187 varieties of hair-spray

The end of the world is nigh; 2012 to be precise. Or so the myths and legends of several different cultures predict. And considering the state of the world today, and the state of our so-called culture, you'd have to admit it's looking pretty bleak. Thing is, I doubt it will be the end of the world. The end of the species may very well be nigh, but the world will get on quite nicely without us, thank you very much. And good riddance too.

Of course, I do understand there are many different cultures still extant today, but for the purposes of simplicity, in this discussion I'm focusing on one of the sickest, wrongest, least fulfilling cultures of them all: Western free market 'democracy' (?!), Westdem for short. Westdem happens to be the predominating culture, not by virtue of being the most suitable but simply by virtue of being the most aggressive and greedy. Westdem has been so successful it has consumed many other cultures in its march to the top, and continues to insidiously permeate many if not most other cultures such that virtually everywhere you go you're not too far away from a coke or a big mac. I call the process "McDonaldsisation"--the homogenisation of everything into a big grey bland ball of crap.

So what's wrong with the world, with our culture? Nothing is wrong (or right) in absolute terms. There is no good or evil, right or wrong. There is only that which serves the relevant purpose, and that which does not serve the purpose. So what's wrong with Westdem? Is it the triumph of shareholder value over personal values? Is it the triumph of individual values over group values? Is it the fact that we are poisoning ourselves? (If humans are so smart, how come they piss in their own water supply? That's not evil. It's not bad or wrong. But it certainly does not serve the purpose of having a potable water supply.) Is it that we refuse to recognise or acknowledge any limits to or constraints on our pursuit of whatever it is we are pursuing (we don't actually know, do we?). Is it that we have gone so far down the relativist road that we cannot see or understand or value one thing over another so we end up valuing nothing at all?

But let's not get bogged down in value judgements. If people prefer watching television to communing with nature (yuck!) that's OK. That's not bad. That's not evil. If people prefer golf courses to wetlands, that's fine. That's not bad. That's not evil. I do not pass judgement. But... and it's a biggie... But I can and do say that the paths we have chosen and continue to choose have not and will not lead to the outcomes we say we desire. The decisions we are making are preventing us from achieving the objectives we say we wish to achieve.

Pollution is not bad; it's not evil. But if the desired outcome is a clean and healthy world, then clearly to continue polluting will not lead to the desired outcome. It's not bad or evil to put harmful chemicals in foodstuffs---it is simply that to do so will not lead to the desired outcome: that what we eat should taste good and be health-giving not health-destroying. Having 187 varieties of hair-spray available on supermarket shelves is not bad, it's not evil. But it works against the achievement of our stated objectives, including preserving natural resources, minimising waste, minimising pollution etc

Personally, I believe it's too late. I believe we're heading for extinction in a matter of decades. I believe that even if we woke up right now, and understood the plight we have put ourselves in, and immediately started to put things right, that it would still be too late to prevent our imminent demise. Remember the canary in the coal mine? How the death of the canary would be a warning sign to the miners of the approach of toxic gas?

Well, our children are the canaries today. And the ever-growing number of young people self-mutilating, committing suicide, turning to drugs and alcohol is a warning sign to us of the approach of doom. In effect, our young people are saying to us: "We don't like this world, this culture you have created. In fact we hate it so much we would rather die, or slice our arms and legs with razor blades, or smash our brains and bodies with ice, or high speed street racing, etc, etc". I hope I'm wrong about all of this (actually I don't, come to think of it) but I'm pretty damn sure I'm right. Still, the prospect of failure doesn't mean we shouldn't try. Ideas, anyone?

And here's a story to illustrate the nature and scope of the problems facing us today.

Copyright © S R Schwarz 2007. All rights reserved.

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