Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Dangerous Miracles

“We who are about to die demand a miracle,” wrote the poet W. H. Auden during the dawning crisis of World War II.  We could say the same in early 2022—with war, plague, and climate catastrophe looming before us.   But what kind of a miracle should we demand? 


It’s an interesting question. Suppose we had the power to perform one miracle, with the intent of improving the lot of the human race?  What miracle would you, dear reader, prefer?  


Here’s the first miracle I would perform, as an immediate boon to all humans as well as to all living creatures of nature.  I would transform all cowardice and mendacity into the courage to speak truth to power.  I admit it’s hard to imagine how this would play out among some folks.  The danger? It might cause mass disorientation and suicide among the base of various true believers.  


The truth is that miracles can be dangerous.  Let me try another.  Suppose for a miracle we instill a simple but indestructible quantum of basic decency in every human being so that crimes, legal, emotional, and spiritual, just fade away.  Obviously, that won’t work.  It would mean the end of police, lawyers, jails, the business of incarceration, guns, the weapon’s industries, government itself, and of course the entertainment industries.


That extra injection of simple humanity would be a radically subversive miracle.  So cross that one off; it’s easy to imagine a horrible backlash.  The problem with this miracle is its jarring prematurity.


Let’s then suppose we miraculously grant perfect health to everybody.  That would be a great miracle for Americans, millions of whom have poor or no health coverage. But I’m not sure everybody would be happy with this miracle, for example, the pharmaceutical industries.  To stay rich for these folks it’s essential that we have plenty of illness, crime, mental distress, boredom, fear and plain old  unhappiness.  Perfect health and profound happiness would really upset the world order.  And enemies of that miracle would come rapidly crawling out of the woodwork, all aflame with righteous indignation!  So you can forget that miracle.


Suppose somebody chose to endow us with miraculous powers to move about in space, so that we could levitate and even have sex afloat in the air like Tibetan tantric yogis.  That would be a fun miracle, don’t you think?  And very convenient.  No more crowded planes, hanging around bus stops, having to bring your car in for an oil change.  Yes, it’s an image of paradise.   Imagine how beautiful the world would be without automobiles, without the energy industries and all the pollution, garbage, overheating, and so on.  Sadly, here too we run into vested interests, strongly at odds with the drift of our miracle.   


The way the world is set up, and the way people seem to be made, may not welcome our miraculous potentials.  Perhaps we need to pick our miracles more carefully. They all seem to have dangerous consequences.


One well documented miracle is inedia, the ability to live for long periods of time without food or drink, and to function quite well, even better than normal.  Suppose for a moment that people were suddenly turning into well-adjusted happy inediacs.  This would alarm the food and drink industries, and it wouldn’t be good news for farmers.  And all those advertisers would be left in the lurch.  Sorry.  Goodbye inedia.


Problems arise at the interpersonal level.  I have known cases of relationships breaking up on account of one member having some kind of metaphysical break-through.  One woman was having precognitive experiences that caused her boyfriend to treat her like “a lucky charm” to support his appetite for gambling.  That wrecked the relationship.


So it’s hard to pick a miracle without risk of danger.  To be on the safe side, let’s choose a miracle guaranteed to benefit everybody.  For example, let everybody love everybody else unconditionally. How could that go wrong?  Come to think of it, I’m sure there would be a movement, organized protest against being forced by a miracle into eternal affability.   Their motto: Back to Normality, Nihilism, and Nastiness!


For a more positive approach to the topic of miracles, see below:










No comments:

Older Blog Entries