Thursday, July 3, 2008

Less Than Shallow

It rolls around my thoughts like an out-of-control ping-pong ball, popping up at different times throughout the day. That realization, vibrant at times, of just how shallow, how minuscule, how phenomenally un-deep we really are here in our expanding global culture.

Like a hyperactive herd of minnows, we zig and weave, bouncing here and there, always chasing the next senseless wave. An endless sequence of pop-cultured hula-hoops, dressed up like they matter, like we should care.

One moment we're all driving huge freaken cars because we think it's safer, the next it's dangerously unsafe mini-cars because we noticed that were killing lots of things, or that it's costing us more than just a few necessary cups of coffee per day. Purses, super-stars, stupid little dogs that might accidentally get crushed, we stare, gawk, and then swear we need one of those. There is, after all, some space left in our basements for more junk; they kindly build 'em bigger these days.

One day organic is in, it's healthier, then it is out cause we've noticed it's a little bit poisonous. Crime is up, tourism down, and everybody's headed into their over-loaded basements for a stay-cation. We're back to ugly recycled 70's ware, and that comes with a free unhealthy panic about a looming oil crisis, or something. They didn't listen then, poorly dressed as they were, did it really seem to matter?

Of course nothing is cooler, or hotter than cleansing our guilt with a convenient tax-free not-for-too-many-profits fix-the-world-soon movement, as if our actions could actually eliminate million-year old problems. How many selfish, rude, i-owe-the-road BMWs are funded by our commoditizing our social inaction. Free yourself from guilt so you can feel better about buying more stuff, won't you?

But for all the loathsome, gross, senseless examples of our societies clearly tipping over the edge -- of them being so irrationally reactionary to even the smallest and stupidest of things -- we have to understand how much better that is than a great chunk of our world's population.

On a planet, embroiled with constant turmoil, driven by people who behave as if they just dropped out of a tree yesterday, being exceptionally shallow, while not the ideal civilized model for humanity, is far far better than those evil sulking, self-consuming creatures that roam the surface tormenting their betters. So many of them are just animals or worse: monsters.

Humanity, you see is spanned across a great distance, with so very few out front leading, while the bulk comes mindlessly across in the middle. But it is those other few, too many it seems at times, trailing us all at the back that leave in their wake such acts of stupidity, depravity and cruelness, that we must choose to ignore them. Collectively they set us back tens of thousands of years, even if they do sell newspapers, manage bureaucracies and run states. Foolishly, so few can even dimly see the horrors and miseries brought on by their own actions; even when they are a matter of public record. Newspapers have become monuments to the wantonly uncivilized.

Thus, if you have to choose, becoming obsessed with the latest color is a far better use of one's life than becoming obsessed with controlling everyone else. Shallow ain't great, but really, it ain't that bad either.

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