Geoscience Reference
In-Depth Information
descends into celebrating aggression for its own sake, but each champi-
ons the notion that it is acceptable to frighten or threaten other people
for the purpose of caring for one's child. 138
These movies deserve credit for telling a certain truth about American
culture. They cast light on the blind spot in our political thinking, show-
ing that we don't give much credence to the notion that we all benefit
from arrangements of mutual self-interest. Self-interest turns into some-
thing much uglier when children are at stake: it turns out that the child is
so sacred that his or her well-being is more important than the interests
of others. In comparison to the child, social relations are so much chaff to
be tossed into the wind. In daily life, this atitude is expressed in the will-
ingness of many of us to buy the biggest, baddest SUV we can find to pro-
tect our kids from harm. If we get in a crash, it's the other guy who will suf-
fer, not us. We may even imagine that we show love for our kids precisely
through this willingness to make sure that other people will die first. But
because in doing so we are potentially harming others to protect those
we choose to bring into the world, our atitude reveals that we will give
up others for the sake of our own priorities. What's worse, the logic of
this sort of selfishness collapses very quickly. When the SUV's emissions
help destroy the biosphere, it's not just the other guy's biosphere that will
go. What then? We may think we're looking out for our own interests by
driving the biggest, safest vehicle on the roads, but in the long run we're
destroying our own lives and those of our children, too. Ultimately, this
sort of atitude reveals that strange paradox: a self-destructive selfishness.
When we insist on our abstract liberties, on our right to destroy, we are
also choosing to destroy ourselves and those we love.
his general atitude has taken on a kinder, gentler form in Cormac
McCarthy's novel he Road . 139 This novel suggests that it is a praiseworthy
endeavor for a father to guide his son through a world bereft of any form
of life and devoid of any kind of food except for canned goods stored here
or there in ruined dwellings—or murdered human beings. Such a world
promises no future for any living thing, yet we are asked to admire the
effort of raising the son and passing him down to a nonexistent future.
Instead of suggesting that it might be acceptable to torch the world for
the sake of the son, as violent selfishness would have it, this story suggests
that even if the world has already been torched, we should still bear and
Search WWH ::

Custom Search