The Chicken's Screaming | Opinion | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly

The Chicken's Screaming 

Taking a Gander: I Don't Like What She's Saying

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Chicken Little has been doing it for years. But each time I've heard her shouting that ominous message, "The sky is falling," I've been able to retort sarcastically, "Yeah, right!"

Now, the noisy little foul is getting on my nerves. After the nightmare of the past couple of years, her warning has become frighteningly credible. Americans, right along with the rest of the world, are being forced to reconsider the gimmies of yesteryear. Just because every disaster has predictably petered-out and run its course in the past doesn't mean that a future crisis can't—or won't—be perpetually destructive.

Between COVID, global warming, and the Joe Palooka-style golden-gloves Trump doll who refuses to accept the ref's decision and stay on the mat, we're seeing the perpetually normal transformed into one nasty surprise after another, and many of us, for the first time in our lives, are downright worried about the future of mankind.

Of course, we've all seen the countless tragedies of our world—hurricanes that leave devastation in their paths, civil wars in obscure countries that kill or displace thousands, an epidemic of something that jumped from bats to man in a developing region, floods that sweep away towns, dictators responsible for the worst of human-rights violations, earthquakes that level cities, fires that leave thousands homeless.

Let's face it: There's never been a shortage of terrible events, but we appear to have reached a tipping-point in the what-iffs—one in which the looming threats to our existence appear to be ganging-up for a final assault. I have been eternally optimistic about the resiliency of our world, but today I'm not at all confident that mankind can pull it all back together. We've always been able to think that the body shop can make any wreck look like new again, but the earth is scarred, and recovery looks iffy.

Like the sunrises and sunsets we've assumed would always continue, most of us have never stopped to think that the established patterns of our world could actually be disrupted—not just for a short period, but permanently. The perception that things will continue, indefinitely, in a status quo, has been a serious oversight. And the concept that management of our world and its resources has been on a suicidal course has been largely ignored. While we don't have control of natural phenomena and disasters, we must still realize and accept the fact that we can be willing participants in the failure or survival of our world.

Not since the world wars—and the looming specter of a nuclear holocaust—have so many people been forced to face the fragility of civilization and the uncomfortable fact that our survival is not at all a sure thing. Sadly, the exploitation of our planet is partly to blame, with a bunch of conscience-less, greedy profiteers who ignore the daunting signs of damage in order to keep the money coming—think, energy companies. The reality is that money-grubbing is a big part of the problem. It's certainly the "American Way." Our planet is screaming "rape," but the greedy are not listening.

It isn't that there have been no warning signs for the looming disasters. There were. The concentration of population into cities has been a big factor in reaching the drop-off edge of our earth. It has facilitated the rapid spread of disease, concentrated the ravages of pollution, and helped to aggregate like-minded zealots and fanatics. One aggressive, deadly virus—considering that transportation has shrunk the world—could leave our planet uninhabited, with just a few zombies, apparently immune, hanging on to whatever's left.

So folks, do we just throw up our hands and wait for the end? Of course not, but it's definitely time to reconsider our priorities and realize that egocentrism and greed are poisoning our future. I think that Americans, in particular, have been guilty of entitlement in breaking the rules—and we're now forced to take the lead in making the necessary corrections.

Let's pretend this is an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting and review the essential recitations. In particular, we can acknowledge the difference between those things over which we have no control and those in which we can make a difference.

In short, we must: 1) become responsible citizens of the world, making the necessary changes that are needed to limit man's contribution to global warming; 2) do everything within our power to ensure that the COVID pandemic succumbs to responsible strategies; and 3) make certain that the Palooka Trump doll accepts the fact that he's been KO'd and the buckle has been passed on to the champ.

While the pessimistic Chicken Little keeps crying out her message, Americans must do their best to give our wonderful world its best chance of recovery. Spelled out, that means being willing to make the required commitments and sacrifices.

The author is a retired businessman, novelist, columnist, and former Vietnam-era Army assistant public information officer. He resides in Riverton with his wife, Carol, and the beloved ashes of their mongrel dog.

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