What do any of us know about the beginning of time?
We don’t yet have the ability to coordinate the wisdom of our bellybuttons with the knowledge of the Hubble Space Telescope. The origin and the limits. But we are busy denying origin, or making up stories to be obeyed., to uphold ideas of virtues, to keep the positions of this world of people in order.
To pursue the truth of ones own bellybutton leads to an unspeakable truth. You want to say, but you can’t say it. And you definitely can’t write it. You can only say around the thing, you can’t say the thing itself.
Symbols intervene, like a Burning Bush to mediate a vision of the divine. And then we are left with the unspeakable, and all these words running over it. Everybody says so much bullshit in every age in every without saying very much at all ever. It’s all obviously irrelevant. Imagine this: There are 240 known asteroids over 1km in diameter which cross the path of our planet. (The largest of these is Sisyphus, carrying over 10km of rock that never seems to leak from his sieve.) Scientists estimate that there are over 2000 such asteroids circling our sun and crossing paths with the planet. While statistically unlikely, each one has of these asteroids has apocalyptic power. An asteroid reaching the earth creates a crater 10-20 times the size of its diameter. The dust from such an impact would fill the sky, blocking out the light of the sun, for years. Its quite possible that they would annihilate most life on planet earth. Really, all our glories and worries are irrelevant in the face of this.
How did I get on this subject?
Oh yes, I was talking about coordinating the wisdom of our bellybuttons with the knowledge of the Hubble Space Telescope. Here’s how to put it into action. Try this game next time one of those bill collectors calls you to remind you about that credit card bill. This game is all about shock and awareness of scale. Tell him, or her, whatever the case may be, that within our solar system there are TWO-THOUSAND asteroids with a diameter of greater than 1 kilometer and a path that crosses Earth’s orbit. You might want to establish for them just how big a kilometer is, like by saying “imagine that three thousand people stood in a queue: that’s about a kilometer.
Be very calm. Don’t make them afraid. You don’t want to make them afraid too soon. Fear is very powerful, like nuclear weapons, so be careful with fear. Numbers and symbols are also powerful. Abstract numbers and statistics are probably the best means to dazzle the sort of person who accepts a job making collection calls.
Mystify them with numbers! And butter them up for the cold fact that – at any second! – any one of these asteroids could come along and… and…
Wipe out most life on planet earth. Fill the bill collector with a holy vision of the ephemerality of everything they thought was enduring, the inconsequentiality of everything they had deemed significant. And when they are sufficiently awed, let them breath. Breath is also powerful.
Point out that the chances of one of these asteroids colliding with the Earth is astronomically minuscule. Then hit them again and again. The possibility is minuscule, yes, really miniscule. Really nothing at all compared to the chances, say, that China will flood the capital markets with dollar reserves, causing a currency crash that toss the American way of life into the dustbin…
Miniscule! Nothing at all compared to the chances that India or Pakistan, in a moment of paranoia, might fire a nuclear missile at each other’s capitals, causing other nations to get in on the big endgame, mutually assured destruction.
All bets would be off, and no one would want to be left out of the last game. The bombs fall everywhere and the Saints come marching in.
Tell him, “You understand, sir, (or ma’am, whatever the case may be) that there is a much, much greater chance of that happening than there is of a large asteroid colliding with the Earth.”
“But, the chances of this are produced by each of every one of us, a factor of our fear and distrust, multiplied by our capacity for destruction. We can diminish, even eliminate, this possibility. The problem is fear.”
Now you have to let them speak. Ask them about their workplace. Ask them about their commute. Ask them about their own bills. Ask them about their daily lives. Ask them about what matters.
Do they think the whole world depends upon them? Do they sacrifice the present for something they anticipate?
Do they have friends? Do they love?
By means of love, guide the bill collector into quitting their job and dedicating themselves to more worthwhile work like growing garlic or baking bread or memorizing poems. If enough of us did this, eventually no one would ever work as a bill collector, and this Earth would become anew.
The preceding was an excerpt from
Everybody says the same bullshit in all lands and through all ages.
(Full script available here.)