Let’s just put it out here: I am appalled by the world we live in. What makes this somewhat palatable is that I doubt there was any time in history when the world wasn’t appalling—if not in totality, at least in select corners. Not the world, no, I misspoke, the people who inhabit the world. We are a collection of murderers, rapists, thieves, racists, bigots, and generally unsavory people who you would not want to break bread with. The beauty of white beaches, swaying palm trees, ripe mangoes, and orange-purple sunsets cannot counterbalance any day’s headline from some place or another. Man’s inhumanity toward man has never taken a break. And while we can say that at least that (insert horror of the day) doesn’t happen here, forget it—it does.
Recorded time goes back 5,000 years. Which means we have before us 5,000 years of dirt on the human race. And it is unrelenting. Wars wars wars. Oppression oppression oppression. Suffering suffering suffering. What is wrong with us? Is it really so hard to fulfill our basic human needs without infringing on someone else’s desire to sit on a rocking chair at the end of the day with a cup of spiked iced tea? According to Maslow, there are five levels of human needs: physiological (stuff), security (here today… and tomorrow), social (let’s be friends), esteem (doin’ alright, if I do say so myself), and self-actualization (feelin’ good in here with myself). Seriously, why do we need to keep inventing armaments so that we can fulfill our needs before the guys on the other side of the river fulfill there’s? Can’t we, really, help each other? What’s wrong with hoisting each other up the ladder of needs, rather than stepping on each other as we try to ascend to the next level of fulfillment?
Is the problem that we are packs of wolves with haircuts and underwear?
It’s beyond frustrating. And beyond depressing. It is demoralizing (a word which assumes a level of morality, but it does indicate the degree to which my esteem has fallen, since I have a hard time finding the morality). Since I am Jewish, my sensitivity to the depravity that just keeps rolling along in human history is quite, unfortunately, well-practiced. But I think that holds true for anyone, anywhere in the world. Most of us, I am sure, can cite a time (assuming we know history past our own generation) when our ancestors had to leave the old village to escape persecution. And if we were “lucky,” we can claim some conquerors of our very own. But we must realize that that “good for our team” circumstance resulted in pain for those whose land/ homes/ farms/ lakes/ gold/ oil /were confiscated. And let’s not forget: women. How many of us can claim pillaged and raped women in our family trees? I bet it’s all of us.
Quite the legacy we have bequeathed ourselves.
Acknowledging the reality of our dismal history—and recognizing it for what it is—no golden age of anything (yeah, great, a golden goblet decorated with precious stones in the shape of a cupid, makes me feel so much better about the world we have come from) may be a place to start. Start what, though?
But it’s generally fun to start, or re-start something, so here I am, back with my rebellious thinking.
I like to imagine that we can each be that butterfly who, by virtue of its existence flutters its wings, causing things to happen somewhere. I’m hoping, though, for good things and not just the storms that keep besetting us.