Retired scientist Ronald Mallett continues to work on the possibility of time travel. Like Albert Einstein, he believes time and space are interconnected. That’s why he is tinkering with technology that will allow him to bend time as if it were in a black hole. Despite this seemingly hopeless pursuit, he invites us to imagine the possibilities that could occur if he succeeds. Covid-19 could have been stopped in its tracks if we’d been able to carry a vaccine into the past.
Mallett says nothing about negative consequences that could arise when we fiddle with history. An ill-fated adjustment might recreate the Mesozoic Era. True, some people make a habit of looking backward. Mississippi’s legislature is nostalgic enough to resurrect the separate but equal Jim Crow laws of the 1800s. Unfortunately, in their bid to defend state rights, they forgot about human ones.
Knowing little of ourselves, substituting the past for the present takes us into a tulgey wood of thorns and bogs. Writers from William Saroyan to Honoré de Balzac see our misadventure as the Human Comedy. By the phrase, they mean that ignorance gives birth to countless absurdities. These literary giants have spent many a candle-lit night in pursuit of them. The result has been an endless series of written comedies and tragedies.
If vanity could learn from genius, we might survive…perhaps even grow wise from the exposure. But imagination isn’t the sole purview of brilliance. Lesser minds employ it, roo. How else could QAnon exist?
Belief is awkward to confront because it is impervious to evidence. If I prefer strawberry ice cream to pistachio, the question of accuracy doesn’t apply.
Ambiguity, of course, is part of the human condition. Quantum physics informs us that truth is relative. Reality lies at the intersection of matter and the observer. Any ignorance we carry en route alters what we perceive. Just as a black hole bends time and space, so black holes of the mind bend reality.
Lauren Boubert, a Republican member of Congress, provides an example. She has submitted a tax proposal to Congress based on her notion of geography. Since her knowledge of our country is limited to the continental United States, she leaves out Alaska and Hawaii. If her bill succeeds, these two states would have to fend for themselves. Or, they could form a separate but equal union which Mississippi might envy.
Equally unburdened by evidence, a drag queen astounded 11-year-olds at an elementary school with the announcement that many genders exist. Seventy-three to be precise. With a little imagination, more be possible. The number has been growing.
President Barrack Obama created the opportunity for these endless possibilities. Executive Order 13672 was his attempt to end lifestyle discrimination at the federal level. The impression the document left was that gender was a state of mind.
A Facebook friend warned I was dipping my toe into troubled waters when I wrote a blog about Executive Order 13572. But how could I ignore it? I’m an English teacher. When I hear plural pronouns used in the singular, I bristle. Yet as an English teacher, I also know that language changes. The MLA Style Center, that arbiter of modern usage, already prods me in the direction of a new “they.”…Jules is writing their research paper on Jane Austen’s Persuasion; Ari read the instructions to themselves [or themself] before beginning the test. Unfortunately, no one has alerted Grammarly about the change.
K. Rowling stumbled into the gender crisis without the benefit of a friendly warning. Not one to mock different lifestyles, she uttered remarks meant to defend women’s rights. But, we all know where the road of good intentions leads. Harpies soon descended and claiming the high ground, they called for a boycott of her latest video game, though it, like many of her enterprises, provides the lifeblood of numerous charities.
J. K. Rowling needn’t have worried. Isle Bryson made her point for her. Faced with an 8-year jail sentence, “they” claimed to be a transgender female, and at “they’s” request, “they” was sent to a woman’s prison. No sooner had “they” donned a uniform of one shade of gray, than “they” proceeded to rape two fellow inmates.
Rowling’s video game, as it happens, suffered no similar harm. Hogwart’s Legacy game enjoyed record sales.
In this Barnum and Bailey world, a little humility doesn’t go amiss. As homo sapiens, we are no more in control of our lives or the environment than earth’s smallest creatures. We may shrug with indifference at an ant war unfolding beneath our feet, yet we fail to consider that Nature may take the same view of us and our endless wars. Like Lauren Boubart, Nature shows a wanton ignorance of geography.
We’d do better to ponder our place in the universe than spend time making up rules that discriminate. If a child born as a girl wants to be a boy, I doubt the moon will fall out of the sky for that ambition. If we are honest, controlling someone’s inner life is more difficult than controlling the outer one. How can we take charge of anything when we are blind to events that will occur over the next 30 seconds?
Some of us avoid the terror of a random cosmos by placing our faith in a god or gods. I, too, feel the impulse. Nonetheless, when studies show that prayer is no more successful than a coin toss, I’m disinclined to take a leap of faith.
Should I be wrong in my irreligious leanings and one day find myself in the presence of a celestial being, I’m certain to be struck with another conundrum. Shall I refer to this deity as “he,” “she,” or “they”?