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  • Thomas A. Wilson

Dragonglass

Dragonglass is a real thing. According to Samwell Tarly, “The Maesters call it, ‘obsidian.’” GoT aficionados will understand the fictional reference—as well as the abbreviation. Dragonglass, in their mythology, is useful for dispatching White Walkers. That’s good to know if you ever find yourself threatened by an unreal formerly human ice-creature in an unreal universe based on an unreal reality.


Speaking of real, I’m amazed that current cultural artistic types can’t seem to get enough of fantasy—replete with graphic sex and violence—but they turn their nose up at religious history. Isn’t atheistic Sheldon (from The Big Bang Theory) a big fan of Game of Thrones? He loves his mother with about the same passion with which he rejects her Christian worldview. Yet, along with GoT, he celebrates The Lord of the Rings and Star Trek.


I think art imitates life. There are a lot of millennials like Sheldon.


If, as Sheldon believes, the biblical narrative is myth, why not take a stroll through the books of Samuel? There’s a compelling narrative complete with a hot princess, deranged king, arrogant giant, quirky prophet, and flawed hero. I’m not holding my breath that the bible will suddenly become trendy, but I am trying to get my readers to ask, “Why not?” Aboriginal mythologies don’t seem to generate such energetic rejection. Why does the bible make some people so mad? It’s a question worth figuring out.


Current reality points backward to previous influence. Take the story of obsidian, for instance. It helped humankind discover that there are planets outside of our solar system. Yep, planet Earth pointed humanity to other planets in the Goldilocks zone. Maybe Gaia was lonely.


Let me explain.


A long time ago, somebody took a stroll and stumbled upon a piece of volcanic glass. They surmised that the odd stone might be useful. They started knapping (the art of shaping a knife edge by striking one rock with another) and obsidian knives and scrappers and arrowheads and spearpoints and axes dramatically reshaped the neighborhood.


After a while, other smart people took note and began to explore ways to reproduce the conditions in which glass is formed. They succeeded and glass became a luxury item in Mesopotamia and Egypt. Eventually, glass objects and jewelry spread throughout the near east. Stone tools gave way to bronze tools and humankind was well on its way to the stars—in a few millennia.


Then, the wheels fell off. Glass production all but ceased during the late bronze age collapse of the Mycenean, Kassite, Hittite, and Anatolian civilizations. The period of 1200 to 1150 BC kind of sucked. Why it sucked is important. Basically, it was SEPTIC.


Six factors played into the collapse. Social, economic, and political systems failed. Iron based technology undermined the bronze establishment, invasions crippled the kingdoms, and climate change (including volcanic activity) replaced wealth with poverty.


It would be a thousand years before glass production recovered. When it did, it was due to Roman ingenuity. Intrigued by glass artifacts found around the empire, the Roman intelligentsia mobilized to satisfy the market. Italy became home to the best (and sometimes only) glassmakers in Europe. The islands of Murano, near Venice, are still the glassmaking mecca of the world.


Glass refracts light. So, it was only a matter of time before someone crafted a lens. Soon, prisms and spectacles and microscopes and telescopes dramatically reshaped the neighborhood. And then somebody launched a big glass lens into space, named it the Hubble Space Telescope, and discovered, for the first time, exoplanets (planets outside our solar system) in visible light.


Tracing backwards, it looks like this: exoplanets, Hubble Space Telescope, telescopes, lenses, jewelry/beads/vessels, knapped tools/weaponry, shiny black rocks. Since there’s no guarantee that humans will avoid intellectual recession, and those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it, let’s do a little backward tracing using the SEPTIC acronym applied to current reality.


Are social networks failing? Well, the family isn’t doing well. In America, forty percent of babies are born out of wedlock—and about half of all marriages end in divorce. I’m not talking about morality here, I’m talking about stability versus trauma. Do the research; it’s not good.


Economic systems? Negative interest rates should scare the heck out of us. Both capitalism and socialism suffer from a common fatal flaw: human selfishness. And the stick-togetherness of the greatest generation, who overcame both economic depression and world war, has been replaced with name calling by millennials and boomers.


How are political systems doing these days? We vilify, insult, denigrate, and threaten anyone who disagrees. Left and right foam at the mouth. A sickening neo-McCarthyism is ruining reputations and lives. And that should get attention from both sides of the aisle.


Technology is changing fast. Maybe too fast. The possible link between social media and anxiety disorders is a growing concern. Virtual life is undermining real life.


America is involved militarily in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, and Korea. We also have obligations to Taiwan, interests in the Persian Gulf, and responsibilities in Europe. One wonders how long before Russia or China decides to test our razor-thin mettle.


Climate change? Regardless of the cause, no thinking person can argue that weather related phenomena are not changing the planet. Understanding the science, without hyperbole and histrionics, seems like a good idea for long term maintenance of the garden.


So, does the future look so bright we have to wear shades, or should we go straight for the safety goggles? Right this second, I’m opting for the safety goggles. But I could be wrong, especially if current movers and shakers do a current-reality inventory, trace outcomes to root causes, and make meaningful adjustments.


That’s what authentic people do. God help us if we get more worked up over some (not so real) reality TV development than we do about our current state of dysfunction.


Maybe we should revisit ancient books of wisdom—it’s not the White Walkers that we should be afraid of.


MANerism:

Educators use the Scholastic Aptitude Test. Doctors use x-rays. Me­chanics use oscilloscopes. Their work demands that the customer exhibit a willingness to answer questions, hold still for a second, or give access to the car’s computer. It’s that simple. Likewise, the underliving must allow for inspection and feedback.


Affirmation of the Week: As an authentic person, I diligently apply wisdom to my unvarnished circumstance in order to live a real life—and get to the next level.

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