[In honor of Al Gore's recent nervous breakdown, this piece I wrote on April 29, 2009 on Townhall blog seems to be appropriate. I thought I'd share it with you.]
pathos 1 : an element in experience or in artistic representation evoking pity or compassion 2 : an emotion of sympathetic pity - Merriam-Webster Dictionary
Following the tumultuous presidential election of 2000, Al Gore was the rebuked suitor and crawled off into the sunset. Remember the beard he grew and the shattered appearance of a man who believed himself to be the righteous heir to the presidential office. Recall his sad, resigned face as he conceded the election and went off quietly into that good night. Well, the night wasn't so good to him. He felt he had been unfairly jilted and like such a suitor believed he must make his place in history without the symbol of the office. He decided to make his mark. We are now feeling the results of his pathos.
Al Gore had always believed man could master nature's plans and figure out how it works. He, as well as many other well meaning environmentalists, believe nature is a passive, delicate creature that man must coddle and nurture. "With our backs turned to the place in nature from which we came, we sense and unfamiliar tide rising and swirling around our ankles, pulling at the sand beneath our feet." Earth in the Balance: Ecology and the Human Spirit. His theme is clear. Nature is a sensitive thing that will exact a cruel punishment equal to that which man subjects it to. Nature has a kind of internal balancing agent that keeps track of offense and metes out rebukes. This image of Mother Earth conjured up like a formible, but easily perverted Nemesis is a reoccuring icon with the faithful. Never mind that nature isn't a personification or tally system but an interlocking series of ecosystems that are constantly changing and always fluid. Forget that we are part of the system and by extension contribute to this ecosystem just as tiger, amoeba, and daffodils do. Environmentalists believe man to be the corrupting force in the world and not part of it. Al Gore fell into this supposition and in it he found his muse.
Evidence of this belief in nature as a frozed state of being can be found everywhere today. In Minnesota, environmentalists try to discover and restore places with 'native' plants and remove 'non-natives'. Nature is the process of living things spreading and contracting with conditions. Nature doesn't have zones of nonchanging prairies, woodlands, or mountains. Nature has vital, moving, dying, and growing ecosystems that are as dependant upon insects, weather, man, animals, and bacterium as they are plants. Some plants move into places when climate or conditions change and some plants die. It is a system we can neither control or even completely fathom. It's too big and complex for the puny human minds to grasp. But, Al Gore needed a way to make his way in the world and all the complexity of nature would not deter him.
So, in his anger, bitterness, and grief, he picked up a dying cause; global warming. He made it his mission to 'fix' nature. The narrative demanded man to be held accountable for his 'abuse' of nature. Mother Nature must be made whole. Man is evil and exploitive. Man caused climate change. Man is raping the Earth goddess. Man must be restrained. Man's very breath was poison to the system. Man's machines destroy the very air on which we rely. Man is bad. In a PowerPoint of epic proportions, Al Gore began his crusade and like all good crusades, it was peppered with high minded rhetoric.
"To see the earth as it truly, is small and blue and beautiful in that eternal silence where it floats . . " Archibald Macleish in 'An Inconvenient Truth.' This sentence diminishes the earth because of man's perspective as a viewer in space. It says the earth is a delicate treasure that is voiceless and needing of care. It argues that since man has mastered the gravitational pull of earth, he is able to understand it better. He goes on to report that all men are brothers and as brothers they are charged with the responsibility for caring for the earth, as though she were his mother. Such personification is worthless. It may sound beautiful and charming and warm, but it doesn't begin to respect nature for what it is. Nature is a cruel mistress that we have been able to tame in small places for us to live in relative comfort. But she can destroy those spaces just as easily.
Hurricane Katrina is such an act of nature. But Al Gore, and the other environmentalists, didn't see this as nature being, well nature. It was a kind of divine retribution for man's cruelty. Katrina was made into a narrative of how man has a responsibility to 'protect' nature. Nature will destroy us unless we are good to her. It is a kind of totem approach to nature. Al Gore believes if we stop 'polluting' the earth, such occurrences will not happen as often. Such is the reasoning of this tribe. They believe and argue if we don't 'stop' global climate change, it will somehow generate retribution. However, nature doesn't give one whit about what man or buffalos or violets do. Nature will keep on evolving and changing as conditions change. It doesn't have an agenda, unless that agenda be survival of the fittest.
Man has been able to master weather in little ways by clothing himself and building shelters. That is the only way man has mastered his environment. We don't 'cause' weather, weather happens. We don't 'make' climate change, we witness it. That is all. But, such a viewpoint is anathema to those worshippers of Mother Earth. She is so delicate in that blue coat, we must help her. Such is the nature of Al Gore's pathos. He wrote and performed a lovely rhetorical narrative. But one not based in reality.
The very slipshod argument and scattered, unscientifically collected evidence for climate change doesn't really say man is changing the climate of the earth. Instead, it suggests the climate is on a spectrum that changes and is in flux. Of course, they couldn't have that reasonable conclusion go unchallenged. Instead, they argue man is the beast and man is the rapist of Mother Earth. We must constrain man and make his actions measured. However, who will decide? Who knows what will best serve the earth? They believe they can. They believe a small group of oligarchs know best. The brightest will decide. The hoi polloi cannot be trusted. We must have control and restraints and tell people how to live. Who better than Al Gore to live a lavish lifestyle but tell you to turn down your thermometer in the winter. Who better than the poor, put-upon Al Gore to rise like a phoenix from the ashes and punish the evil corporations. Who better than the vanquished crusader to lead the charge.
This is the pathos of Al Gore we are now bearing witness to and the madness that has begun to envelope him.
Crossposted at Appalled, a blog at Townhall.com