Sometimes it feels as though the world has gone mad, lost its mind, and sooner or later will fall off of its axis and go crashing into Jupiter at the speed of, well, a crazy planet spinning wildly into another. A brief look – accompanied by the mists of nostalgia that at times like these have a tendency to cloud up the eyes – at one or two of the events that took place in 2010 will leave any rational observer wondering how in the world the Kants of old arrived at the conclusion that the world is the oyster of the rational subject, let alone that mankind is a mildly reasonable species whose great purpose is to comprehend the universe and, having comprehended with our finite minds all the wonders of infinite creation, exercise our great power over the elements until all the world is under our control. The truth is, however, that we are very small. And, unfortunately we are the ones at the mercy of the elements. On top of this, we seem to give ourselves over to everything but reason in our pursuit of happiness – or whatever else it might be that we are pursuing – during our brief lives spent, to paraphrase Wordsworth’s “The World Is Too Much With Us”, getting and spending, laying waste our powers, seeing little in nature that is ours. Coming back to the madness of 2010, is it not strange that an octopus named Paul became an international celebrity for his clairvoyant ability – or was it simply luck? – to correctly predict the winner of each of Germany’s matches as well as the final during the 2010 World Cup? And is it not even more absurd and tragic that the octopus got more media attention than the street vendors who were banned from making a simple living from the World Cup (as well as being forcefully removed from the streets where they usually did their business, which, I would like to highlight, are public spaces and not the property of FIFA) because FIFA somehow arrived at the conclusion that it is God and can dictate to a country which persons may and may not benefit financially from the World Cup? On the other side of the coin, the Vuvuzela was such a hit that it sent many foreign sporting bodies into a banning frenzy in order to prevent the mad havoc – or is it better called jubilance? – that they wrought all over the country. Moving on to more sober news, 950 natural disasters killed 295,000 people in 2010. Such large numbers are often abstract and difficult to process in a meaningful way; however, the fact that the statistic is made up of individuals who were fathers and mothers and children and friends brings the tragedy a little closer to home, makes it a little easier for the heart to access. It could have easily been me or someone I know. I could be next. The scary thing about these disasters is that they reveal to us just how fragile our society actually is. In our attempts to settle the land, to subdue and control nature, to fortify our cities with concrete, we have succeeded in proving how vulnerable we are to the world that refuses to be tamed. Perhaps then, it is better to say that it is not the world that sometimes feels mad, but mankind in our madness who has mistaken the wild for the crazy.
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