BY JAMES RICKMAN
I wanted to thank Olivia Hamilton for her recent commentary about the inhumanity within the local school system. Recognizing and calling out barbarism and injustice is the first step toward stopping and, perhaps someday, eliminating these negative attributes of The Human Condition. Unfortunately, despite our inclination to believe that human beings are inherently kind, just, and generous by nature, or due to some “God-given” directive, the truth is—at this point in our history, anyway—individuals act according to their own selfish best interests.
We saw this in real time during the Pandemic; people refused to pull together and act cooperatively to staunch the death toll, preferring instead to sacrifice their fellow citizens in exchange for haircuts or opportunities to dine out. Stupidity trumped science, and massive numbers of people refused to get vaccinations or to wear masks as a political statement. Hoarding, violence, and narcissism were the order of business for nearly two years, with the climax here in America of a small group of people trying to overthrow our political system in favor of a poorly conceived autocracy that insurrectionists believed would personally benefit their own self interests. The foulness that Ms. Hamilton witnessed is not a peculiarity to Los Alamos; it exists everywhere.
In late November the world population hit 8 billion. As more and more people continue to compete for fewer and fewer resources in a finite environment, the amount of ugliness and non-beneficial competitiveness will increase among members of our species, and we will continue to witness or participate in increasing levels of incivility, horror, and violence as society begins to break down, and human affiliations become more tribal, most likely based on cultural or religious bonds.
Hopefully there is still time for Ms. Hamilton and others within her generation to begin forging a lasting social compact that will ensure a more enlightened society based on compassion and justice. Meantime, those of us who despise injustice and inhumanity can speak up with disapproval the next time it rears its ugly head, so our brothers and sisters like Ms. Hamilton won’t feel so horribly alone and so vastly outnumbered.