10/21/05 "Little darlin', I feel that ice is slowly melting..."
George Harrison, "Here Comes the Sun"
All over the world, that ice is melting. Satellite photography over the decades show polar ice shrinkage over the decades, clearly visible to the naked eye - and the naked eye is all we really trust. However incontrovertible this may be, it is nevertheless a bone of political contention, now that we no longer put our childlike trust in Science. Is global warming really the fault of our smelly, burgeoning species, or just a coincidental blip in the random wanderings of the goddess Gaia, or if you prefer, the magnificent planetary machine, that has maintained a nearly constant atmosphere for our pleasure for the past couple of billion years? We can't be completely certain, but we know for sure that those idiots on the other side of the aisle are dead wrong.
Be that as it may, the shrinking ice returns to us things that were lost, that we thought were lost forever, and we examine them with intense interest. Just the other day an airman returned from his crash site in the California mountains, where he had disappeared into thin air, as we like to say, in 1942. Not long ago the legendary disappeared mountaineer George Mallory reappeared on his home ground, the slopes of Everest, a.k.a. Chomolungma, Mother Goddess of the Snows, with gear and all, but without a clue as to whether he and Irving had reached the summit they so devoutly wish'd. And not long before that, of course, there was found the man in the Alps who had been there, encased in ice, with a spearpoint in his back for the last seven thousand years, waiting with infinite patience to tell us of his murder all those centuries ago. The ice gives us these objects, these mute clues, and we have to somehow decipher them; it is salubrious to our being to realize that the past is real, that we are standing on it, that we are built from the stuff, and therefore there is a thread of causation, if not of ultimate meaning, running though the whole monster maze, and we can follow it, at least for a short way.
Melting glaciers can be found metaphorically thoughout the world. For example, there is the crumbling of the longtime omertá of the Roman Catholic Church regarding the peccadillos of some percentage of priests who cannot be celibate and yet still wish to remain priests. This frees up thousands of victims to literally get hopping, screaming, suing mad. Along with the breaching of various rusting moral fortresses there are falling statues with feet of clay - the political theories that enabled and rationalized on a monstrous scale some of the worst tendencies of the human animal, viz. Lenin, Saddam Hussein, etc. Although Vladimir Putin pays lips service to democracy, he keeps his hidden hand on the machinery of absolute control, even as the basis of that control, which is the peoples' ignorance, fear and acquiescence, melts away faster every day. The Chinese Communist Party tries desperately to have its cake and eat it too, and have capitalism without democracy, but it is now too late to stuff the yowling Cat of Western Decadence back into the Blackout Bag of Repression - the people know that there is another kind of existence outside the Middle Kingdom, and they're intensely interested in what they see sticking out of the ice.
Will this gradual melting of ignorance and silence result in global peace, prosperity and a general Golden Age? Alas - we have some major problems that do not hinge on our politics, philosophy or morals; we must go back and trust pure science to find and tell us the truth, and then we must find the will to act on it. If we fail, at least we knew, for a while, what was actually emerging from the ice, before it started to close back in.