Are the gods insane? | Reviews | Salt Lake City

Click to enlarge

If you’re one of those people who thinks the man in the sky is in control, you have good reason to shake your head and ask him, as you kneel by your bed, “What do you think you do?”

And, if you’re expecting an answer, please don’t expect too much.

A devastating drought now covers much of the land; temperatures have risen at a frightening rate; wars, in a new wave of imperialist greed, delight people and cause untold suffering and unmanageable refugee situations; water allocation is disorderly as riverbeds dry up and crack in many areas while, at the same time, floods, mudslides and extreme storms sweep across parts of the world, sowing death and destruction; fires are devouring our forests at an unprecedented rate; the news, once on which everyone relied, has been tainted with both manipulation and lies.

Things are really messed up.

In general, mankind has become accustomed to a relatively stable world, a world in which the sun rises every morning and sets every night. The mere notion of a chicken running and shouting “The sky is falling” is something utterly ridiculous and unimaginable, only to be found in children’s storybooks.

But, is it possible?

The COVID pandemic, of course, has changed that. When it struck, fear encompassed the globe. People were getting sick. Images of those infected — first flooding emergency rooms and Insta-Cares, then working on ventilators at death’s door — absorbed prime-time minutes. A whole world crouches, hoping to escape the destroying angel.

In the past 100 years, nothing has simply disrupted people’s lives – and shaken their faith in constants – more than COVID-19.

Our planet, despite its myriad problems, was focused on this one thing. Normal work, school and recreation/leisure hours have all been disrupted. In a sense, no one escaped COVID, simply because its fallout affected everyone.

Visiting friends and gathering at the local hotspot were activities that came to an abrupt halt. In-person education shifted to a well-meaning, but half-fictional substitute, online school, where children suffered from the lack of meaningful social interaction.

Jobs have been lost; families faced homelessness; astronomical shortages have made grocery shopping a hardship; mental health clinics were inundated with anxious, depressed and fearful people; and the most prosperous and progressive parts of our world could no longer have a sense of “all is well”.

Fortunately, COVID seems to have become relatively harmless. Many people are still getting sick, but the pandemic seems to have lost much of its lethality and urgency.

But unfortunately, the global health crisis has also been a practical distraction – one that Russia and Vladimir Putin have used to launch an invasion of Ukraine. But Ukraine is only a small chapter in a big book. Other dictators, including China’s Xi Jinping, see global health, weather and economic disruptions as a smokescreen to consolidate their power and territory. What happened in Hong Kong is history; Taiwan is next. And other world powers understand that it is not always wise to defend their treaty allies. Imminent visions of a final world war suggest that the allies must relinquish their moral obligations and, instead, withdraw.

Nothing is sacred. All bets are off.

Here in Utah, we are faced with the prospect that Brigham Young’s predictions of the “desert, blooming like a rose” were perhaps a little premature, and that the Great Salt Lake Valley might be anything but the ‘This is the Place’ the paradise Young envisioned. Utahans are facing the reality that if the shrinking Great Salt Lake cannot be stopped, our magnificent scenic views could become stark, and this toxic dust hot could bring disease and death to our people The brine shrimp industry, which earns the state a $60 million annual bounty, would likely decline; migrating birds could lose their easy food supply; the maps postcards depicting tourists wriggling lightly on the surface of the lake might disappear.The Great Salt Lake is more than just a lake, and problem solvers are now talking about p river farmers of their vital water in order to save it.

Are you glad you woke up this morning? It’s a grim scenario. Some would say it’s the man in the sky causing Earth’s final moments. I say it’s just the capricious world, making a statement about its non-eternal nature.

And yet no one has a crystal ball and I am totally inadequate as a prophet. We must all remember that the monstrous natural gas pumps that Governor Norm Bangerter built to drain the then-rising waters of the Great Salt Lake were never used, and “Bangerter’s Folly,” as some have dubbed the project, was followed by the “generosity” of a few exceptionally dry years – a real blessing – which completely put an end to the risk of re-flooding the Grand Bassin and drowning its inhabitants.

So, be brave. Just when things seem most ominous, there’s always that glimmer of hope on the horizon. Somehow, with any luck, we might survive by using humanity’s remarkable collective intellect to solve the daunting problems of our world.

And, if a chicken appears at your doorstep, screaming for the sky to fall, wring its neck and enjoy a little chicken soup for the soul.

The author is a retired businessman, novelist, columnist, and former deputy public information officer in the Vietnam-era army. He lives in Riverton, Utah with his wife, Carol, and the beloved ashes of their mongrel dog.

About Joyce Hill

Check Also

FanX Salt Lake City brought epic costumes. Here are our favorites

Everywhere you look there’s someone dressed as their favorite movie or TV character in downtown …