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© Glendon Mellow, The Flying Trilobite

30. What Vonnegut said, or maybe didn’t

(Post 30 of 33 in my 16-hour shift for the Secular Student Alliance Blogathon.)

10:30 pm EDT

Kurt Vonnegut once said something that changed my life. At least I think it was Vonnegut.

Lemme start over.

Somebody once said this incredible thing that instantly changed my perspective and lowered my blood pressure, permanently. I think it was Vonnegut, I’d have sworn it was Vonnegut, but try as I might over the years, I’ve never been able to find it again.

It was something like this: “When I was a young man, I used to get very upset because the world was not as good as it could be. But once I learned more about how we evolved, and the mess of a brain we’re carrying around in our heads, I was struck by amazement that we ever get anything right.” Something like that.

Whatever it was, it turned my head around. It’s true, you know. Given what we are, given the jury-rigged dog’s breakfast we call a brain, we really should have vanished in a smoking heap long ago. Instead, we’ve done some pretty amazing and wonderful things, large and small. Yes, there’s a lot of nonsense and mess, we all get that. We devote huge energies to killing each other. But we devote even more time to not killing each other. We are cruel and stupid, but not full time, despite our faulty, fearful programming. And we sometimes let people merge in traffic, and refrain from hating and fearing someone our Paleolithic brain tells us we should really, really hate and fear.

It just ought to be so much worse than it is. I think there’s something to be said for tempering our outrage with a sigh of relief, just once in a while.

I’m holding that quote for 90 days. If Vonnegut doesn’t claim it, then I said it.

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This was written on Sunday, 10. June 2012 at 22:37 and was filed under Uncategorized. You can keep up with the comments to this article by using the RSS-Feed.

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