Prologue to…

 For all the progressive thinking quite a few people do, it just gets worse and worse. As future great Jeff Thiessen of Saskatoon, Canada put it in semi-disgust: “This is not a world run by those who feel, it’s run by those who strive not to feel, since little things like empathy and heartfelt gestures get in the way of the big picture.” Maybe it is all just a fight, maybe compassionate thinking is just the wrong way to go about living. I’m sure that a good 98% of all problems on Earth come about simply because people don’t give a shit about one another, so I try to give a shit. But…

But I could hear, behind my anxious broadcast, the amused laughter of my greatest rival; and there was Shiva in all our heads, saying scornfully, ‘No, little rich boy; there is no third principle; there is only money-and-poverty, and have-and-lack, and right-and-left; there is only me-against-the-world! The world is not ideas, rich boy; the world is no place for dreamers or their dreams; the world, little Snotnose, is things. Things and their makers rule the world; look at Birla, and Tata, and all the powerful: they make things. For things, the country is run. Not for people. For things, America and Russia sent aid; but five hundred million stay hungry. When you have things, then there is time to dream; when you don’t, you fight.’ The Children, listening fascinatedly as we fought… or perhaps not, perhaps even our dialogue failed to hold their interest. And now I: ‘But people are not things; if we come together, if we love each other, if we show that this, just this, this people-together, this Conference, this children-sticking-together-through-thick-and-thin, can be that third way…’ But Shiva, snorting: ‘Little rich boy, that’s all just wind. All that importance-of-the-individual. All that possibility-of-humanity. Today, what people are is just another kind of thing.

Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie

It’s one side of reality, as dreams and beauty are another side of reality, both sides incompatible with each other. I don’t like the idea of being represented by other people’s words when I can surely say what I need to say myself, but I’ll make an exception here because it’s a perfect lead up to…

7 thoughts on “Prologue to…

  1. It can be overwhelming to think that we’re ruled by people who don’t care. But I was talking to my aunt who is a journo and she was over in Africa doing humanitarian stuff, and I said “Is there a point anymore? Aren’t we just fighting a losing battle?” And she said, “No way, you don’t understand, theres always a chance and there are way more people on the good side than you realise..” So, maybe its not as bad as all of that, maybe we have hope.

  2. I didn’t write this in an emotional or despairing way, but I was just asking myself these things intellectually. The line, “When you have things, then there is time to dream; when you don’t, you fight” got me thinking about the grittiness of life versus higher ideas, but I probably didn’t describe that enough. Oh well.

  3. I’m kind of a little confused about what you’re trying to say here… but I’m very interested to know what it is.

  4. Well, yeah, I didn’t describe it well, but I was thinking about how there’s the rough side of life, the struggle, day-to-day, fighting part of life where you have to do whatever you can to scrape a bit of money together and only when that is taken care of do we have the luxury of philosophy and emotions and art and all of those ideas. That’s what I meant when I sort of said, roughness and struggle is one side of reality, dreams and beauty are another side of reality, and both sides are incompatible with each other.

    Here that’s not so much of a concern but that book ‘Midnight’s Children’ was set in India where people don’t have the time to wonder about the philosophy of living because they are too busy trying to stay alive each day, and if that involves having to fight against others and ditching ideas of togetherness and the potential of the human race and things like that, then that’s what they have to do because the world is just set up that way. In that sense, perhaps it’s easier to achieve things by forgetting about others.

    I don’t mean for this to sound preachy in any way. All this was just what I sort of had in mind when I wrote this.

  5. You don’t sound preachy, it’s a pretty interesting topic I reckon.

    I heard once that if you graphed your level of happiness against your income, it definitely rises as you get paid more and more, but once you reach a certain mark (say A$50,000 to A$70,000 a year – I’m yet to work full time so I have no idea how accurate this, I just know it’s roughly Australia’s average wage) then the happiness pretty much levels out and can only increase by other means, such as the way you’ve described.

    Almost reminds me of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.

  6. Yeah it reminds me of the hierarchy of needs too.

    I’ve done a 180 on my idea of money. I used to think that money is not worth anything unless it gets spent, since it’s just paper and numbers until it’s used to buy stuff. But now I think having money is freedom in a way that having possessions is not. That sort of matches what you said, once you reach $50,000-ish your freedom issues are sort of covered so more won’t make you jump for joy any further.

    Whenever I think of ‘graphs’ and ‘happiness’ in the same sentence I think of Lisa Simpson’s happiness vs. intelligence graph in crayon she shows Homer when he’s temporarily smart for one episode. I think her graph’s happiness decreases in a curve as intellegence increases. She goes, “I make a lot of graphs.” I found that cute.

  7. When I used to read the Dilbert blog, Scott Adams pointed to some sort of evidence saying that smarter people are happier than dumber people. But that seems to contradict the world as I know it and the people in it. The dumber seem far happier.

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