I’ve been meaning to write out this post for some time now – the basic idea has been rattling around my brain cavity for a while – but for various reasons (my innate laziness, time constraints and “writers block” are jointly to blame) it’s been bobbing around without anything to show for it. But now we’re here and it’s on! It’s not a pretty or happy post however, it’s meant to be a very raw and real one on something I think we all need to think about – so bear with me folks.
I’d like to start by sharing this little extract:
“Human beings delude themselves that a League of Nations or Protection or armies and navies are going to give them security and civilization in their jungle.” According to the narrator, who is an elephant, humans “are the savagest race of carnivora known in the jungle, and they will never be happy and civilized, and the world will never be safe for democracy or for any other animal, until each human animal is confined in a separate cage.”
This is from an essay called “Fear and Politics” which is essay number 7 in the first series of Hogarth Essays which begun in 1924 by it’s author, Leonard Woolf, and his very famous wife – the poet Virginia Woolf. They were published by their own publishing house/label called the Hogarth Press and there were three volumes/series published in all.
I post this here not to show that people are inherently bad or anything of that nature – in fact I don’t entirely agree with that. Personally I find people are simply people and while sometimes one can overtake the other in terms of influence, we are largely products of our environment, upbringing and genetics in concert. That does not however mean we are all naturally good either – just so it’s said.
What I’m focusing on today is not the good or evil in man however, my intention is to talk about how some things are inherent but today we’ve crossed a line somewhere and life itself has become spiritually far worse than it ever should have been. To initiate the point, another quote – though I ask that you bear in mind that the source of the quote is not a person to be admired or anything, that fact doesn’t change the truth of his words:
The people don’t want war, but they can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. This is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and for exposing the country to danger. It works the same in every country.” (- Hermann Goering)
There are times when rallying your people and creating patriotic fervour is desired, especially when the nation is genuinely under threat and similar times, but those don’t happen as often as we think anymore – not to your average country anyway – and in fact what worries me is the pervading “Culture of Fear” that is not just prevalent in America (where at least they talk about it in some form), but here in India and all over the world. People are more and more insulated and in what feels like the strangest sense of denial about the bigger picture around them and even in this amazingly accessible and free information age, we still choose to live in bubbles and be herded like sheep.
There is an idiom known as Wag the Dog and it “means to purposely divert attention from what would otherwise be of greater importance, to something else of lesser significance. By doing so, the lesser-significant event is catapulted into the limelight, drowning proper attention to what was originally the more important issue.”
Tell me if this doesn’t sound like almost everything in the news except that which is unavoidable like a building under siege or tsunami’s or earthquakes. There are many who still try and struggle and fight to bring us the facts and conduct themselves as genuine reporters and news men and women, but unfortunately the vast majority in my opinion are happier in their biased bubbles of security where they fling dirt when they are supposed to, divert attention when they are required to and are known in the general public to never be 100% reliable except by the more gullible members of our society who will believe anything they see on the news/TV. All this of course compounded by the ideas and social expectations and distractions and nonsense that the overload of not just TV and movies but clearly utter rubbish programming (you know what I refer to and you know its shite!) that we can’t help but watch for some reason.
It’s like watching a train wreck or a car crash or a murder – you know it’s terrible and you should be feeling revulsion and possibly even wondering what we’ve become, but you – can’t – stop – looking at it. Am I wrong?
Couple this with politics globally being now so much a mud-flinging and PR game (to me more so than I’ve ever known it to be) and no issue ever getting resolved the way it should. Parliament in India to me is like a drunken man trying to walk a straight and narrow line with one leg jerking in one direction and the other not cooperating and in turn jerking elsewhere – tell me if I’m wrong but those reading this who live in the U.S will find this eerily familiar to the way their own Congress has been operating for some time now.
The end result? Politicians and those in power keep playing their games and it’s the average citizen who ends up getting jerked around – although not willingly and definitely not even in the good way if I may be so crass.
That covers the FEAR part of the post title – what about the loathing? Well that I refer to as going hand in hand with the fear because there seems to be an air of disrespect and pretense and mockery to so much now. I can’t believe any political figure or prominent businessman or even a great many people in daily life who profess sincerity and smile and give all the right assurances and blah, blah, blah… but behind the smile are too often sneers and derision and no intention of doing what is required but first and foremost that which serves a vested interest best. Everything else comes secondary if it can be at all helped. I say this as someone who loves to watch the world news and views unfold and who has been (and still is) in the business world and see’s how a great many – again, not all – comport themselves and how everything is about that one more ace up the sleeve.
