On the near-simultaneous reference by Michael Bane and Glenn Reynolds, I ordered a copy of Emergency: This Book Will Save Your Life, by Neil Strauss. I'm about halfway through it at the moment, and I have to say that so far it's been fascinating, especially since Mr. Strauss is about my polar opposite from a political perspective. His interpretation of the world is, naturally, colored by his worldview, but a lot of what he says is pretty interesting. Here are just a few quotes from the book so far:
Our society, which seems so sturdily built out of concrete and custom, is just a temporary resting place, a hotel our civilization checked into a couple hundred years ago and must one day check out of. It's an inevitability tourists can't help but realize when visiting Mayan ruins, Egyptian ruins, Roman ruins. How long will it be before someone is visiting American ruins?Let me add to the list:
One of the most unsettling things about Adolf Hitler is that he wasn't an imperialist, like Napoleon or William McKinley. He wasn't just trying to subjugate other countries. His goal was to cleanse them, to wipe out the so-called weak races and speed the evolution of the human species through the propagation of the Aryan race. And for seven years, he got away with it. Few of the most brutal periods in medieval history - from the sack of Rome to the early Inquisition - were as coldly barbaric as what happened in our supposedly enlightened modern Western civilization.
And though I left the (Holocaust) museum with the reassuring message that the world stood up and said "never again" to genocide, it only took a minute of reflection to realize that it happened again - immediately. In the USSR, Stalin continued to deport, starve, and send to work camps millions of minorities. As the bloody years rolled on, genocides occurred in Bangladesh in 1971, Cambodia in 1975, Rwanda in 1994, and in Bosnia in the mid 1990s.
All these genocides occurred in ordinary worlds where ordinary people went about ordinary business. The Jews were integrated into every aspect of the German social and professional strata before the Holocaust. The entire educated class in Cambodia - teachers, doctors, lawyers, anyone who simply wore glasses - was sent to death camps. And as Philip Gourevitch wrote in his book on the Rwandan massacre, "Neighbors hacked neighbors to death in their workplaces. Doctors killed their patients, and schoolteachers killed their pupils."
So what I ultimately learned at the Holocaust Museum was not "never again," but "again and again and again."
The lesson of Katrina wasn't that the United States can't protect its own. It was that no country can protect its own.
No place is safe, and no government can guarantee the well being of its citizens.
The fears of Americans change over time. In late 1999, we feared the collapse of our computer system. Then it was terrorist attacks. Then it was our own government. Then it was global warming. Today it's economic collapse. Fear, it seems, is like fashion. It changes every season. And even though threats like terrorism persist to this day, we eventually grow bored of worrying about them and turn to something new. Ultimately, though, every fear has the same root: anxiety about the things we take for granted going away.
Nuclear holocaust / nuclear winter
Population bomb / world famine
Peak Oil / energy crisis
Etc., etc., etc.
Although a gun can't do much harm in a locked box in a plane's cargo hold, I had no idea it was this easy to fly with a firearm. It was the first time since I began this journey that I discovered a freedom I didn't know I had, rather than a new restriction.So far it's been an interesting read. Given the path that Strauss has detailed through the first half, I'm a little concerned as to where he's eventually headed, but I'll soldier on to the end and report what I find.
Nearby, a group of (Gunsite) students and instructors were making fun of Democrats, gun control laws, and anyone from California. "There's no constitutional amendment that's been more crippled and regulated than the Second Amendment," a competitive shooter was saying about the right to keep and bear arms.
After eavesdropping a while, I began to realize that all my life I'd been a hypocrite. As a journalist I'd always supported the right to free speech, but been opposed to guns. However, by playing favorites with the amendments, it wasn't the founding father's vision of America I was fighting for - it was just my personal opinion.
Oh, and given that first excerpt, you might find this interesting: Future Present