A “meme” is an idea or action that people learn and pass to others. Some go back centuries, like the handshake, others spring up at any time. All the behaviors of any coherent social group including its style of dress and customs, grow from memes which come to characterize tribes, ethnic groups, and nationalities.
New memes constantly arise and can leap national borders like a virus can leap from one species to another. It can be a gesture, the “high five,” or a complex belief system like Scientology, which some might not characterize as a meme.
They might also not characterize the Arab Spring as a meme, though it leaps from Arab nation to Arab nation, inspiring protests and revolutions as once quiescent peoples demand rights. Americans understand and sympathize, but might not think that a “freedom meme” could take root here, a land already free.
But some Americans do not consider themselves free. Feeling trapped by laws, rules, services, and taxes, they seek freedom from what they consider too much government. There are also Americans whose faith says that they are captives in a world they will one day leave. Longing for freedom from Earth itself, they anticipate a rapturous departure to a better Reality. To both, a freedom meme has meaning. They form an odd yet potent alliance
In Arab lands, the freedom meme ushers in modernity while in America it makes one group yearn for a past when people were few, water pure, forests pristine. And to those awaiting the rapture, it makes perfect sense to brush off physical concerns of a temporary world.
Rick Perry, Mitt Romney, Michele Bachmann, and others deny evolution, global warming, and science itself, dismissing air pollution, poisoned oceans, decapitated mountains, and dying fish stocks. Whether in sincere belief or out of cynical opportunism, they are ready to pass a death sentence on Planet Earth and the life it supports. If you hope to bequeath a healthy planet to your great grand children, ignore such voices at their peril.