Henry Rollins: A Not-So-Happy New Year

Henry Rollins: A Not-So-Happy New Year
Photo by Heidi May

Coming soon, no matter where you are, is 2016. The world watches America as it staggers into the dark future, rutting away with the blowup doll of its self-made myth. Bloated, belligerent and ready to shoot. No matter who becomes the next president, millions of Americans will hate her or him.

It’s difficult to hang in there with our species. We’re not bad, we’re just not that great. Actually, we really are quite awful, come to think of it. I like you, but I fear us.

There are a lot of living things on the planet — for now. Perhaps the most ill-suited for existence would be humans.

Good grief, are we weak. Organisms invisible to the naked eye wipe us out; allergic reactions to everything from an insect’s sting to nuts can cause death. Predators on land and in the sea can kill us off with little effort as we go out flailing, our final seconds spent trying for one last selfie.

We can’t run all that far or fast, climb all that well or endure for very long without water. Thinking of us in this way, we are simultaneously a miracle and, for Mother Nature and the planet, a vexing frustration. Both have conspired together since the beginning of human existence to bring human existence to an end — before we are able to do it to them. So far, we’re winning.

We laugh in the face of the natural order of things and keep on living. Our blood is full of vaccines and drugs. Our skin is covered with ointments and creams. We pay specialists to slice away our ugly parts or shove orbs inside of us, so we can look more attractive to others who would shun us if we didn’t monsterize ourselves. We cover our faces with colors and shades to disguise the fact that we’re shriveling up and drying out.

Please don’t think I’m implying that this is all on you and I’m not part of this pathetic riot of denial. I’m with you every step of the way!

The fact is that in the “real world,” Homo sapiens can’t cut it. While obvious, it’s rarely brought up. Why would it be? What good does it do any of us to conclude that none of us should be here, that we should have died off centuries ago, that modern medicine is cheating some higher power of its due?

Our intelligent design is so flawed that almost all of us should be recalled. Critters from ducks to snakes hatch out with all they need. You and me, not so much.

I am not suggesting that we should all hop off a cliff, but only that we frustrate the hell out of the Grim Reaper over and over again.

Wait, there’s more.

So dipped in arrogance, we are convinced that our rightful place is atop of the food chain, that the planet is ours to ransack and divest of its treasure — because after all, it was all put here for us by the Big Guy. All these beautiful animals are ours to slaughter. The oceans are huge, specifically to hold all the carbon dioxide we emit.

Photosynthesis, nature’s amazing oxygen maker, is a leftist, socialist fallacy, probably injected into the global conversation by scientists (heretics) and the Kenyan trickster, President Obama. It is obvious that if trees are sacrificed for financial progress, we’ll be OK. We’ll all just learn to expect less from our respiratory experiences. That is to say, global climate change is just so much coffeehouse, pseudo-intellectual, communist piffle.

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Does it seem like I’m saying that the human race is doomed? We are, absolutely. But take heart. There are at least two reasons not to despair right now: It will still take a while, and thousands of other animals will be dying off as well. So at least we won’t be “that species.” Our bloated corpses will be exploding in the sun along with other creatures domestic and exotic.

At this point, you might be wondering why I have chosen to subject you to such a depressing line of thought. It is fallout from my recent journey to the Antarctic Peninsula. I think about it every day.

The first sign of humankind’s pestering annoyance to the Earth showed itself to me when our small ship was several hours into the Drake Passage. The ship was slamming into waves and getting tossed around like a toy. Walls of white water smashed off the port side, covering me in spray. Only several feet away from the ship, waves melted perfectly into one another. The only thing wrong with the picture was our pathetic craft intruding upon this otherwise exquisite vastness.

Days later, when I stood on land as penguins walked up to me, pecked my boots, stared at me and then moved on, I understood what ruinous pains in the asses our species is. Every penguin, whale and seal I was lucky enough to see was beautiful, graceful and, most importantly, perfectly suited to the environment in which it lived.

Never in my life was I confronted with such displays of nature’s undisputable supremacy. There were visuals so stunning, they literally overwhelmed my comprehension. It was clear to me that every single thing there, alive or not, was essential, and I was nothing more than a parasitical, self-promoting bag of lethal neediness.

Thankfully, before I was totally consumed by self-disgust, I returned to the world as I knew it. As I was driving my car past Warner Bros., I once again took my place at the top of the predator pile. Homo sapiens Rex — master of all things, living or otherwise.

Buck up. In a few centuries or less, the last of us will choke out, cursing at the injustice of it all.

Happy 2016. We are Devo.

Look for your weekly fix from the one and only Henry Rollins right here every Thursday, and come back tomorrow for the playlist for his Sunday KCRW broadcast.


More from the mind of Henry Rollins:
Let's Invade Canada

Bend Over, America — Here Comes President Trump
I Am Basically a Vinyl Cat Lady

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