It's hard to go from hope, faith and, well, a smidgen of charity, to nothing. But that's what happens when I see a long line of cars stuck in traffic at rush hour, each auto with one passenger, the driver.
In vain the 1972 U.N. Conference on the Human Environment in Stockholm, the first of its kind, proclaimed:
The non-renewable resources of the earth must be employed in such a way as to guard against the danger of their future exhaustion and to ensure that benefits from such employment are shared by all mankind.
Back then, I believed in God, goodness, and a better world of more justly apportioned resources.
Still, I had some reason to find unintentional humor in such conferences. My father, who attended the Stockholm conference, failed to see the irony in his using that very trip to purchase a brand-new blue Saab in Sweden, crowing that he did so at some obscure tax advantage.
Thirty-four years later, today, I find myself walking to a crosstown thoroughfare on the way to the Metro and before me is a long, long line of sportscars, SUVs, and other vehicles, most carrying one passenger, the driver.
Most scientists agree that between 2010 and 2020 the world's supply of petroleum will fall below international demand. This was more or less known in 1972. The predictions then were that it would happen by 2005 or 2010.
Malthusian pessimism errs somewhat, but we never seem to get the point, anyway.
Blithely we believe we can commute in our pollute-mobiles one-by-one, as our parents did 30 years ago, while radical theofascists, who long for 1922 or 1902 rather than 1972, push us to war, famine, pestilence, and death.
But I forget ... what's so great about humankind, anyway?
Haven't we despoiled our planet, murdered mercilessly, stolen savagely, lied lavishly? Haven't we turned a deaf ear to all warnings? We deserve the strife and struggle, the death rattle of civilization that can already be heard. The end. The silent nothingness that awaits us.
The world will be better without us. Still it's not easy to go from everythingness, in vision and in life, to nothingness and nihilism.