Swans Commentary » swans.com December 16, 2013  



Perspectives: A Review of 2013


A Personal Look Back From 2013


by Manuel García, Jr.





(Swans - December 16, 2013)   The reflections I wrote twelve months ago about the state of the world will, I think, remain current for the rest of my life, and even far beyond that. (1)

When I wrote those reflections, I still had a faint hope that some of my writing on public affairs might have a useful purpose. I also thought humanity as a whole might eventually address some of the problems I listed. I no longer believe either.

I am convinced that people believe what they want to believe. And, that is neither in reality nor in cooperation.

The problem with American politically-right-wing people is that they are small-minded: obsessed with money, accumulation, and xenophobia. The problem with too many American left-wing people is that they are weak-minded: fearful of technical thinking, and willingly gullible in believing conspiracy theories.

I am writing this on November 22, 2013, the fiftieth anniversary of the assassination of US president John Fitzgerald Kennedy. I remember November 22, 1963, very well, and I have spent the last few months thinking back over my life during the intervening half century. I have many things to be happy about, and a few regrets. My personal lesson for 2013 is that people do not like to have their ideas challenged, and I will no longer spend my time doing so.

Those who already hold opinions similar to what I express in any of my articles will "like" them (which today at most only requires the anonymous and ineffectual press of a button), while those who hold different views will ignore what I write (which is usually the most polite option) or disagree in a very disagreeable manner by disparaging the logic and language of my articles, and too often the character of their author, me. So, I no longer have an interest in writing for an obviously ignorant public that is deluded enough to assume omniscience, and incapable of agreeable disagreement.

It is not agreement that I require from the editors of the Internet magazines I send my work to, merely a chance at fair exposure; and it is not agreement I require from the audience, merely thoughtful response. From both I require respect, but I admit to being behind the times in that regard. I am happy to be able to make my case, for example in favor of the NATO intervention in Libya, and have my views juxtaposed with alternate and opposite views, and then allow the readers to make their own evaluations. I do not have a personal animus to authors who hold different opinions; rather, I respect and appreciate those who make honest and logical arguments for their clearly stated emotional and political preferences.

However, this is not the current practice. I find the Internet forum for commentary on public affairs to be a competition for attention in a cacophony of the deaf. It is my experience that editors tend to be thin-skinned propagandists, unable to tolerate too much "deviation" from their ideological doctrines, and that readers -- "left" and "right" -- are just looking for simplistic sound bites of political entertainment, based heavily on complaint and sarcasm, and for the more literary efforts at political writing for popular consumption to perhaps attain the level of irony.

It seems to me that at least 70% of the readers of left-wing political entertainment writing (for that is what it is) on the Internet are conspiracy theorists, and most are allergic to anything approaching technical facts and scientific rigor. It is so much easier to think what you want if you are unconstrained by inconvenient facts and logic.

In any event, the reason "left-wing Internet activism" is an oxymoron is the same reason today's youngsters are overweight and unable to match their parents' performance as youngsters 20 to 50 years ago in sports (for example in speed and stamina in foot races): too much ass-planted lethargy while hypnotized by hand-held televisions (a.k.a. "personal electronics").

Do you want to actually change the world? Then, here are six challenges for you:

1) learn a second language and seek to apply it for public good,

2) learn mathematics (try calculus) and seek to apply it for public good,

3) grow organic produce, and seek to distribute it,

4) learn music and perform it without expecting undue profit, (2)

5) get yourself into good mental and physical condition (for example, shed neurosis and obesity), and then make sure you take care of your family,

6) use energy mindfully and with appreciation.

I began my public advocacy writing for the Internet in 2003, and after ten years of it I conclude I would do better to focus on other things. Why? Because I want to enjoy my remaining years trying to achieve some of the goals and desires I have yet to realize, and because I know I can have no impact on popular attitudes and in reversing the worldwide consensus to proceed with anthropogenic global warming stoked by fossil-fueled capitalism. The obsession to acquire exclusive personal wealth and temporal power is overwhelming. Also, I no longer want to waste my time complaining about hypocritically self-righteous obsessive-compulsive greed, and encountering politically grandiose petty egotism.

I prefer to improve my piano playing.

"There are problems in these times, but woooo!, none of them are mine." (3)


To e-mail this article


· · · · · ·


If you find Manuel García's article and the work of the Swans collective
valuable, please consider helping us

· · · · · ·



Feel free to insert a link to this work on your Web site or to disseminate its URL on your favorite lists, quoting the first paragraph or providing a summary. However, DO NOT steal, scavenge, or repost this work on the Web or any electronic media. Inlining, mirroring, and framing are expressly prohibited. Pulp re-publishing is welcome -- please contact the publisher. This material is copyrighted, © Manuel García, Jr. 2013. All rights reserved.


Have your say

Do you wish to share your opinion? We invite your comments. E-mail the Editor. Please include your full name, address and phone number (the city, state/country where you reside is paramount information). When/if we publish your opinion we will only include your name, city, state, and country.


About the Author

Manuel García, Jr. on Swans. He is a native of the upper upper west side barrio of the 1950s near Riverside Park in Manhattan, New York City, and a graduate engineering physicist who specialized in the physics of fluids and electricity. He retired from a 29 year career as an experimental physicist with the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, the first fifteen years of which were spent in underground nuclear testing. An avid reader with a taste for classics, and interested in the physics of nature and how natural phenomena can impact human activity, he has long been interested in non-fiction writing with a problem-solving purpose. García loves music and studies it, and his non-technical thinking is heavily influenced by Buddhist and Jungian ideas. A father of both grown children and a school-age daughter, today García occupies himself primarily with managing his household and his young daughter's many educational activities. García's political writings are left wing and, along with his essays on science-and-society, they have appeared in a number of smaller Internet magazines since 2003, including Swans. Please visit his personal Blog at manuelgarciajr.wordpress.com.   (back)


· · · · · ·



1.  Winter Reflections, 2012, Swans, 17 December 2012
http://www.swans.com/library/art18/mgarci59.html  (back)

2.  "Lágrimas Negras" in the movie Cuba Feliz
(Street music in Cuba, 2000)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tozhe0yTAqo  (back)

3.  "Beginning To See The Light"
(The Velvet Underground, 1969)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IOXZ8WgRCLw  (back)


· · · · · ·


Internal Resources

Years in Review

Patterns which Connect

Political Economy


· · · · · ·


This edition's other articles

Check the front page, where all current articles are listed.



Check our past editions, where the past remains very present.

· · · · · ·


[About]-[Past Issues]-[Archives]-[Resources]-[Copyright]



Swans -- ISSN: 1554-4915
URL for this work: http://www.swans.com/library/art19/mgarci77.html
Published December 16, 2013