Monday, April 7, 2008

We've been observing your Earth

"People are fundamentally greedy."

This was one of the comments on my last post. I disagree. I believe, yeah, there's greed in us but there's also much more. But, right now, the few with the higher capacity for greed are manipulating us, bringing that greed to the fore for their own gain. Pushing the view that we should be greedy.

Almost all advertising is telling us that we should have everything we want. Not we as people. We as the one individual watching and just that individual. Because you're worth it. Don't worry about everyone else - it's you that matters and why the hell shouldn't you have everything you want? This message drives consumerism and also lands people in money traps. To use an old cliche, it creates wage slaves.

Some people even apply the bullshit 'trickle down' theory to happiness, saying if you are happy, that will rub off on other people or it's all about getting the individual happy and, eventually, you'll get to everyone. Like economics, the flaw is that the people at the top are doing their damndest to make sure not a shred trickles down. That's the greed.

Most self-help books are about blinding yourself to the shit in the world and convincing yourself you're happy in your own little blind bubble.

That's bullshit.

I don't believe any person on this planet should be happy as long as one person suffers. But, as it happens, people do walk around in their blind bubbles. I guess they have to. If we were always consciously aware of the hideous things going on with other people, we'd drive ourselves crazy. But that's being taken too far and people are cashing in on that. Diversion tactics, nurturing and feeding that greed, and a bombardment of information to create confusion. And we're falling for it.

So, yeah, aliens observing our planet would have a hard time finding something good.

But I believe this is just one part of us that is currently being exploited. I believe we're so much better than that. I believe we also have generosity, compassion, love and other cheesy emotional stuff inside us and I think that's just as strong as the greed. But those in power, as power itself draws the greedier people, are manipulating the negative.

What's worse is the apathy that this is creating. People are fundamentally greedy. Andy I'm going to call you out and say shame on you. By accepting the negative and just getting on with things, it allows them to happen. People hear of atrocities and think, well, that's people for you, eh? Rather than, we should be better than that. If it's taken as a given that we're all a bunch of assholes, how could we possibly be any better? It's a self-fulfilling prophesy.

Well, I say fuck that.

I want those hippies back. I want to unite the world in love. I don't want anyone to rest until every single person on this planet is happy. I want us to be better. I want us to be some kitsch vision of the future where we wear white sheets and flowers in our hair. I want us to take baths of course and I want us to be beautiful. Because that's what we can be.

Let's be beautiful. Then we can really call those occupants of interstellar craft.


Andy J. Latham said...

You are right that it's shameful to think the worst of people, but it's not without reason. As you say, people are influenced by messages in adverts convincing them that they are "worth it", but those adverts are capitalising on the fact that people want to believe that.

Greed is something that all animals have in a way. The alpha male of a group of gorillas, for example, will not want any other male to get a look in with the women. It's the whole "looking after yourself" that has allowed evolution to take place and resulted in the appearance of humans.

What makes us different though is that we can override that natural instinct to take things for ourselves. We do have things like compassion and the ability to care for others. And those are things that we should be concentrating our efforts on as you say.

It's interesting that you mentioned the "trickling down" thing. That does happen, but not in the way people seem to think. I believe happiness is passed on when you do something to make someone else happy, rather than yourself. You might make someone's day. They then might decide to do something to make someone else happy. That's the right way to trickle down. It's not the easy way (hence why it's not done enough) but it's the right way.

So yeah, I am pesimistic about where the human race is heading, but I'm at a loss to know what to do about it apart from making sure that I help people when I can. I just have to hope that the right trickling down theory actually works.

Mr. Trombley said...

Dear Sir, If you recall the Prisoner's Dilemma, then you would realize something very important about laws and cruelty.

The Prisoner's Dilemma famously (albeit arguably) shows that a modified altruism is in many cases the most beneficial strategy for a person and a group.

Now think about what happened to Zimbabwe, once the breadbasket of Africa. Why does a highly corrupt state tend to under perform a minimally corrupt state? The answer is, in the long run, running a state to the benefit of its people is more advantageous (in an evolutionary perspective) than rampant greed.

It should be remembered this is why pack structures evolved in the first place.

It is to often forgotten that just as man's cruelty evolved in nature, so too did man's justice. So, will we evolve to greater cruelty or greater piety? This is a question far beyond currently extant models of evolution.

Andy J. Latham said...

Hmmm, that comment on pack behaviour is interesting and seems to contradict my "every man for himself" idea. However do animals form packs with the intention of looking after the other animals, or with the intention of protecting themselves?

Mr. Trombley said...

Dear Sir, A pack would only be a viable strategy if the two motives were mutually inclusive.

PZY said...

"I don't believe any person on this planet should be happy as long as one person suffers."

this sentence alone raises many issues and displays the complexity of why there is no world peace. You could have shortened the entry to just this. :D

Mr. Trombley said...

Dear Sir, given your documented taste in music I would like to direct you to this:

It is a recorded concert of probably the best band of their time, The Minutemen.

Bass virtuoso - Mike Watt
Telecaster/Singer - D. Boon (late)
Traps - George Hurley

Bitter Animator said...

Thanks Mr.T, I've had a look at the first couple of minutes but I'm looking forward to watching the whole thing.