It is particularly poignant at this point in our history as politicians (of all political persuasions) and pundits (of all levels of intelligence) attempt to poison the well by claiming the worldviews and opinions of those with whom they disagree are “Un-American,” meaning, “Not only do I disagree with X, but X is saying things that demonstrate he is against America and American values.” I have said in the past and continue to believe that these types of arguments are a threat to maintaining any degree of civil discourse in the United States. What they really say is this: “You’re not a part of us (the ‘real,’ ‘true’ America), therefore what you have to say isn’t important and I don’t have to listen to it.”
For The New Yorker, David Owen writes about the growing amount of artificial light that is muddling the boundaries between day and night. As someone who grew up in a relatively unpopulated area, I can attest to the marked difference experienced between walking outside and being able to see the Milky Way and thousands of stars in the night sky and looking up to see nothing more than a hazy glow from the thousands of streetlamps and other artificial lighting in the city.
Beyond the aesthetic concerns are health and environmental ones as well. The artificial lighting that has become common in the industrialized world could be contributing to higher rates of cancer, disruptions in wildlife, and just a general decline in the overall standard of living.
A University of Florida professor wrote an op-ed for Al-Jazeera English about what the future is likely to remember about America. I don’t agree with everything this guy says but he makes a few valid points. It’s an interesting read, but a difficult one as well.