Sweetness & Light

Lift Up Your Hearts to Gaia

Humankind has always had an awkward relationship with things we are powerless to control. Problems especially arise when we try to influence the weather, for example.

Aztec priests, big believers in the curative and transformative powers of mass slaughter, would carve open the chests of sacrificial victims in order to appease the gods with victims’ still-beating hearts.

Those gods were unpleasant types, and they would dole out droughts and famines holus-bolus unless sufficient hearts were supplied. Or dead kids. Apparently the tears of a terrified and soon-to-be-murdered child were required before rain god Tlaloc would bother to crank up some clouds.

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But the Aztecs eventually ran out of themselves and weather-controlling sacrifices ended in their particular region. And, gradually, other cultures also abandoned sacrifices, possibly after realising they didn’t actually change anything.

Thereafter, people slowly adapted to the idea that weather wasn’t within the realm of humanity’s command. Oh, there must have been millions of prayers over the years begging for a change of weather, but all except the most devout understood that such matters were immune to human pleading.

Mark Twain is usually credited with this celebrated line, which puts people in their place regarding climate-adjusting capacity: “Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it.” It now seems, however, that this line (or a variation of it) originally came from Twain’s friend Charles Dudley Warner, about whom a charming obituary was written after his death in 1900.   

“When people were once tried almost beyond endurance by the most exasperating of winters he said, ‘Everybody is talking about the weather; why doesn’t somebody do something?’ and this, with its subtle irony of human futility, is perhaps one of the most representative examples of his wit,” the obituary read. “But his humor was an aroma which interfused all his thought, and filled his page with the constant surprise of its presence.”

Warner invoking the “subtle irony of human futility” is a beautiful observation, all the more so for the current lack of any subtlety in climate debates. Your climate panic crowd doesn’t bother much with anything subtle. As Aztecs were to sacrificial victims, climate activists are to nuance and wit.

If the humour of climate screamers had an aroma, it would be something like the musty reek of a sofa left out in the rain ahead of hard waste collection day. Worse still, that sofa had spent the previous five years in a shared student house. And they were enrolled at La Trobe.

In recent times we’ve been working our way back to an Aztec mindset on weather issues. Granted, we’ve not yet begun building towers out of human skulls, but any talk of emissions reduction sooner or later gets around to “sacrifice”. We are encouraged to sacrifice certain lifestyle traits and choose second-tier options in travel, diet and convenience, all in the name of calming the weather.

One chap, US gay rights lawyer and environ­mental advocate David Buckel, did to himself what Aztecs did to others. Early one morning in New York back in 2018, Buckel burned himself to death in a protest against climate change.

“Most humans on the planet now breathe air made unhealthy by fossil fuels, and many die early deaths as a result,” his suicide note explained. “My early death by fossil fuel reflects what we are doing to ourselves.”

A bit of a mixed message there, to be honest. If he’d used a different source of energy than efficient, rapid-burning petrol, Buckel would probably still be alive. Very few successful suicides involve a solar component, and wind turbine blades are only a threat to birds.

The odd Gaia barbecue enthusiast aside, most of our sacrifices to date are primarily financial. We sacrifice fifteen cents to Coles and Woolworths every time we buy one of their heavy new plastic bags, an “environmental” innovation that by one estimate has increased supermarket profits by $71 million.

And households sacrifice thousands every damn year through renewable energy subsidies that are embedded in our power bills. We receive most of our electricity from coal, but pay additionally for energy we don’t receive or use at all. As well, we sacrifice jobs across inland Australia because we won’t follow the US example and frack for natural gas.

As this is written, socialist Bernie Sanders is still alive and riding high in Democrat primaries. If he defeats a dull Democrat field and scores his party’s nomination, and—a much bigger if—he goes on to topple President Donald Trump, Sanders vows he will ban fracking.

Now we’re talking truly Aztec-level sacrifice. Fracking supplies the US with half its oil and two-thirds of its natural gas. Imagine the global economic impact that would be caused by subtracting such an enormous amount of cheap energy from a world superpower.

There would also be a very severe human toll. “Fracking helped save the lives of roughly 11,000 Americans each winter from 2005 to 2010, according to a recent National Bureau of Economic Research paper,” public policy researcher Ron Williamson reported last year. “How? By driving down energy prices and helping them affordably heat their homes.”

Socialism always hits the poor hardest. Back home, I suppose you’d have to include in our list of sacrifices all the IQ points we lose every time a Greens representative turns up on television. Against that, of course, we do have to acknowledge former Greens leader Bob Brown’s noble decision to sacrifice a likely Shorten Labor government. Brown’s election campaign carbon convoy to coal-loving northern Queensland swept Bill Shorten completely aside. Credit where it is due.

When weather became politicised, it hastened our return to Aztec god-appeasement strategies. A generation or three has been raised to think the climate can be influenced by voting for a particular political party, and various other means of atonement.

It doesn’t work like that. Besides, imitating Aztec sacrificial traditions is a clear case of cultural appropriation, and those practising it should be shunned.

 

UNTIL direct flights to Texas were opened a few years ago, the first stop for Australians visiting the US was California—and most usually Los Angeles.

