In this verse the storm is a tyrannical winged man. He might just as easily have been a whirling dervish or a dancer or a singer. They all chase us south along.
Are the ideas that capture people’s imaginations much different from storms? They come spinning up out of nowhere, and vanish back into nowhere, again and again and again. For a while they take a grip on people, and suck in millions, and then relax their hold.
A pop star who sings a catchy tune, which becomes a big hit, is someone who manages to catch people’s imaginations with a bit of music. For a while he’ll become a sought-after somebody. But a few months later, when people have grown bored of it, he’ll be forgotten, and go back to being a nobody.
It’s the same with ideas. They also can grip people’s imaginations. And people can become as possessed by them as by a catchy tune. Becoming a Nazi, or a Communist, or a Muslim jihadi entails being caught up in an idea-storm of some sort. So was becoming a hippie or a Bob Dylan fan. You got picked up and tossed around, like leaves on the wind. But after a while the storm blows over.
Tobacco Control is yet another idea- or belief-system that has been sweeping the world. It’s an idea-hurricane that seems to have been born in California (like many other ideas) and been tracking slowly across the world ever since. The adherents that are caught up in this belief system ascribe all disease to tobacco, and to nothing else. It’s a very simple belief system, and it’s probably from out of this simplicity that its power grows, just like the hook of a simple tune.
A more recent storm system of ideas is that of Climate Alarmism. This also is very simple. The adherents of this one believe that the climate is controlled by carbon dioxide, and by nothing else. And now there are millions of people now living in terror of a trace gas in the atmosphere (like poor little Greta Thunberg).
One might think of the First World War as a superstorm, or mega-hurricane. What else is happening when millions of men blaze away at each other for years with rifles and machine-guns and howitzers, demolishing entire cities, devastating great swaths of land. By what kind of madness were they all gripped? They were caught up in a great storm. And nobody really knows where the storm came from, or why it became so ferocious, and why it eventually blew itself out.
If you’re caught in one of these storms, all you can do is sit tight, hang on to the furniture, and hope that you don’t get blown away or shredded to pieces or drowned. You really just have to endure it. For after a while the storm will lose strength, and the wind will drop.
Hurricanes and typhoons are simply large masses of warm, humid air that press upon each other, and become entrained in whirling motion together. We’re always being subjected to these swirling air masses, but more usually as light breezes or gentle zephyrs. And it’s the same with ideas. We’re always hearing spoken words (which are also formed in warm, humid air), and usually they’re quiet conversations. But sometimes the voices get raised, and everyone starts shouting, and a new storm breaks over us all.
I think people are now about as tired of Tobacco Control as they’ve got tired of storms or hurricanes or simple tunes. After a while these things become oppressive. It’s got boring. You can see the straws in the wind:
‘If they don’t like it, stuff ’em’: Farmer gives a hilarious response as he refuses to put out his cigarette after journalist asks him to extinguish it.
Better still when the zealots like Stanton Glantz start contradicting themselves:
Using e-cigs increases exposure to toxic chemicals for most users; they would be better off just smoking.
One day soon, Tobacco Control will cease to exist. And people will wonder what all the fuss was about. They’ll ask: Did they all go mad? It’ll be the same with climate alarmism too. And everything else as well.