbitrary authority of the despot.”

Kuhn’s deepest insight is that a paradigm change can only be launched by the unfathomable powers of a single mind. A group has no powers of originality. Genius exists in the singular. We would thus expect bursts of creativity in the arts and sciences when the political forces support the individual. That’s exactly what happened during each period, and on an unimaginable scale in the centuries after Runnymede, 1215 AD.

In 1440 A.D, a genius by the name of Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press. Within 50 years, moveable type went viral, his machines cranking out 3,600 pages a day from one end of Europe to the other. The voice of the individual could now be heard around the world. The names tumble out. Martin Luther, Machiavelli, Shakespeare, Francis Bacon, Galileo, John Locke, Thomas Hobbes. – all the way to the American Constitutional Convention in 1787. By 1791, documented by the Bill of Rights, the individual had achieved political parity with the group. It happened in 10,000 years. The journey from Homo erectus to Chauvet took 2.8 million.

In a mere few hundred years, we changed our relationship to our planet. We went from Infinite Sustainability as hunter-gatherers to Finite Magnificence – life in the Western world the last century. No other time in history has had it so good; maybe not Rock-Candy Mountain as Burl Ives imagined, but close, exactly as Francis Bacon prophesied scientific empiricism would take the race in 1620.

Thomas Kuhn had it right. That three pound human brain – unleash its full powers and it’ll devise a Spelling Bee called DNA, or demonstrate e equals mc square over Hiroshima. I listened to David McCullough on the Jon Stewart Show last night talking about the Wright Brothers – that same three pounder powered by two bicycle mechanics in Palookaville! Genius cleanses the doors of perception, unleashing the power of The Group. Exactly 112 years after Kitty Hawk, the first flight some 200 feet, The Group flew three billion miles to Pluto.

I also heard President Obama yesterday. He too had it right. Submission by The Group to Consensus describes the political life of hominids throughout uncounted ages. It’s doing what comes naturally for every group, as congenial as patriotism, as easily set roaring as FAN-atics at a soccer game. I assume that throughout Deep Time, no hominid tribe had enough ENERGY to invest consensus in an individual. No kings. No emperors. No tyrants. The Group ueber alles. That continues today in life-long commitment to one political party. But consensus, as the group expanded, became invested also in one individual, not in Kuhn’s sense, but wrapped in omnipotence. Obama ventured a roll-call of the leaders in Africa. Many have stayed in power for decades, in violation of their constitution. They rig the election process to flaunt the lie of Submission by The Group to Consensus. Or take the current series of articles in the New York Times on the destruction of The Voting Rights Act of 1965, the Republicans claiming authority for their vandalism by a consensus of states.

Can Freud help us out?

The Problem of Authority

I listened to President Obama speak in Kenya yesterday and today in Ethiopia. He spoke with immense power, that is, with authority. I kept hearing the question the Pharisees asked Jesus, “By what authority doest thou these things” – preach a new message and perform, supposedly, miracles? Obama took great care answering the Pharisees of this world, establishing with elegant care his authority, issue by issue. Because he did so, his words rang across Africa like a blast from Gabriel’s trumpet.

Obama claims we’re one species, that unless we recognize ourselves in the other person, we’re missing a profound truth. By what authority does he make such a claim? He had seen Lucy! that very day! our 3.3 million year old ancestor, her skeletal remains foumd in Ethiopia! However branched the hominid tree subsequent to Lucy, she is the ancestor of us all. He referred to the authority of evolution – across the Dark Continent thundering Darwin.

The transfer of political power? By what authority should rulers transfer power peacefully? How ’bout George Washington and Mandela? How ’bout himself? African newspapers hailed him as “The Most Powerful Man in the World.” Well, he’ll settle for being a pretty good President, loves the job, has all kinds of projects unfinished. When all is said and done, however, every government needs fresh ideas, new leaders. He’s in fact just another bozo, looking forward to retirement. Time with the family. Walks. There’s geologic evolution, there’s human evolution, and each generation gets its whack. He named the nations in Africa who had set up democratic governments – the specificity of naming, the incomparable authority of facts, facts, facts. “No one is above the law. Not even a President. Transfer power peacefully. Don’t change the rule on term limits in the middle of things.”

And what’s this madness towards women, crippling Africa? Mutilating the genitals of girls? “You have a team and play only half your players! That’s stupid!” He’s speaking with the authority of an African-American, a Kenyan-American. He’s talking with the authority as member of the Tribe. (The last time he used “Stupid” led to a “beer summit” with a stupid cop who had arrested Professor Gates, a respected black scholar at Princeton for breaking into his own home! Republicans raised such a hue and cry about his labeling the arrest “stupid,” Barack and Joe had to waste an evening with the cop. Republicans spent the last seven years trying to destroy Obama’s authority. Now they don’t know what to do with Trump’s authority.)

Obama spoke at great length about the equal status of women. He has two daughters. He wants them to have the same advantages as any two sons. He spoke of Michelle. He spoke with the authority of a devoted father and husband.

When he talked of corruption, so damaging to African politics, he started with the authority of a citizen of Chicago, you know, where that fella’ Al Capone plied his trade. It’s a problem known to every country. And Africa is no different, and just as damaged by it. It requires relentless attention. He did not, in any way, parade American exceptionalism.

By the authority of his language, his breadth, his humor, his fundamental humility, Obama for the umteenth time demonstrated his magnificent exceptionalism.

I have not blogged since June 14th. By what authority?

“Summertime, and the livin’ is easy.”