by Jan Baughman
It has yet to be proven that intelligence has any survival value.
—Arthur C. Clarke (1917 - )
(Swans - November 19, 2007) Human ingenuity has led to extraordinary advances over the lifespan of our species, though one has to question the merits of such advances in light of their unintended, unforeseen, or too-often ignored consequences. We turn to ingenuity to find solutions to those consequences -- once again without regard to the new problems that will result from this vicious circle. Sure, we can create new energy sources by destroying the environment, impacting the price and supply of food, and further depleting current energy sources. We can develop stronger antibiotics to fight the drug-resistant organisms that we've created through the overuse of antibiotics. And given our universal lack of will to make the necessary changes to stop polluting our earth, we can only hope (and pray) that our bodies will evolve to (or an Intelligent Designer will provide us with) better-filtering lungs and kidneys, and thicker skin. Which brings us to the good-old American approach to problem solving: prayer.
Even our government turns to a Higher Power to solve its failure of ingenuity (i.e., lack of will). Just this week, the Governor of Georgia gathered politicians and ministers to pray for rain in his drought-stricken state, when neither rationing nor lawsuits produced the much-needed water (it has not arrived as of yet...). Alabama's governor, in competition for the dwindling supply of the precious commodity, had already tried the same approach, also to no avail. Perhaps there is a message being delivered to the Bible Belt that the rise of fundamentalism is not without consequence, but one thing is for sure: separation of Church and State has become as quaint as the Geneva Conventions...
So rather than resorting to prayer as a last resort, why not start with it? Let's give it one big push and then move on. On the next National Day of Prayer, (an event passed into law by Harry Truman in 1952 and assigned to the first Thursday of May by Ronald Reagan in 1988) let us pray for water, oil, and world peace; universal health care and economic equality; the demise of racism, classism, and sexism; an apocalyptic end to Reality TV and the resurrection of Ray Charles; the actual reconstruction of Iraq and a healthy future for polar bears; and once and for all, an end to theocracy. Maybe it will work; after all, thanks to god one football team is always victorious over another. Let's go all-out and win one for the Gipper!
Then, when we awake on the first Friday in May and see that prayer hasn't solved our pressing problems, perhaps we can finally all acknowledge that it's not enough to count on divine intervention to solve our man-made problems. Perhaps we'd be able to roll up our sleeves, get to work, make the tough changes that need to be made, and win one -- for humanity.
"Georgians Pray for Rain...Literally," ABC News, November 13, 2007.
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