You can’t go anywhere lately without hearing someone longing for the ‘good old days,’ whatever those were, or opining that ‘things have changed,’ as though this is a radical departure from the universal norm, which of course it isn’t. ‘Things’ change all the time in this universe, on this planet and in our lives every single day. Sadly however, not all of these changes are welcomed, beneficial, necessary or harmless, and it’s our job as citizens to take note of them as such and respond accordingly. By most reasonable measures, we should be doing a lot better, here it is the 21st century and we’re still resolving far too many conflicts with wars. Despite all the good we create, there’s no denying how the following problems continue to plague us.
It’s no secret that technological advancements in the last 25 years have radically changed the way people interact on this planet, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that all of it has been indispensable. MySpace used to rule, but is now something a 13-year-old considers as cool as soap-on-a-rope, and they’ve never even seen that 1970s stalwart dumbass product. Yet that demographic was the first to jump on Twitter and exchange endless streams of 140 character recitations of every bloody minute of their day. It was lauded as the driving force behind the so called ‘Arab Spring,’ when in reality it was simply the latest means of delivering web based information; it didn’t spark the uprisings it the Muslim world, it merely gave them a new voice.
‘The rent is too damn high!’ Testify brother. It’s not just that everything costs more today, manufacturers are actually making smaller and smaller volumes of their products but selling them at the same price as their former sizes. The planet is becoming too expensive to even exist in, much less live in. We currently live in an era where more wealth has been produced than ever before and more and more of it is becoming concentrated in the hands of fewer and fewer obscenely rich families. When the world’s richest 85 people control as much wealth as the next 3 billion people, something’s gotta give.
It’s difficult to imagine why we are content in this day and age to continue objectifying half the population of the Earth in such fundamental ways as to literally pay them less than men for the same job. It’s why the idea of a female U.S. President has many Americans quaking in terror. It’s also why younger and younger women all over the world are aggressively defying sexism, refusing to be seen as second class citizens and demanding to be recognized as equal partners. They will not settle for anything less and are certain to achieve it, no matter how many leering, chauvinist creeps try and stand in their way. In the 21st century we should not still be dealing with this barbaric issue.
For some time now societies all over the world have been polarizing to such a degree that it is currently the norm to have individuals and groups engage in the most absurd forms of extremism that wouldn’t be out of place in a Marx Brothers comedy. It’s no longer enough to practice one’s faith, you have to take every word of scripture literally and live like a 12th century monk, hurling fire and brimstone with your every radical judgment that finds everyone else to be a scabrous heathen. This is equally true of politics; you can’t simply disagree with political opponents today, you have to point out why their ideology is nothing short of evil and why the Sun only shines on what your party offers. It’s why the first Black President of the United States has been likened to everyone from Hitler to Satan and why whole communities in America live in constant fear that the vast demonic enterprise known as ‘THE GOVERNMENT!!!!’ is plotting to invade their homes in the middle of the night in a special ops raid to steal their freedom and/or liberty…or something.
From the moment some enterprising proto-human realized that feigning an injury meant less time hunting Mammoths and more time hanging out by the fire in the cave with the proto-ladies, our species has made sloth a much sought after commodity. It’s no surprise then that by the 21st century, having had considerable time to refine it, we in the developed world have made idleness a pretty sweet deal. Every generation since World War II has taken it upon themselves to work less and relax more, to the extent that our great Grandparents would probably find our current overindulgence in abject laziness abhorrent, since they had to churn their own butter and raise and slaughter their own meat and we can barely reach down the far side of the couch for the remote.
The advent of the internet has given voice to literally millions of people all over the world whose opinions, thoughts, musings and general unremarkableness are now shamelessly plastered all over the web, more’s the pity. Much of this content is inspired by the anonymous nature of web browsing itself, which has sadly given rise to an unfortunate decline in civility and courtesy, and has allowed the spectre of intolerance to run rampant. Virtually any comment board on any subject anywhere online will contain an unsettling number of viciously abusive posts that illustrate a shocking lack of socially acceptable conduct. People who don’t know each other and have never met can now exchange an endless stream of communication that details exactly why it is that they believe the other to be some form of excrement. What a time to be alive!
It is absolutely astonishing that in an age when at the push of a computer button people now have access to more information than was accumulated by all the scholars studying all the ancient texts in the Library of Alexandria, and the vast majority of us are using it for Facebook and x-rated materials, and not in that order. In fact, there has been a growing suspicion among more Conservative people worldwide that education and intelligence are unnecessary and unduly glorified. Such people wear their willful ignorance like a badge of honor and will remain unconvinced in the face of facts and figures that don’t conform to their belief that no good ever came out of reading a book. Some of this is based on cultural traditions that have persisted for centuries, but by and large most of it is simply due to people being too damn stupid for their own good.
This is a big one, folks; why some people still need convincing that saving our one home from needless, selfish destruction of its air, water and soil should be a priority, is simply incredible. There’s not much debate that our pollution is causing climate change around the globe, or that we can be far more proactive than we currently are in countering the effects of 150+ years of pumping trillions of tons of toxic filth into our environment. The Earth is a stunningly beautiful biosphere, and is currently the only place in the universe we are aware of that can support life. We cannot continue to despoil it and somehow claim that more profits will make it worth living in a Hellish, barren wasteland.
The more things change, the more they stay the same. Recent news items featuring Donald Sterling’s lectures on ‘The Black Community in the 21st Century,’ make it clear that racism is still haunting us. The future doesn’t look so bleak however, as it’s mostly older people who cling to these archaic beliefs, while young people continue to find character more compelling than color. As a species we may never eradicate racism completely, but we may not have to in order to emasculate it.
Apathy may well be the greatest scourge to face our species. If we don’t wake up to the reality of how our foolishness is jeopardizing our very existence on this planet, and do so quickly, very little of what we consider important today will likely remain so for very long. We have a responsibility to protect the Earth and one another, and we shouldn’t allow something as vapid as indifference to stand in our way.