Tuesday, July 28, 2015

An Analogy

The piece below is fiction. Or is it?

So, I was walking along the road with an acquaintance when we noticed that a house across the way was on fire. The fire hadn’t spread very far yet . Fearing that there might be people inside, and figuring there was still a chance to save the place, or at least save some of the stuff inside, I started across the road. My companion grabbed me and pulled me back.

“Wait! Was that fire started by a human? Or was it lightning caused it?”

“What does it matter?” I yelled, trying to pull away. “There may be people in there!”

The man would not let me go. “The important thing,” he said, “is whether we need to blame a ‘who’ or a ‘what.’

By now, the whole first floor of the house was engulfed with flames. I jerked free of his grip and took off toward the fire. The man tackled me from behind and in another moment was sitting on top of me so that I couldn’t get up.

“A who or a what?” the man yelled at me. “If it was humans started it, that’s one thing. Then we could act. But if it was lightning then that’s nature and we just have to let it burn.”

“Get off me!” I screamed.

He wouldn’t. “I think it was lightning,” he said. “We’re just going to have to let it burn.”

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21 comments:

R.T. said...

Color me baffled. Perhaps I should have studied more in the ethics course. However, I have this thought: if life is in danger, we must act, regardless of the danger's origins. Yes? No? Still, your parable has me baffled.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Are you meaning the Lord's will be done? Wait, that doesn't make sense. If something is wrong, we should fix it no matter the cause? I'm lost...

Ty said...

Charles, you forgot the character who doesn't even believe the fire is there.

David Cranmer said...

The guy must be walking with a lawyer... of sorts. And its so nuts it must be real.

Charles Gramlich said...

R. T., an analogy for how some folks seem to act toward global warming.

Alex, related to global warming.

Ty, indeed.

David, a lawyer! *shudder*

Lisa Meserve said...

Excellent analogy!

Charles Gramlich said...

Lisa, thankee

Cloudia said...

One of your famous dreams!

G. B. Miller said...

Never would've thought it was about global warming. First guess would've been an extremely funky dream.

But now the song "Fire" by The Crazy World of Arthur Brown is rumbling through my head at the moment.

Father Nature's Corner

Prashant C. Trikannad said...

Maybe, a wildfire caused it, Charles. But that still doesn't answer the question "who" or "what."

Angie said...

Of course it's global warming. And yeah, getting caught up in what's causing it is sort of missing the point. [sigh]

Angie

Charles Gramlich said...

Cloudia, not, but I can see why it might seem so. Sounds like one of them.

G. B., a good learning experience for me about the use of analogies.

Prashant, indeed, that just pushes the cause back a bit

Angie, way too much of that in the whole discussion.

R.T. said...

Charles, your explanation seems to imply "global warming" is a settled-science reality. Am I out of line if I suggest that "climate change" (whether man-made or natural event) is not settled scientific fact but remains theory. My mind is open to the theoretical considerations, but -- as in any scientific theory -- acts based on theory must be cautiously experimental rather unreasonably prescriptive. I recall so many things scientists have gotten wrong in history. I remain undecided about the question of "climate change," so perhaps I do not wholeheartedly "buy in" to your analogy because the premise is not settled science. But, then again, I might be misreading the analogy. Tell me where I am wrong. Nevertheless, the analogy/parable remains interesting and provocative, and that -- it seems to me -- is the brief for any science/speculative fiction writer: offer the "what if" scenario and see what happens.

sage said...

I like it... There are good lessons here.

Oscar said...

I was too much in the moment to recognize global warming. I was thinking of the nut on top of him preventing him from getting any people out.

Charles Gramlich said...

R. T., the earth has warmed dramatically over the last fifty years. That is established scientific fact. The debate has been how much of this warming is due to human actions and how much is natural. The natural aspects of the warming include being between ice ages, as well as natural variations in the sun and a host of other concepts including volcanic gas release, methane release, etc. The rate of increase has been so rapid, however, that human activity involving dumping greenhouse gases is clearly a factor. How much of a factor is still being debated. The fact is, though, that climate change, generally that means overall warming of the earth, is going to have major consequences for humanity. Even if humans had nothing to do with warming at all, cutting our atmospheric emissions and seeking alternative fuels just makes good sense in the long run for both us and our planet.

Sage, thanks, man.

Oscar, you're like me. I'm often more literal minded than what writers of satire and humor intend. I can probably only see it since I made it up,

Riot Kitty said...

I'm super curious now. Spill it...

Charles Gramlich said...

Riot Kitty, climate change.

X. Dell said...

You know, that actually sounds like a dream.

Erik Donald France said...

Burn, baby, burn.

Scary stuff from here on out.

jodi said...

Charles-Maybe you have to watch for live wires? Not a dream-this could happen. Disco Inferno, Erik?