American Elephants


The Tragic View of Life by The Elephant's Child

Searching the internet for the news yesterday, I came across Katy Perry’s vapid remarks about Manchester “the greatest thing we can do is just unite and love on each other. No barriers, no borders, we all just need to coexist.” Then there were Mark Zuckerberg’s equally vacuous remarks about  a “new social contract with a universal basic income,”in his speech at Harvard’s graduation.

He then said, though, that the struggle of our time will be between “the forces of freedom, openness and global community against the forces of authoritarianism, isolationism and nationalism.”

“Forces for the flow of knowledge, trade and immigration against those who would slow them down,” he continued. “This is not a battle of nations, it’s a battle of ideas.”

Zuckerberg then choked up as he told the graduates that one of his top students at the Boys and Girls Club where he volunteers his time was a DREAMer who “raised his hand and said he wasn’t sure he could go [to college] because he’s undocumented. He didn’t know if they’d let him in.” Zuckerberg said he took him out for his birthday and when he asked him what he wanted, “he started talking about students he saw struggling and said, ‘you know, I’d really just like a book on social justice.’”

There are lots of books about social justice, unfortunately there is no such thing. There is one kind of justice in the world, which is based in the laws and courts and constitutions of the world. Social justice means a kind of justice that the speaker believes is fair. Good luck with that. My idea of what is fair for everyone is far different than the next guy’s and the next. You can try to convince the world that if they can just “imagine” a glorious future, but then John Lennon tried that one.

Human nature is not fixable. You can’t make everybody be “nice.” The Castros tried the guaranteed income bit in Cuba, gave everybody $20 a month. And desperate Cubans got on anything that would float and tried to make it to America. Recognizing Cuba for the socialist prison it is, America gave admission to any Cubans who could make it to our shores. Obama cancelled that because Cuban refugees were unlikely to become Democrat voters.

Victor Davis Hanson writes frequently about the tragic view of life. By that he means that you can’t have world peace when even your own family can’t get along. We have built great organizations to make and keep the peace, and simply created another mess. The United Nations does have nations speaking to each other through their representatives, but the record of UN Peacekeepers is disastrous. People we love will die, new businesses will fail, people will get fired, government programs will fail. Things far beyond our control will happen and take vast numbers of lives, tsunami, volcanoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, plagues. And now we have Islamic terrorism.

Our advances come in small surprises, often unrecognized—the Magna Charta, the American Constitution. Pasteur’s discovery of germs changed the life expectancy of the world. The first “miracle drug” was aspirin. Our really big, highly celebrated discoveries or inventions often don’t perform as hoped. We have invested so much in education, hoping to prepare each new generation to do better and live better and advance the world a little bit more, and one wonders if the snowflakes and social justice warriors the universities are turning out are even employable. They are not all protesting, nor refusing to hear voices of disagreement, and surely there are some students who are learning and thinking who will come up with the small insight that will improve the world another small bit.

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