1# The world doesn’t need me to “save” it
If you grew up hearing about Love Canal, Three Mile Island, Bhopal and thalidomide — and watching Omega Man and Soylent Green — you got the message: scientific progress was dangerous. Innocent human beings were at constant risk of death due to some ever-looming catastrophe.
However, surviving all those scares gave me a healthy suspicion whenever 60 Minutes exposed the latest “danger in your medicine cabinet” or Time put the next world-ending scenario on its cover. I’m old enough to remember nuclear winter and global cooling and the population bomb and the millennium bug and any number of mass panics that amounted to nothing.
These were the same experts who assured us that the Soviet Union was all set to last another fifty years, just weeks before the Berlin Wall came down.
What I’ve learned is that bad stuff will happen. But — as per 9/11 — you probably can’t imagine what it is in advance. And it’s usually the opposite of whatever the experts are telling you.
Some of history’s greatest villains were convinced they were “making the world a better place.” When I was on the Left, I was driven more by my own personal neuroses and demons than by real concern about “the human race.” I know my comrades were, too. Looking back, I see what a bunch of screwed up individuals we were, and can’t believe we thought we knew what was best for the planet.
I hope the kids wasting their time at Media Matters or handing out leaflets for the Socialist Workers’ Party come to their senses sooner than I did.