In search of the parallel universe?
After reading FB posts by friends and family on the tragic killing spree in Sandy Hook, CT, which follows last month’s equally tragic events of Hurricane Sandy, I was stuck by a series of connections. It is hard to understand how and why these horrible events occur, unless you understand that in the overlap of the parallel universes that we live in, oftentimes the outcome is not very good. The recent U.S. presidential election campaign, and its provides a momentary glimpse into existence and intersection of these two very different and contending universes.
In one universe, a majority of rational, thinking people voted for a moderate, intelligent, educated and cultured man. He ran on a pledge to continue to grow the U.S. economy by investing in education, infrastructure, scientific research, transportation and cleaner energy development, among other things. A majority of young people, women, minorities, city dwellers, gays, middle class, unionized workers, intellectuals, white people, and other distinct groups voted for him in large numbers.
A sizable minority of Protestant fundamentalists, older white people, NRA supporters, large business owners, and residents of the former slave states, Mormons, Texans, and others voted for the other candidate. (This is a broad simplification.)
The connection rests in the fact ( either polling, statements, actions) that most of the second group hold profound doubts about the reality of science, on which understanding of climate change, sexuality, human behavior, the economy, and physical health rests. More importantly, more people in the second group harbor and evidence serious fear of many people in the first group. That fear is utilized by a very small group of very conservative religious “leaders”, corporate business owners (including gun manufacturers and dealers), and ultra conservative politicians, to foster a passionate campaign for the “right to bear arms.”
As a result, more than nearly any other country, the United States is awash in handguns and assault rifles. You can buy these weapons in nearly unrestricted manner and number in local mega-malls, strip malls, “mom and pop” gun stores, and at gun “fairs.” While I have not been to Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, and parts of Africa, I have read that it is just as easy to obtain all manner of weaponry in local markets there as well.
The U.S. certainly has its share of unstable people, who also exist in just about every other country. However, in the U.S. their unrestricted ability to easily obtain pistols, assault weapons and ammunition, clearly amplifies their destructiveness, as recent shootings give tragic evidence.
Most people in the first universe would accept and even welcome a reasonable national policy that tightens the regulation and use of handguns, automatic weapons and ammunition. Most people in the second universe fervently oppose any restriction on the use or sale of such weaponry.
Also, most people in the first universe accept the idea that the world’s climate is changing, with clearly damaging impacts on people, all manner of animal and insect species, and the physical makeup of the earth. These catastrophic changes are a direct result of human activity, principally by the nearly unrestricted increase in carbon pollution. Most people in the alternative universe deny this scientific reality and its conclusions since they generally deny the fundamental principles of science, and some even the idea of a non-Bible based reality. As a result, very little will probably be done to begin the long effort to arrest the harmful environmental changes that are occurring to the earth as a result of human action (or inaction).
And to the degree that an overall minority of the voting population (which probably represents the same percentage in the overall adult population) continues to control most of the state legislatures in the country, due to years of voter district re-drawing (“jerrymandering”), they appear to have no trouble imposing their concept of reality on the majority. In fact, they consider themselves quite clever in doing so and will continue to do so. To them this behavior is normal and sensible.
They also promote a thought process which reverses reality so that those impacted by their decisions are viewed as the “dominators,” while they are viewed as the victims. So while they impose their concepts of “gun freedom,” and “right to life,” and “right to work,” and “sanctity of marriage” on the majority, they are quick to label any effort by the actual and growing majority to enact different policies as “imposition” of some form of liberal “sharia law.”
Back to where this began. We are living in a very unstable time. This is largely a result of sweeping changes in world demographics, economic inequality and instability, political polarization, instantaneous communications, and the steady rise of religious based politics and philosophies, of all which gives rise to contrasting views of reality co-existing in the same place and time.
When I thought about the connections between the recent twin tragedies, I simply plugged in those seemingly unconnected thoughts to my Google browser (no product endorsement intended) and discovered several other bloggers who shared remarkably similar thoughts. The parallel universes concept has validity. Listed below are two very interesting thoughts on its existence. One is a quick video of an elected Congressman from the parallel universe. He is painfully real. The other has a great explanation of the ongoing rise of the parallel universe in the U.S. and its impact on all of us.
By the way, the term “parallel universe” was referred to by a spokesman for General Motors (quite a real and generally conservative company) during the recent presidential campaign as the location from which several manipulative and completely erroneous statements from Mitt Romney originated.
I have also included a link to a recent Paul Krugman op-ed in which his closing lines offer a somewhat chilling thought about what we all are facing in the next few years, given the dominance of the parallel universe on U.S. politics. While I don’t agree with Mr. Krugman on the withering away of the parallel universe, it’s evident that his conclusion is right (I purposely did not use “dead on” out of respect for the recent victims of the thoughts and policies of the parallel universe.)