Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Guilted Age

Something has been gnawing at me for some time, and after reading a piece about the forthcoming James Cameron movie Avatar, I just have to say something...

It seems that the story of this film concerns a war between Earth and a distant moon that we are exploiting for our own material purposes.

So we are the bad guys...Again...

The guilt complex that we are foisting upon ourselves just for existing, and the consumptive requirements that existing necessarily bears has gotten way out of hand.

We are made to feel guilty for the food that we eat , ('we are overfishing the oceans! We are turning the planet into a desert with the deforestation that raising cattle for our hamburgers causes! The fertilizers we are using are running into the oceans and causing dead spots!) We are condemned for the use of fresh water, we are even vilified by ourselves for having to poop and the necessary need to deal with the poop once it is here. ('Bad baby! Stinky baby!' )

Our clothes are made by foreign slave labor...Everything we do pollutes...We are killing off everything on the planet by eating it, destroying its' habitat or trying to domesticate it too much. We have also polluted our upper atmosphere with tons of 'space junk'. Even methane producing farts are polluting and destroying us.

Do you remember being able to enjoy watching nature documentaries? I can't even bear to watch them anymore because rather than portraying the nature of the subject, the main theme of these shows is invariably how man is destroying what is left of these marvelous creatures.

Do you and your spouse want to have children? You greedy fools, you are adding to overpopulation and over consumption. ("You have thrown the worst fear that can ever be hurled- the fear to bring babies into the world."-Bob Dylan, "Masters of War") . If you are selfish enough to exist, the only thing that you could possibly do that is worse is to die. Coffin burials are polluting, cremations add to ozone decay. If you allow yourself a 'green burial' it is a little better, your corpse can be thrown on a 'possum pile' along with the egg shells and old coffee grounds.

The bad guy in almost every movie, and certainly in every kid's movie, is a greedy capitalist pig who is trying to bulldoze over some little corner of heaven in order to set up his soulless money sucking industry. (All of these movies brought to you, hypocritically enough, by big soulless money sucking industries!) Is it any wonder that in the last elections half our country felt that moving to communistic or socialistic approaches to government was worth entertaining?

Now I am not here to soft pedal any of the challenges that we as a species face, God knows we need to be better stewards of the planet, if that is indeed our destiny. But for goodness sake, we need to preserve the planet so that we may better survive on it as consuming living organisms!

The Big Guilt Trip that we have been on since about 1965 or so has been so all encompassing as to obliterate the origins of its cause. It has almost become a mass delusion of self loathing , a priming in the human psyche to rationalize a species level suicide, rather than a warning to better ensure the survival of the species.

We are clearly a species on the decline...

When you think about the glory days of humankind, when it was called Mankind, and I am not being sexist here, our self image was quite different. The Greeks may have had a host of colorful deities that ran the show, but they were all organs of power on which Man could draw as he climbed the heights of cultural and educational enlightenment. With the warning against hubris keeping him in check, the future was not self annihilation but discovery and growth. The Greek Empire may not have lasted, but the Greek spirit and outlook influenced and shaped the world in the most profound way.

It is easy to have a very dark view of humanity in a general sense. Working in the service industry as I do, I get to see people of all different kinds acting in all different ways. When I have an encounter with a genuine asshole I get very down on "people", but then I run across a genuinely nice person who acts in an unsolicited kind way to another person and I am reminded that we are like a large organism consisting of good and bad cells that must coexist for the good of the whole. We must not allow the assholes to condemn the species to an unfair self-loathing. Rather than always focusing on our limitations, we would be better served to look at our potential, and not just in the light of our modern religion, Science, (which can be blamed for most of the malaise we are in), but in our capacity to make the world a better place with a better attitude towards things that make us better people treating each other in a better way: civilization. And no, I don't mean necessarily by feeding the hungry and clothing the naked, etc., etc., (fill in with more whiny liberal guilt trip crap). I mean, treat your kids like the potential great Humans they could be, treat the oldies with the respect that they deserve, respect the brainpower, the imagination, the common joy we all share in the things that make life worth living. I believe Art, rather than being a tool for propaganda or just keeping the bored entertained, can save the self-image of our species, and just maybe, save our species itself.

Artists, don't make us feel guilty for being alive. Make us feel alive!

Who knows, maybe Avatar will do just that.

We can only hope...


AlanDP said...

This is something I've thought about a lot, but I haven't figured out how to put my thoughts into words without sounding like a crackpot.

For now I'll just say that I refuse to indulge in such self-hatred. I have only one life, and I don't have any time to waste with such nonsense.

Brer said...

How do you keep coming up with these great titles?

I've always felt that if we took care of the present, the future would take care of itself. To control the future is, and has proved in the past to be, a futile effort, and the future is certainly the most nebulous period of time. The past really happened, the present, though slippery, is here in our grasp; the future is a bill of goods that no one can guarantee.

We have this on rather high authority: "Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Let the day's own trouble be sufficient for the day."

Brer said...

I wish to guilt you--into producing another great new post!

Mick said...

Hunter S. Thompson nailed it when he called us the nation of fear.