I present the last half of his column, since the first half is about conspiracy theories and coincidence.
Jon Carroll today:
But the main question I have about the Sept. 11 conspiracy is -- why bother? We have a conspiracy to undermine the Constitution of the United States. It's in the papers; it requires no knowledge of engineering. We have a conspiracy to secretly spy on citizens of the United States. That's in the papers too. There was a conspiracy to steal the 2000 presidential election, a conspiracy that involved all three branches of government, and that's out there too.
We have plenty of conspiracies to worry about. We have a whole government that prefers to act in secret, that prefers to use conspiracy as its dominant tactical mode. These conspiracies have been pointed out, and distinguished men and women have risked their reputations to fight the imperial presidency, and so far: not much luck. The country seems to be catching on, but that may not matter, because the electoral process has been so badly jimmied around that the party in power may remain the party in power no matter what. Or, equally plausibly, politicians follow the money, so we are being governed by plutocrats not very well hidden behind the curtain, so which political party wins does not make a difference. Or maybe it's not that hopeless. Don't know. Might be worth spending a lot of time thinking about it, instead of, you know, the other thing.
I think we enjoy diverting ourselves. I think we want to avoid thinking about the hard problems. Medicare: hard problem. Influenza pandemic: hard problem. Poverty, infant mortality, global warming, decline of biodiversity, decline of education, dead forests, dead oceans, malaria, drought, the rise of China, the descent of Africa -- they're all bewildering and scary. We can't get a handle on them, and we're not sure that a handle even exists, and yet we know, we know, that someone ought to start paying attention.
With great wealth comes great responsibility. In relative terms, everyone reading these words has great wealth. We are the masters of the universe; we can think globally and act locally; as near as I can figure out, that's our job just now. Recreational dot-connecting really doesn't cut it. Looking for fun? Play canasta.
When the Franco-Prussian War broke out, Flaubert wrote: "Whatever happens, we shall remain stupid." Maybe; it would be pretty to think that something else might also be true.