A Sideways Glare at Contemporary Society
Okay, folks! We’re totally screwed! Today is Friday the 13th and tomorrow is the full moon. And this means– to those who believe the vast, ineffable universe is directed directly at them — that bad stuff is coming down the road. Personally, I don’t believe the vast, ineffable universe is directed directly at me. However, I have a healthy respect for folk wisdom– even when it’s wrong. My assumption is folk wisdom had to come from somewhere. For example, my mother used to say, “Eat your fish. It’s brain food!” I have no idea how she arrived at that conclusion, but come to find out, recent medical science has proven she was absolutely right: eating fish diminishes the risk of dementia. Obviously, Mom wasn’t privy to research that hadn’t even happened yet; she was just tapping into the folk tales of the time. And even though I didn’t understand what was going on, this cowboy took it on faith and ate his fish.
Even the most hardcore existentialists among us have to admit our world is full of coincidence, events that are connected for no apparent reason — except they are. Stop to look in a shop window and some idiot runs a red light through the crosswalk where you would have been standing if you hadn’t stopped to look in a shop window. Sound familiar? This stuff happens all the time. The big question – that nobody’s ever been able to answer — is Why? So, we make it up. We assign arbitrary reasons for our actions and events, to satisfy our burning need to make sense of our existence.
Ever since Lucy (Australopithecus) and her girlfriends decided to go for a stroll in Ethiopia 3 million years ago, humans have been trying to get the inside edge on fate, destiny or whatever you want to call it. We’ve observed the stars, consulted oracles, rolled old bones and cut open chickens. We’ve danced, prayed, chanted and offered sacrifices to our gods. We’ve looked for omens and carried lucky charms. And although it sounds silly in the glaring light of 21st century science, one has to wonder where this stuff came from. The laws of probability alone say it can’t all be the work of shysters and charlatans. Some of it must be, (Dare I say it?) based on some long-lost “Eat your fish” facts.
Shakespeare’s Hamlet tells Horatio,
“There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”
And I believe him. We have not reached the pinnacle of human knowledge. In fact, we’re not even close. There’s tons of stuff we haven’t figured out yet. Five hundred years ago, if you had suggested that diseases were caused by itty-bitty bugs that no one could see, you’d have been burned for a witch. It’s not outrageous to imagine that, five hundred years from now, people might think we’re barbarians for not understanding the power of the #13 or the effect the moon has on human behaviour.
Here’s a thought. It’s a scientific fact that the gravity of the moon controls the ebb and flow of the Earth’s oceans, and it’s a scientific fact that the human brain is 73% water. Think about it!
I’m not saying yea or nay on this whole full moon/Friday the 13th thing, but sometimes it’s a good idea to just take a little bit on faith and metaphorically eat our fish.