Intelligence is only occasionally about screaming. Mostly, it is about saying, â€śThis is pretty much what a reasonable person would expect.â€? The newspaper I read seems to me not to be setting a high enough standard for intelligence. It uses too many exclamation points. I can imagine a comparable paper charting the progress of a familyâ€™s year. â€śNew car!â€? â€śBigger house!â€? â€śGiant loan approved!â€? â€śCaribbean Vacation!â€? and then, three months later: â€śBig bills arrive!â€? â€śBank demands interest!â€? â€śCredit cards maxed out!â€? Whatâ€™s wrong about these headlines is, in each case, the exclamation point. There was nothing particularly wonderful about the good things, and there is nothing particularly surprising about the bad things, and they are all tied together in one pretty understandable package, called causality.
No one who thought was ever much in awe of strategies like using up cheap, non-renewable energy sources, failing to clean up our ongoing environmental messes, making rich enemies, selling weapons indiscriminately, using low levels of antibiotics for relatively trivial purposes, and encouraging psychologies in which desires grow without limit. No one who thought thought those strategies could be pursued forever.
Some newspapers have in their titles the word â€śintelligencer.â€? Could we please have one of those papers, locally or nationally, with all good speed? Why canâ€™t a paper start from two messages: (1) whatâ€™s happening economically is no more shocking than death, or trees losing their leaves, or the tide washing away your sandcastle, and (2) people have the opportunity, at this moment in history, to build a national order, political and economic, that respects reality, that understands causes, that lives in the world instead of floating somewhere above it.