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Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Is This The World I Know?

I sat there staring at my Facebook Wall and my Twitter Feed, just watching all the news and headlines from around the world scroll into oblivion, with nothing gained or lost by a distant observer like myself. But today, well, today was different. From the blaring news on TV about issues dramatized beyond the norms of acceptable ridiculousness, to shocking headlines that seemed to surface for air momentarily, before sinking to the depths of secrecy, and fading out of existence. For a person who generally doesn't care too much about the World, the constant barrage was finally too much.

Been watching a lot of “alternate perspective” news, by which I refer to channels like and Al Jazeera who more than trying to be “hard-hitting award journalism” help present a different view of things. It's been interesting to see some of the analyses, particularly the financial analyses by Max Keiser of the Keiser Report, but more importantly, it's been interesting to see a focus on the real issues, and at the very least, the opposing views of the people involved in or affected by them. It was while browsing that I came to the bottom of the page of one of the images, I was taken aback by the collection of images in front of me. Here was I, looking at all kinds of situations play out, some happy and worth celebrating, while others were either funerary and required the appropriate respect and honor, or were just plain deplorable acts of inhumanity and needed to be decried. But it was all there, neatly arranged, in a grid, with headings, like a quick-glance state-of-the-world report. And I had to ask myself if this was really the kind of world I realized I was living in. Is this what I had signed up for, if in fact I did sign up for anything? Was this why I was brought into existence, and given life? To witness “this great big world” with all of its promises and dreams and bells and whistles go belly up?

It dawned on me that almost every single person goes through this sort of crisis, sometimes in a big ball of WTF, or in several smaller doses for much of their lifespan. We seem to be incapable of ignoring that painful pang that seems to gnaw away on the inside. And, ultimately, after all of the bombarding of ideas from everyone from the television to your own parents, friends and relatives about how things are, and/or should be, you find that no matter what they say, or anyone says, and no matter how hard you try to distance yourself from it all, or to inebriate yourself to remain in a constantly, uncaringly unaffected stupor, you cannot ignore it. Staring at my little netbook screen, I began to hear the chorus from “The World I Know” by Collective Soul, and in a strange way, it all came together beautifully in my head. I may not recognize or perhaps, may refuse to accept certain character flaws of the “world” that I ascribe to, but no matter what I try and do, I seem forced to accept it as imperfect. But this imperfection is different. It is both universal, and has existed since before there was humankind, or even Life, as we have come to call it. It is what we “civilized” folk have come to learn to view as “uncivilized” or “barbaric”, but in reality, this couldn't be further from the truth.

If human civilization is only 10,000 years old, those we offhandedly refer to as “tribals” and “forest dwellers” have been successfully following a lifestyle many millions of years old, perhaps. Human beings are now thought to have made their appearance almost 4.5 – 6 million years ago, and they did it without having to rely on transport to get them from place to place, or to be told what to do, how to think, and when and where to go to the bathroom. They lived. And they did so in harmony with nature. The first time I came across these ideas in Ishmael by Daniel Quinn, I thought my world had been turned upside down. Here was I, an educated, gainfully employed gentleman of 23, finding out that the entire process of “the normal life” as it played out in my own life and in those of others like me, was a huge and utter sham. I felt that way again today, staring down at these images that seemed to be haunting reminders, whether they were good or bad, of a life that we have come to not love, but to be addicted to. Perhaps this was the world I knew, or maybe it would be more accurate to say, this is the world I have learned to recognize, so that a fullscreen collage of pain, intolerance, death, destruction, environmental disaster, human tragedy, and so on, leaves me unflinchingly dead to it all. How pathetic is that, and really, what does it say about the weary existences we lead?
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