Saturday, September 01, 2012

More, not less, evolution

I sent a knee-high plastic contraption that looked like this to the landfill yesterday after falling over it one too many times --- but not without some agonizing. By now I figure it's been dumped in that big hole northeast of Attica where our garbage goes and will just sit there largely intact for eternity. Plastic has a bad habit of not decomposing.

The thing is, it seemed like a good idea at the time, a cheap way to organize the garden hose between waterings and keep it out of the way. Problem was, it didn't work. It was too lightweight, its water connections always were loose, it took more time to reel in the hose that it did to coil it and much of the year it just sat in the garage waiting to be tripped over.

And I hadn't used the hose reeled onto it for years. It was simpler to fill a watering can and walk around. So now it's gone (although "gone" is relative; life is transitory but plastic goes on for ever). The hose is snaking around the house again and it took about four minutes the other day to do the watering that, with a can, had been taking 20 minutes.

I got to thinking about this while listing to a NPR report on the recent GOP convention yesterday evening. "It's all about jobs," a sampling of delegates told the reporter. Could have fooled me, but I suppose there will be a similar theme at the upcoming Democratic gathering.

I'm 100 percent for jobs. But exactly what kind of jobs are we talking about here? Minimum-wage clerks selling more unnecessary and badly designed plastic things manufactured in China that in a year or two after purchase, if not sooner, will be headed for the landfill? Answers please.

This video of Science Guy Bill Nye has been making the rounds, too --- and caught my eye. What he's doing here is debunking the creationist myth popular in the United States that some plastic god created the earth and all that's in it, slam-bam-thank-you-ma'am, in six days and has been sitting around on his butt ever since being cranky, figuring out who to smite. The argument in some circles that evolution is the myth, rather than Genesis-based creationism, can be hazardous to the mental development of children, Nye argues.

We're not talking here about the common sense approach most reasonable Christians take --- that some sort of intelligent creator used a variety of methods, including evolution, to come up with us and the wonders that surround us. There's nothing really wrong with that, so long as the theory mitigates magic thinking with the imperative to be good stewards.

But we're deeply into magic thinking everywhere these days, especially in politics --- like "it's all about jobs," when it really isn't. What it is all about, is figuring out how to work together to care for the earth and each other and retool unsustainable economies into sustainable ones. But how in the world do we convince everyone to take a deep breath, relax and get on with it. Evolution, maybe?

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