The thing about insanity is that, despite believing in its existence, each of us is certain we don’t have it. While it might be difficult to determine what, exactly, is the insane, most of us are fairly certain that whatever it is — it’s not who we are or what we’re doing.
As we slog our way through a year that can best be called Insane, we shouldn’t let the above hesitations stop us from thinking about the subject, which of course first requires that we define it, or at least something close to it. We don’t need to get bogged down in language fit for the DSM. Instead, I once heard a pretty good working definition that I think will serve us just fine:
Insanity is doing the same thing you’ve done before while expecting a different result.
A couple of examples:
Thinking of hooking up with your ex- who once lit your Christmas tree on fire because “she’s changed” and things will be different this time around? — Insane!
Thinking that re-watching Friends will reward you with comedic gems coupled with relevant social commentary? — Insane!
Thinking that the coronavirus is going to disappear on its own? — Insane!
Now, let’s apply that to the wildfires presently burning through most of the west. While any scientist with a brain will tell you that this is an issue of compounding global warming (warmer planet, dryer planet, more flammable planet), our President — and presumably many millions of our fellow Americans who support him — insist that the science isn’t really so clear. In fact, they might call the science murky, or hazy, or cloudy, or miasmic, or just about any adjective that would describe the sky outside my apartment for the past week.
As a result, Trump and his supporters suggest that rather than getting worked up about global warming, instead efforts should be focused on grooming forests better.
(On the not-so-odd chance that there’s a global apocalypse and this essay is one of the few surviving documents of Fall, 2020 — sure, I have my biases, but honestly I’m not making this shit up.)
The argument being put forward is that rather than making systemic changes that might could offset the damage we’ve wrought upon the environment, instead everyone should get a rake, pull some weeds from under a pine tree and call it a day.
Which, if we refer to the definition above, is about as close to the insane as imaginable.
Now, let’s pause a moment. If you’re reading this you’re probably a reasonably well educated human with left-leaning social-political tendencies. First, thank you for your patronage. Second, you may have found yourself nodding along with my argument, perhaps even feeling more than a little condescension for those rubes with rakes mentioned above. But — (it’s always the But’s that get you) — presuming that you’re a reasonably well educated, left leaning human in American today, the odds are very, very good that you’re about to cast your vote for Joe Biden, whose plans to address the climate crises we’re presently confronting amount to — well, doing the same things we’ve done before. While expecting different results.
As I said above — none of us thinks we’re insane, and I don’t expect that this little argument will convince anyone of much. (Although I defy anyone to contradict it without appealing to Trump’s obvious terribleness.) If there’s a point, perhaps it’s this, aimed at those Biden Boosting Buddies of ours who disparage the Trumpers: dismount your horses — your saddles don’t ride as high as you think they do.