Hubris, Volcanic Ash and the Limitations of Politics

Okay, I’ll give a disclaimer up front.  I live in DC.   We as a city are politically obsessed.  I as a citizen am politically cynical. So I laughed out loud at Dana Milbank’s piece in The Washington Post last week about Congress’ efforts to address future volcanic eruptions: I loved his writing and perspective.

There is nothing that Congress can’t solve if they put their mind to it.  Not.  There are just a few things in life that fall in the “stuff happens” category.  Which can also be termed an “act of God.”  Which, ultimately, is out of the hands of our political machines.  This line summed up the article for me:

“The briefing, coinciding with the Icelandic volcano eruption that has foiled air travel in Europe, was a timely reminder that there is no problem to which Congress cannot apply itself — even something as inherently uncontrollable as volcanoes. You can’t bomb them, you can’t impose sanctions on them, and our drones are no match for their cones. But Congress can do to volcanoes what it does to everything else: It can spend money on them.”

Lord, help us.  Really.  Help us.  We have no idea what our sphere of influence is, and what it’s not.  I’m quite sure that I don’t know much about what this Hazards Caucus does, and maybe it’s quite handy and helpful.

Yet generally, it is so valuable for me to realize my limits (and the limit is quite low; I really have control over very little.  I could barely stop myself from eating more than the amount of candy I decided to have after dinner).  It is valuable for us as a nation to realize what is in our scope to control and what is not.

It is valuable for us to realize that we can elect people, well-meaning, good people —  and that, still, they cannot fix the world, nature, even their own lives.  We’re all pretty small, pretty finite.  And even Congressional caucuses are no match for volcanic ash.


~ by Cary on April 25, 2010.

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