Ring around the rosie,
A pocket full of posies,
We all fall down.
This nursery rhyme from the Middle Ages refers to the plague or the Black Death. To fend off the plague people would stuff their pockets with “posies” or flowers which they believed would protect them from the dread disease. The sneezing represented the last of the symptoms before dying and “falling down.”
It is the image of people and things “falling down” that has relevance to this current events essay. Speaking of things falling down, “What if a gale threatened to topple a skyscraper? It could have happened.” (1) The Citicorp Center building in midtown Manhattan, was the 7th tallest building in the world when it was built in 1978. Due to design error or construction error, it was determined that the building would fall over if high winds, like those from an East coast hurricane, reached 75 miles-per-hour.
A meteorologist, a structural engineer and the building’s designer met to define the problem. “They said there would be a domino effect if that were to happen. The dominos were already standing—the buildings. They were talking about 18 blocks being wiped out.” (1)
On September 1, 1978 a hurricane formed off the coast of Florida and began moving up the East coast. The repairs to stabilize the building had already begun. “Working at night, they welded steel plates onto giant chevrons that had previously been bolted together, strengthening the building.” (1)
Looking at our American community today it’s not hard to see the analogy. It’s collapsing, falling down, imploding like a building collapsing inward upon itself into a pile of rubble. Our institutions are the steel girders which are supposed to give the structure of our society its strength to withstand the buffeting stressful winds both within and from without. But do they?
- Education: Too expensive for some of our young people and doesn’t even teach the profound truths of where we are, who we are and why we find ourselves on this planet.
- Foreign policy: Eighteen years of “endless war” as we continue to alienate both our “enemies” and allies.
- Economy: The oligarchs continue to claim a disproportionate share of our nation’s GDP.
- Health care: If you are poor with no health insurance and are seriously ill you often can’t even get into a hospital.
The Gale-force winds are approaching and there is ample evidence that we are vulnerable to the plague of self-delusion. Click on the link below to learn how to reinforce the structures of our beliefs, attitudes and values in order that our community can survive.
Insight # 150: We have stone-age emotions, medieval institutions and godlike technology. – E. O. Wilson
- “Happiness Is the Pursuit of Security, Sensation and Power—Not!” in this blog and also in print version, The Human Community: Where we have been, Where we are now, Where we are going (2016), by Roy Charles Henry, pages 151-160.
- Dwyer, Jim. “Trust Our Weather Forecasters, Not Trump,” The New York Times Sunday Review, September 15, 2019, page 9.