“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Fate and Tempting Fate with Floods and Fire.
A life of full measure lies between eighty and ninety years, It is a span of no significance except to mankind. Things that occur outside that experience zone are thought to be unusual. They are not. For most of human history the life of one generation was exactly as the generations that both preceded and followed it. That is no longer so. Collective wisdom and knowledge about the real natural world has become less common.
Wealth, travel and communications allow people to visit and settle in places that wiser folk once avoided. Every year, including the coming winter we will hear about some small group who get lost and die on a winter pass, not because they are brave but because they are foolish. People drown and lose homes on hurricane prone beaches with regularity and predictability. Great rivers, whose banks once held marshes and now cities, flood with the regular change of seasons. Property and lives are lost on a calculated risk. Tempt fate and and you will sometimes lose.
So it is, in the season of fires, in the hills of California.
Fires on hill sides, that have been burning repeatedly for hundreds of thousand of years, are doing so again. The hills and canyons cannot remain as they are and be safe from fires. They can be made safe by changing them and destroying what they are. If people choose to live in such areas, then knowingly or not, they are tempting fate. That is their choice. They and politicians will likely demand that others share the consequences of their bad decisions. That is your fate.