Tuesday, January 22, 2013

You understand...I am unable to despair of humanity

"My dear friend, I am starting from a different point of view. I am persuaded that evil and suffering will never completely desert our poor earth, but I am also convinced that it is everyone's task to work to reduce evil and suffering as much as possible, in our own sphere, humbly, simply, without concern for our precious personality, through dedication, love, the gift of ourselves to that which is our duty. I believe that to accomplish this mission, the first thing to do is to try to become our best selves, even perhaps without knowing it. And God will do the rest. Our effort, our sacrifices, our actions, even the most hidden, will not be lost. This is my absolute conviction; everything has a long-lasting and profound repercussion. This thought leaves little room for discouragement, but it does not permit laziness. We are poor day-laborers of life; we sow and God gives the harvest. You understand...I am unable to despair of humanity." - Elisabeth Leseur

We cannot despair of humanity because God does not despair of humanity.

I've been making my way through Vannevar Bush's memoir's. Bush's chief accomplishments include:
  • Functioning as the primary point man and orchestrator of the Manhattan Project
  • Founder of Raytheon
  • Established government dollars as the become the primary source for funding university research
  • Championed Memex, which went on to become what we now know as the world wide web 
"No, I invented the internet!!!"
It's a somewhat interesting book, but only when I'm not reading it. Truthfully, I'm forcing myself to get through it.  I suppose as having played my own, (very small), role in the machine of industry, government acquisitions,  and defense contacting I feel some responsibility to read the folks who initially thought this was a good idea.

In any case, no one has perpetuated the military industrial complex more than Vannevar Bush. The guy was just as much of a social engineer as he was a scientist. He had very exact ideas about society, power and the state. He was very much a product of the twentieth century, even toying around with eugenics programs until that fell out of fashion in the forties, (the Nazi's did us one service in wiping the glossy veneer of "progress" away from that school of thought). Bush, seems to have probably have considered himself merely above the fray of moral ideologies and partisanship, terming his outlook as good old Yankee pragmatism.

All arguments are moral arguments. The second you make a case for any thing, you infer that some thing matters and once you commit to that well, you just cannot escape the metaphysical. Every one has a philosophy. Bush may be the quintessential modern disciple of Renee Descartes. Efficiency is the prime good. I suppose I'm being a bit harsh. The man had an incredible grasp on how to master the corporate body to rally all available resources to see an idea through from point A to point B. More so, he truly loved learning and was a champion of science. Bush had many thoughts on directing societal progress. He does however strike me as one of those important people who talk about the good of mankind but possess an uncanny neutrality or even blind eye to the ill fate of particular men. It baffles me that he could be so prescient regarding the "big" happenings of his day and simultaneously so ignorant of the costs. For example, he blithely prescribes an industrial food complex in which we simply throw more and more nitrates into the ground to ensure that there are less and less farmers, (this helps more people progress towards um, real jobs you know). When your only tool is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.

Vannevar Bush meant well of course and there is much to say about laws of unintended consequences. However, while Einstein opted out, (and took much criticism for doing so), Bush pushed ahead full bore to capture and direct atomic knowledge and tools to wipe out entire cities in a single day.

Meanwhile I'm working full bore to rally every available resource in efforts to help direct the volatile energies of a moody toddler.

You understand...I am unable to despair of humanity.

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