Monday, August 08, 2011
The View from my Bicycle [COLUMN]
Not long ago a US preacher predicted the end of the world, and in SA, some newspapers had headlines like this: WERELD EINDIG MORE [WORLD ENDS TOMORROW]. That might seem funny to some, but right now, it's oddly plausible. It feels to me as though the centre cannot hold, and things are falling apart. Apparently I'm not alone in these misgivings:
Fears of a global meltdown, which some analysts see as potentially worse than the 2008 collapse, sent vacationing leaders scrambling in a flurry of phone calls from London to Paris to Washington to stem the tide.
I did write a recent article entitled CRUNCH TIME, in which I said: The crunch will be harsher than we expect, and it's coming soon.
In London, over the weekend, the impoverished suburb of Tottenham specifically, looting made South Africa's strike action look tame by comparison. "We ain't got no way to survive and it's like no-one don't care about us.There's injustice and we've had enough."
Here on home soil, I felt things were somewhat awry. I watched a movie with my girlfriend, both of us have been sick of late, and thus perhaps slightly more irritable than usual. For the rest of the weekend we did the sort of things I suppose one does. We consumed. We ate food at various restaurants and coffee shops. Rich, sweet, fatty foods. Although we did as we pleased, it was not a very pleasant weekend. It was oddly unfulfilling.
Somewhere I read that pornography is a $97 billion dollar industry; that every 37 minutes another porn video is made. Such an industry can only exist in the hearts of men who have given up hope. Men who have lost the love in their hearts.
What, in this world, is fulfilling? Exercise. Growing things. Listening. Nurturing communities. Reading. Learning. Changing the way we eat. Changing bad habits. Humility. Health. Nature. Few of these things cost money, or come in expensive packaging. They're acts of love, acts of attention, acts of will. That they require motivated commitment is also true.
In the excellent flick, The Hurt Locker, we see a man brave enough to risk his life and endure incredible trials, yet lacks the courage to phone home. We see someone who knows what to do in the chaos of war, but can't pick a cereal in a supermarket. Our lives today are similarly stripped of meaning. I made a remark recently, that if one lived for just a few minutes according to what one sees in the movies, one would quickly be arrested, or worse.
The world was last at war in 1945. It's almost 70 years later and it seems unavoidable that we enter the next round of mutually assured extermination. It's not surprising that no one wants to usher in this next chapter. Of course, our failure to change is why this harsh season is upon us. We have the choice to change the fuel we use, to be citizens rather than consumers, to eat less meat, to be more neighborly and less materialistic. We have the choice to choose people over things. And, again and again, we've reverted to the choices that take us to an unavoidable result. You might say it's no one's fault, that nobody knew. Or you could say it's everyone's fault, that everybody knew. The odd thing is that even though we all knew, it seems not one of us did anything different. Is that, after all, not a particulary peculiar insanity?