“The Time to Act is Not Now,” by Mike Fowler

Aug 14th, 2019 | By | Category: Fake Nonfiction, Prose

In my recently published article “Don’t Change a Thing, People,” which is nominated for several prizes, I discuss in detail the many reasons why we must put off for now solving the problems that most vex us. The main reason, as I clearly and even eloquently state in “Thing,” is that nothing useful can be done at this time. This simply isn’t the year or even century when the most pressing issues facing mankind can be resolved either entirely or in part. Time is fleeting, and in large part has fled quite a ways distant from us, to another galaxy. The time we should have spent getting things under control is now hovering around in space somewhere, lost to us forever. Now is not the time to even think of solving weighty issues, but rather, we should place them on a metaphysical shelf for safe keeping. Then we must wait for a new era and see what other problems have cropped up to take our mind off them. To suggest a different approach is to waste precious time, as I have explained elsewhere, notably in my book The Situation Calls for Paralysis, now being considered by Ophra for her book club. To sum up my argument there, it is this: If we did something now, it would only makes matters worse, or have no effect at all. Only very rarely would anything positive result from acting now.

Among the greatest problems we should avoid trying to solve is one people often phrase in an infuriatingly ambiguous way: There are too many people, they say. It isn’t clear if what is meant is that the lines are too long at the phone store and traffic to the mall is backed up, or if people mean something more sinister, namely that the planet will soon be exhausted by countless demands for plastic forks and diet cola. While it seems that any day the store must be sold out of wheat bread and organic chicken, science continues to find new ways to extract food from soil and meat from birds. There are now solitary turkeys big enough to feed an entire village, and cows that give not only milk but stout. For that reason this isn’t the time to definitely or even tentatively suggest an answer to this age-old dilemma. Let us show a little patience here and keep our fears to ourselves, no matter how terrifying we find them. We’ll come back to this one in a couple, three years. By then the problem will be intractable, if it isn’t already. If your IQ is at least 100, I’m sure you’ll agree with me.

Another example of a pressing problem that can safely be ignored for now is this: How can we prevent our changing climate from destroying us, and what will extraterrestrials tell us about this problem when we finally meet up? In my 2018 essay “Three Cheers for Inertia”, I analyze this concern into two distinct issues: One, how can we prevent our changing climate from killing us, and two, what will the extraterrestrials say about it when we finally meet up? When you put the matter like that, it is abundantly clear that there is nothing to do, and that the status quo is by far the preferred course. How could any reasonable person disagree? While the fanatics fight this one out, it is best to prudently do nothing. Those space aliens will admire you for it.

Another seeming obstacle to human happiness may be expressed this way: Every day the gap between the rich and the poor grows wider. You can see this gap and measure it with a ruler. The top 1 percent of income earners now controls 99 percent of all income. To make matters worse, our leaders don’t care, and it’s probably no coincidence that they are in the top 1 percent of income earners. Is it not time for a revolution?

The short answer to this is no, it is not time for a revolution. Not now. Maybe later. For the exact time, and a longer answer to this tricky quandary, see chapter 4 of my book Just Lie There Dozing. For now, it is time to prudently do nothing. Remember the man who, after leaping off a mile-high cliff into a quarry, said to himself, If only I’d hesitated a while longer, I might not now be plunging to my certain death into a pile of granite, though a moment ago it seemed like a wise choice. Don’t be like that man.

Finally let me touch upon the issue that I know is uppermost in your minds. Many of you have told me that you are thinking this: Everyone is out only for himself or his group. There is no more agreement about anything and society is being torn apart by warring factions. Disabled Phillipino transvestite acrobats won’t even give the time of day to white cis hetero war vets, and vice versa. Isn’t it time to do something to bring us back to the days of common goals and a united experience, as is summed up in the phrase e pluribus unum (from many, one)? Yes, we should do something right this second, before it’s too late! I’m only kidding. The answer is no, we shouldn’t do anything. Where there is profound disagreement among parties, the best response is silence. Silence, coupled with inaction, are key here. Never doubt their conjoined power.

You really should just sit down and relax. It isn’t time to do anything about anything yet. As a well-informed person who may appear on TV someday, I’ll let you know if that changes, but so far it hasn’t. It still isn’t the right time to act, not yet. Care deeply, if you wish to, but no more. The time to act has long passed.


Defenestration-Michael Fowler

Mike Fowler has been in Defenestration so many times he practically owns stock in the magazine. And by stock, of course, we mean delicious waffles. He’s all about self-promotion these days, so go buy his book.

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