All this of course exacerbated by the inevitable insanity that organised religion brings to the table. Every basic spirituality in all religions shares a common thread of humanity which, sadly, has become like a candle-wick in a hurricane amidst the shit-storms that fanaticism, intolerance and mindless communalism that is becoming more and more common – and all in fact are showing a frighteningly growing trend for society to be moving backwards rather than forward. Something I think things like the ongoing “war on women” and the new laws being discussed in Egypt to effectively allow necrophilia within marriage and other disturbing trends corroborate quite clearly.This cheeky little line from a stand-up show by Christopher Titus sort of came to mind at this point:
“Wherever there is hope, I will stop it! Where self-esteem rears its shiny head, I will be there to kick it in the testicles!”
Seems fairly apt to me when talking about some of the folks, events and matters being talked about here, don’t you think?
BUT. (And there is a little but here.)
The world is not a nightmare and as I maintain always, not everyone falls under the “bad” category. I think that given the opportunity the average person from pretty much any part of the world just wants to live a good and happy life, have a family, try and make their dream careers a reality and things like that. In a sense they want to have the happy bubble that they are all trying desperately to create and cocoon themselves in even today, except that the dark cloud of perpetual and endless garbage that we now live under always chips and batters away at it and it’s never complete.
You see hope and goodness to your fellow man and all these things are very real and exist and amazing things happen every single day – people developing new and sustainable ways to live in a harder new world, projects to save those considered beyond help, dictators and despots being fought bravely against, corruption being questioned and democracy being exercised, science and our understanding of the universe growing daily and of course breakthroughs of all kinds in everything from medicine to art just to name a few. Those are larger things, even on a smaller scale people help out strangers, donate time and money to causes out of desire and not happy-person-guilt and all kinds of things.
Unfortunately most of this will never make it to the big news (even though it should) and when it does make news its either relegated to a small column or two inside somewhere or in a few lucky cases, picked up by more comedicaly inclined TV figures who share it with us. Take as an example a project that was recently announced (which I’ve got a nice post all set and ready about for this coming weekend!) that a company financed by the two top guys at Google and James Cameron and a former senior member of NASA and new company are actually working to mine asteroids. I’m serious – they want to mine asteroids. In space. But how many of you saw this as big news in the mainstream news? How many people will even be aware this IS news at all? And who’s fault is that? Well sadly it’s just as much ours as anyone else’s because the media feeds us what it knows we want to eat. It’s that simple. Like the crappy reality shows and terrible movies that pander to the lowest denominator and such, they all are done that way because for the most part – It Works.
So what is my conclusion and point in all this?
Well nothing overt or obvious really. Now don’t get mad, it’s not a clear point but there is a semblance of one and a reason for the ambiguity.
You see I want people to start thinking again. I want them to read and express themselves honestly. I want people to stop being pushed around and believing everything they are spoon-fed. I want (to paraphrase a favourite) people to stop fearing their governments and for the governments to start fearing their people. I want to see self-interest and apathy to stop gaining ground and for people to embrace self-respect and empathy for their fellows. I want not a utopia, but a fair and honest society where we can have all the friction and differences that make human society the diverse wonder it is, but be able to resolve our differences without resorting to either a cold war or denial or ignorant hate-mongering.
Life’s too short (as I annoyingly keep telling people) and if you think you have perhaps no more than a couple of years to live – maybe less – ask yourself what kind of world you want to be living those days in, what do you want to be like when you reach your end and what is the legacy you personally want to leave behind?
I wouldn’t want to be a legend or a national hero or anything like that, but to those close to me and in my own heart I would want to say I lived as a good person with as close to no regrets as humanly possible and have the people whose opinions I actually care about to remember me well.
Death comes with a crawl or with a pounce,
And whether he’s slow or spry,
It isn’t the fact that you’re dead that counts,
But only how did you die.
– Michael O’Donaghue
Morbid? Wasn’t meant to be, but if you understand what I was going for in all this (and I hope you do) then you would not find it so and that gives me a little more hope for tomorrow. It’s time for the tail to stop being the one in charge.
I leave you with this song that is one of the most funnily heart-breaking tracks from possibly the most under-rated musical talent I’ve ever known, Mr. Warren Zevon.
Till the next one folks, cheers!