Back in the day, LA was a fine starting point. It’s a completely atypical US city, what with its massive city blocks and all, but once you worked out the basic scheme of things and got Sunset Boulevard sorted, everything made a certain kind of sense.

I first turned up there three decades ago, when the racial tensions that eventually led to the 1992 Rodney King riots were abundantly evident. More than sixty people were killed in those riots, which followed the acquittal of police officers who were filmed viciously beating King after he’d attempted to flee pursuing lawmen.

The place recovered surprisingly quickly. Around 1999 or so, I was in a fine new LA shopping centre buying some shoes when I looked out the window and noted familiar-looking street signs. One of the staff confirmed that, yes, this was the very corner where the 1992 riots had commenced. And now it was as friendly a joint as you could imagine.

Several years of relative peace and progress followed. Perhaps Zali Steggall, the independent member for ex-PM Tony Abbott’s seat of Warringah, was thinking of that brief, shining time in LA history when she announced last October that California was her guiding light.  

“I want Warringah to be a mini-California and lead the way,” environmental zealot Steggall said, apparently in thrall to the west coast’s climate-fixing ambitions.

As it happens, a couple of LA friends were over here in Australia during summer. I ran Steggall’s “mini-California” line by them to see how they’d react. They were incoherent with laughter for a time, but eventually one of them managed a sentence. “Not even California wants to be California,” he said. And then he began to list, in anguished detail, the grievous problems besetting that once-beautiful state.

Homelessness in LA and San Francisco is out of control. City streets are rife with tent communities of the homeless, which last year were hit by a wave of disease. At one point LA’s City Hall was shut down over fears of a typhoid outbreak that originated among the homeless.

In his State of the State address in February last year, California Governor Gavin Newsom listed outbreaks of hepatitis A in San Diego County, syphilis in Sonoma County, and typhus in Los Angeles County.

“Typhus,” Newsom said. “A medieval disease. In California. In 2019.”

Some tales of Californian decay are too revolting to be repeated in detail for Quadrant’s gentle and civilised readers. Should they wish, they are invited to run a Google search for “California” plus “public defecation”. As of this moment, that search returns more than 27,000 matches.

Many years of useless, environment-focused municipal and state governments have led to this abysmal situation. An obsession with global climate change has left authorities with a local climate hellscape.

And this is Zali Steggall’s dreamland. Well done, Warringah.

16 comments
  • Stoneboat

    Our problem is that the nations have forgotten God.
    And our only solution is to return to Him.
    .
    And, to be clear, I’m talking about the God of Abraham, Issac and Jacob. The God of the Hebrews, who sent His son Jesus to save his people from their sins.

  • Rob Brighton

    Just like the Aztecs eh?

  • Stephen Due

    The Aztecs have a modern-day reincarnation in the Communist Party of China, which is known to be using live political prisoners as a source for the harvesting of vital organs. The Party considers their still-beating hearts will be more useful if installed in Party members. This is simply the materialist version of the ancient Aztec rite. In effect, the prisoners are sacrificed to the supreme ruler of the Celestial Empire, Xi Jinping.

  • padraic

    Almost but not quite, Rob. I am no Bible-basher but when Judaism (via Abraham being “told” to stop sacrificing his son) substituted a lamb for a human to sacrifice to end the drought etc and then Jesus took it to a better level by recommending bread and wine as the sacrifice, people took to Christianity in a big way because they no longer had to witness their loved ones getting their throats slit or hearts torn out so businesses could prosper or battles won. The Druids in Europe, the Aztecs in South America and other “witch doctors” in most societies around the globe had their human sacrifices supplanted by the more acceptable sacrifice of bread and wine. The greenies (vide the ABC) still have this primitive urge to sacrifice something for a supposed good, and as Christianity is on the wane, the secularist religion of Climate Change is switching from children to old people to be sacrificed as we see them gloating over the prospect of senior deaths with Covid-19 and state sponsored killing via euthanasia.

  • pgang

    Rob Brighton yes, the belief system is similar. Having given up on reason (because that’s where humanism has inevitably led us), humanity now finds god in two places – one is in the universal (let’s call it gaia), which is the overlord that allows for no discordance, but ultimately stands for stagnation (such as natural law). The other is in nature itself as particulate entity, which is chaotic and scary, and the source of change.
    We are seeing ever more increasingly the placating of the god of chaos – nature. This virus panic is no different. Big and scary (even though it isn’t really), bringing chaos to the world, implacable, unreasonable, obtuse. We offer our our well-being and treasure, our economies and social structures as sacrifices to placate this nature-chaos. Global warming scaremongering was a warm-up. It seems that now we are in the game of human sacrifice full-swing. We are not actually shedding blood as yet, but I suspect that will eventuate at some stage.

  • pgang

    padriac you seem to have your Judeo-Christian history rather confused with secular history, but otherwise point made nicely.

