Friday, April 22, 2011

#112 / Declinism

On weekday mornings, I read Jon Carroll in the San Francisco Chronicle. Unless Jon Carroll hasn't done a column that day, of course (which is sometimes the case). If that happens to be the case, I can't read Jon Carroll, so I look for the usually present (but not always present) advisory, "Jon Carroll will return." Thank you Chronicle. That does make me feel better! Why do I get so nervous? Apparently, other readers do, as well.

Last Friday, April 15th, Jon Carroll talked about colony collapse disorder in honeybees, and published the good news that things are looking better for the honeybees (and thus for us). I had read this good news elsewhere, and had focused on this story as positive and inspiriting, as Jon Carroll had (and I find this is almost always the case; we tend to be "in synch," except for cats). However, I prized last Friday's Carroll column not so much for the message, but for a new word, "declinism," with which I have been afflicted for virtually my entire life, although I didn't have the word to put to the phenomenon.

I always debated this issue with my Dad, who claimed that things had "always been like this." I insisted that things were definitely getting worse. He, of course, had a few years on me, and was in a better position to have the kind of perspective that could resolve the question. I should have deferred to his judgment, were I rational about it, but being afflicted with what I now know as "declinism," I continued to believe that things were just getting worse, no question about it.

Now that I am even older than my Dad was, at the time we had these discussions, I still think the same. I wonder if my Dad would agree now?

Here is where I draw the line on "declinism," though. I don't believe in "inevitability" of anything (at least in the world that we create). This belief in possibility is also the result of long discussions with my Dad. I think that instilling this understanding was his major project where his eldest son was concerned: Make sure that Gary believes that anything is possible.

Check! Mission accomplished.

"Declinism" will get us only if we don't do something about it ourselves!

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