Humanity! You’re Doing It Wrong!
I think most of us are in agreement by now, that life is a finite experience – over the course of which you build up experiences, and you make your decisions and get on with the whole damn thing.
You’ll probably have also noticed that there are lots of other people living their lives, and doing things in different ways.
However, I’ve come to the realisation that a lot of things aren't set up this way – rather than a continuous evolving/developing consciousness – society seems to resist change greatly:
There are plenty of rules and regulations inherent in day to day life that are inflexible, or even have no logic behind them any more, after so many years of ‘just being like that’.
An obvious example would be religion in the traditional sense – Same stories, rules, ideas, etc.; handed down over the generations, with little room for consideration of the developing world.
Obviously many religious groups are hastily changing tack on this – e.g. the Catholic Church revisiting their dogma about contraception – but they are still going to be limited by their overall principles that have existed ‘since time immemorial’, and they are going to eventually seem even more farcical by trying to mesh the developments of the world around their pretty immobile core beliefs/teachings.
I don’t like to stick it all to religion though – so how about newspapers as well?
Whilst there is the over-arching template of what a newspaper is [although this is soon to change from paper to electronic], and yet whilst the content of these change daily – the underlying opinions are still there: “The Sunday Chronicle” is still broadly a supporter of political party X, with leanings towards Y (as an example).
And yes, I know that papers have radically changed their allegiances over things like Iraq, but these were still delivered in the style of that particular paper – The Sun still has to act like The Sun, otherwise it wouldn't be The Sun, would it?
Everything is set up as a giant meme [meme as in the Dawkins sense of the word, not the hilarious chunks of procrastination you’ll find nestling on LiveJournal] – there has to be a sense of continuity – a sense of tradition – a sense of history.
But i’m disputing this.
As I mentioned at the start – each and every one of us has only a finite amount of time on our hands, and we can only get to form opinions on a certain amount of things, and act on a certain amount of impulses.
To put it more eloquently, I shall steal a lyric from Tim Minchin:
And the weirdest thing about a mind
Is that every answer that you find
Is the basis of a brand new cliche
^ What I get from that is that everything you say/think/do could become a catchphrase – a leitmotif – a saying that gets passed around – a joke that gets repeated throughout the world.
As an example – say I hit upon the idea of having a polka-dot Ferrari. Bright yellow with pink spots I think. So I rob a small bank, and then walk into my local Ferrari dealer and say; “one yellow and pink polka-dot Ferrari please.” At which point they say “I’m sorry, we don’t do yellow and pink ones. It’s red, yellow or grey.”
Society/Religion/The Establishment/The Echoes of The Years are the dealership; they are saying ‘i’m sorry, but you can only do this, this way – or; you can only think these three ways.
Instead of listening to the wisdom of the ‘now’, a lot of what we base things on are dated – from the past.
There are, of course, a number of obvious objections to my thinking:
- Traditions/Religious Outlooks/An overall continuity of ideas – these things provide great comfort to people. Knowing that you’re more than a finite existence, through an afterlife or reincarnation, is a great comfort to people – I agree. I don’t begrudge anyone that belief.
But to extend beyond that, to influencing our laws, rules, statues, ways of doing things? No.
You only have to look at examples in America where Christianity influences state laws – or in countries where the rulers are not to be questioned and the way they do things is the way the whole country should do things.
- History is useful. It teaches us things!
A trickier one to argue against; but I’m not suggesting that we become ignorant – that we only think about the now; the global warming brigade will like us to think that our ‘thinking of the future’ is a good thing – and, by temporal contrast; remembering the lessons of the past (obvious example being the holocaust), we can make sure bad things don’t happen again.
Obviously, I don’t want past mistakes to be re-made – but that should only serve as a reminder. We shouldn't be instructed by the past: At the slightest hint of oppression of people should others be able to cry (in a Fawlty-esque manner) “This is exactly how Nazi Germany started!”. Yes, the BNP getting more access to government is a bad thing, but doesn't automatically mean that Britain will become a fascist regime.
Not so much in the political/religious arenas, but there is also a problem with history; with the digital age upon us, there is going to get more and more of it.
I’ve made this point a few times over the place – we’re going to end up with more and more films; more and more books; more and more games; more and more of everything.
You have to accept that stories will be remade (there’s only a finite number of them after all); hopefully in new and interesting ways [THAT’s the essence of entertainment, not the stories/music themselves - it’s the way they are presented to us]. Okay so they’re going to remake Karate Kid – admittedly in such a short time frame as a few decades, with the original fans still alive and very much kicking – but give it a few more years and they’ll start to get it right – they won’t start remaking films until a good half of a lifetime, at least, has passed since the original – and it will genuinely have a new appeal to the next generation.
That’s just one example – but it focuses on my final point: Humanity is constantly renewing itself, both on a global and local level [I learnt from QI the other day that our own bodies are generally at most 10 years old, as they completely renew themselves constantly!]:
By all means, look to previous trends in history (and the internet should be the source for documenting/sharing that) – and if you find bad trends, avoid them or approach them differently – or if they’re good trends, revisit them – but in your own particular idiom.
Don’t store up rules/ideas/philosophies/outlooks without good reason and logic behind them: Remember that no-one other than you is existing at this exact point in space/time; they never have, and they never will.
Only you know where you’re coming from and where you’re going to – and whilst the global consciousness can inform your decision, if you so choose – don’t forget that you are the master of yourself, living in a shared experience that you can shape. And not the other way around.