As a teenager, a nocturnal creature, I am somebody who sleeps all afternoon (or does nothing relevant) and then works hard in those last hours before bedtime, later tossing and turning as I cannot get to sleep.
It’s now half past eleven in the evening and I have only just finished an essay I had slightly underestimated. We were given a text from 1925, when the world was between wars, new technology and machines were being developed at an overwhelming speed, revolutions and blood-shed had rearranged the world completely. Our assignment was to compare then and now.
There was a lot to compare.
Consumerism is our best friend, always wanting more, newer technology. Everything is automatic, everything is more efficient. People can be killed through a drone – no people in it, just a button and a screen and many, many deaths. Cold and efficient.
Without repeating my entire essay, writing it got me thinking.
My first thought was that for example my generation grew up with everything being done for us. Life is made easy by machines and technologies. We have instant access to any kind of information or short-term satisfaction, we are always connected. The computer even thinks for us.
So then I thought: Would we – the digital generation – even manage to survive without all these things that just do the work for us? What if one of us – I – went to a place where there is hardly any of that technology. No smartphones, no dishwashers, no cars.
It would have to be somewhere remote, somewhere simple – a developing country.
Before today I have already thought that calling somewhere a developing country is a very arrogant thing to say. I remember I once had a discussion (a friendly one, don’t worry) with my dad and he said something about that the colonial thinking (We are better than you – you’re not even a person) has mostly passed in the modern world, but doesn’t the term developing state suggest that there is a state to develop towards, therefore a state that is above another?
I live in an industrial state. Apparently the best type of state you can strive for before you reach utopia.
What do we have? More than enough food for everybody, products that come at such a high number, in such a variety, at such speed, we can’t decide what we want. Machines, faster, more efficient technologies, miraculous medicine, splendid entertainment and a ravishing social life.
Then how come most of our products are made in Bangladesh or Turkey, China or India by workers that earn next to nothing for doing more hours of work than we would expect from a Western workaholic? How come we have so much food that people suffer from obesity, while the fashionable refuse to eat? How come tons of food is thrown away every day, wasted? How come we have so many new technologies that we are never satisfied with anything? Our doctors and scientists defy the laws of nature and push further and further until we are free to do whatever we want, so that our morals are questioned and must be redefined – as damage is only ever noticed when it’s already done. How come Hollywood stars, with all the world celebrating them, swallow anti-depressant pills because all have ever done is judge them, when we should have been celebrating them? And what of our social life? I have 342 friends on Facebook, those closer to me saved as contacts in my phone and those even closer in my Skype favorites. But when are we ever intimate? When we go out to dinner with our friends while constantly checking our phones for news? When we chat to a cute guy online, then meet him and realize you don’t have that much to talk about, as all you did was to send emoticons.
The only time we are not superficial is in those rare, treasured moments, when people aren’t posting pictures of the sun and instead enjoying it, actually interacting.
So this is what developing states are headed for?
In expressionism (our current topic in German class), some poets would criticize the city during industrialisation, would describe everything as monotone, all the people melting together to one brick wall with nothing to live for but sin. Poets like Georg Trakl saw the solution in religion, finding back to god. Honestly I don’t see why you have to go from one extreme to another.
But why change from following the laws of consumerism to following the laws of any religion?
Up until now it has always been the west against the east, capitalism against communism. Both claimed to be the best.
How about admitting to have flaws. So many flaws, in fact, that there should not be a competition at all! It’s all shit!
And how about considering that the all the so-called industrial states are in fact developing states. To what? Don’t know, but we certainly are far from reaching it, if there is anything at all.
In politics class our teacher defined peace at it is written in our fat, heavy book: Peace is when there is no war, when relationships between countries are stable and the people within the countries are quiet.
To me, peace goes deeper than that.
Peace is when there is no war and no reason for war, when there are no weapons to fight a war with, when there is no oppression, when there is no annoying superiority, no rivalry. Peace is more than coexistence, to me. Peace is a world of people from different cultures interacting, accepting, exchanging ideas. Peace is when every individual is at peace with itself and the world. Peace has no suffering.
One theory of many is that there is a bit of the truth in every model that is said to be fact. If you look at the different religions, for example, there is always a flood. The bible explained with the wrath of god and Noah saved all the animals, in Hinduism it was a fish, the rebirth of Vishnu, who warned a king to gather specimen of every plant and animal before a massive flood would arrive that would wash the earth clean of sin. Then there is an American-Indian tale of a very large flood where everything was simply swept away, though it’s been a long time since I last heard it. In greek mythology Zeus got angry at Prometheus and sent a large flood, but his son Deucalion and his wife Pyrrha were warned by titans, so they built a ship to survive it. Probably there are many more tales of a large flood in other religions and cultures.
So maybe there really was a “sin flood”. Apparently they’ve found what they believe to be Noah’s Arc on a hilltop in Turkey. (An article by the Daily Mail to relieve me from telling you all the details: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1269165/Noahs-Ark-remains-discovered-mountain-Turkey.html )
Who knows, maybe there were quite a few people all around the world who had the same idea: Water -> Boat. Religion has always been mankind’s way to explain things that seem unexplainable. Maybe they were all correct. But it seems that each and every religion – those who have “survived” at least – insists on being the one, right, real thing and maybe thereby missing out on the truth.
So what if that’s the way for other things too? Forms of state, forms of society, ways to reach “Utopia”.
I know I’ve come off completely from my original message, but I guess this’ll do too.
So, to finish off, think about this. Maybe we’re not as great as we think we are. Maybe we are just a minor piece gradually solving a puzzle.