  • Stoneboat

    Not at all Rob, it will be worse. Read today, the curses of Deuteronomy 28 are a fence to direct individuals and nations towards Christ and away from being turned into hell.
    .
    OTH, the blessings of Deuteronomy 28 are promised to individuals and nations who listen diligently and observe to do all that God commands.
    .
    God has his eye on truth and righteousness and
    Jesus said to judge righteous judgement.
    .
    (16) The LORD is known by the judgment which he executeth: the wicked is snared in the work of his own hands. Higgaion. Selah.
    .
    (17) The wicked shall be turned into hell,
    and all the nations that forget God.
    .
    Psalm 9:16-17

  • T B LYNCH

    Legalized abortion is a human sacrifice to the convenience of people already born.

  • Stephen Due

    T B Lynch. Nice one TB.

  • Stephen Due

    Stoneboat. These guys (pgang, padraic and Rob) seem to be very confused about Christianity. If I were you, I would tell them that actually Jesus Christ offered himself as a sacrifice for the sin of the whole world “once” and “for all”. Thus Christ (from whom the name Christian is derived) put an end to all sacrifice, whether of animals or humans, for ever. Hebrews 11. What Christians offer as a sacrifice to the Living God is a “contrite heart” (Psalm 51) and “praise” (Hebrews 13).

  • en passant

    Stephen,
    Where does the Inquisition fit into this non-sacrificial scheme. And don’t get me started on the god of peace, Allah!

  • Stoneboat

    In my Bible these words are written in red, which means Jesus speaking..
    .
    (17) “For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.” John 3:17
    .
    en passant, the god of peace, Allah, had no son.

  • Stephen Due

    en passant. You would have to take my word for it that the Inquisition was not a Christian enterprise. Not everyone who calls himself one is one. Jesus said: “Many will say to me Lord, Lord…and then I will profess unto them: I never knew you. Depart from me, ye that work iniquity”.
    Jesus gave two commandments: (1) to love God; (2) to love your neighbour as yourself. You get the idea. Number one is a bit abstract, but number two is pretty straight forward. It definitely excludes torturing your neighbour on the rack, burning him alive and so on.

  • padraic

    Stephen. I am not confused about Christianity. I get it, but I was only looking at the narrow aspect of how Jesus satisfied the human urge to sacrifice by making it more humane with bread and wine. You were talking about Jesus sacrificing himself to cover all the sins of mankind. That’s different. Despite using a lamb for sacrifice in the early Judaic tradition and period in which he lived “sinners” could be stoned to death (i.e. sacrificed) because there was no room for forgiveness in those early Middle Eastern religions (and elsewhere – vide “witch burning” in our own tradition, up until recent times). He proposed something radical at the time – that people riddled with guilt who made mistakes should not be condemned for the rest of their lives and become social pariahs, like Mary Magdalene then, or druggies today, but could admit the error of their ways and make a new start and rejoin the mainstream, as illustrated by the Prodigal Son et al. As to your assertion that the Inquisition was not a Christian enterprise they certainly hid behind the skirts of Christianity and were tacitly supported by the clerical authorities just as today’s paedophiles hid behind the skirts of the various Christian religions with their actions being equally accommodated by the clerical authorities. Both situations and many others throughout history give Christianity a bad name, and detract from the message of its founder.

  • Stoneboat

    T B LYNCH, agreed. Fields full of murdered babies and their blood cries out to God, to whom vengeance belongs.
    .
    Legalised abortion, murder by permit, is Lawlessness:
    .
    (34) Also in thy skirts is found the blood of the souls of the poor innocents: I have not found it by secret search, but upon all these. (35) Yet thou sayest, Because I am innocent, surely his anger shall turn from me. Behold, I will plead with thee, because thou sayest, I have not sinned.
    Jeremiah 2:34-35
    .
    I wonder, speculate, that perhaps these murdered children might have grown to be prophets, turning the people back to the Law and it’s author? Is the world now so lawless and backslidden because we’ve killed God’s prophets in the womb? Is God visiting the world with drought & locusts & pestilence because the cup of innocent blood is full? (2 Chronicles 7:13)

  • Stephen Due

    padraic. Many thanks. I’ve enjoyed reading our comments. Some further thoughts:
    The stoning to death of lawbreakers seems to have arisen during a period of nomadic life when the people lived in tents, so no prisons were available. This was a form of punishment obviously but not of sacrifice in the biblical context. There are other interesting aspects.
    Certainly though I would say human sacrifice as such was ever part of the biblical religion (though the story of Abraham suggests it might have been practised in his time). Animal sacrifices however were clearly fundamental to the biblical religion and were the subject of complex regulations, with many layers of meaning and purpose. Those many layers of meaning and purpose became embodied (as it were) in Jesus, the Lamb of God, whose sacrifice did away with the old system of animal sacrifice entirely and forever.
    I’m not of the opinion that the bread and wine are a sacrifice, though, for the reason given in my last sentence. But most important, I think, is the fact that the undoubted power and sophistication of the old sacrificial system, with all its subtlety and deep insight into fallen human nature, was completely transformed by Christ in the way the New Testament describes. No longer an external process that required a vast religious apparatus, it was internalised, becoming a spiritual process, represented in the Lord’s Supper, that was genuinely transformative – something the great prophets of the Old Testament had longed for but could not achieve.

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