Is the World Going Insane?

It's at this point of the essay that I'm supposed to offer "the solution." Like the magician taking a rabbit out of the hat, I am expected to tell you that "if we all did such and such (meditated, did yoga, joined the Green Party, voted for Obama over the Republicans, became vegans, followed true meaning of the Bible), everything would be fine."

Sorry, no can do. The forces that created the present insanity—global capitalism, global techno-addiction, patriarchy in desperate retreat, rapidly spreading consumerism, and straw-clutching fundamentalism for those who don't get to the mall much—will be with us for some time. My only recommendation, for those of us who know that the madness is afoot, is to take care of ourselves and our loved ones as best we can, and to try to stay calm amid the madness.

Be kind, hug a tree, treat animals with compassion, remember that in the long run, honesty almost always makes you happier than lying. If, like the Egyptians, you can topple a dictator, by all means do it. Or if you can lessen violence against women, save the rainforest, or, like the students at my university, protest having a commencement speaker who represents (in their words) the "robber baron past," I wish you the best of luck. Just remember that finding a few moments of sanity won't end the insanity in other places, or guarantee that tomorrow or next month the craziness won't come back to where you cleared it away.

And hold on to your hats. We're in for a long, rough ride.

5/5/2011 4:00:00 AM
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    About Roger Gottlieb
    Roger S. Gottlieb ( is professor of philosophy at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. His newest book is Spirituality: What It Is and Why It Matters.