A Cleanse of the Palate: The Human Element

So much of modern life revolves around juggling this chaotic monstrosity that has developed through societal progression. Over the last century, the global environment has drastically shifted in terms of complexity. In using an established observation in Moore’s Law, the capability of technology (specifically in terms of transistors in an integrated circuit) doubles roughly every two years. With such an accelerated level of technological advancement, it’s fairly easy to lose the element of humanity in relation to the modern world. Most of life in the past was devoted to better oneself in relation to the environment around them in order to be better prepared for challenges in life. As a shift in thinking, production has focused on adapting the environment to fit the person, not as much the person to fit the environment. Why shouldn’t this be the case? If the purpose of technology is to serve those that create it, why shouldn’t technology drastically improve the environment that we live in? With these questions, I’d like to look back at the 1980 film, The Gods Must Be Crazy. Although most of the movie tells the story of a man named Xi and his quest to return a mysterious object (a coke bottle) back to the gods after it fell from the sky, the first part of the movie acts as a social commentary comparing the societies of the Kalahari bushmen and developed society in Johannesburg. The narrator shows that due to the incredible simplicity of bushmen society, there is no sense of ownership, conflict between other bushmen does not exist, and the bushmen have adapted to the harsh lifestyle of the Kalahari in respect to such difficulties as lack of available water. On the other hand, those living in Johannesburg have adapted the environment to fit them and as such have caused their children to have to go to school for 10-15 years just to get their heads around how to live in their own society. As well, since society has continued to advance, people within the society must continuously adapt to their surroundings. Although they attempted to make life easier for themselves, they inadvertently made life much more complicated. Obviously it would be illogical to state that the society of the bushman is superior to the society of modern man based on that they avoid many of the problems that come with the territory of advanced society because advancements that modern man has made has clear purposes. One such major area of advancement would be in medical care especially in that the lifespan of a bushman might not be as long as a person living in developed society simply on the grounds that they do not have advanced medical care to handle injuries, disease, and the lot. Vaccines alone have become such a crucial defense for modern people in combatting diseases that can easily be avoided with proper prevention (just like polio) where a bushman would not have vaccines against such diseases.

I’d also like to take a quote from the Dalai Lama on modern life. In a response to what surprises him the most about humanity, he stated, “Man… Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present, the result being that he does not live in the present or the future. He lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies never having really lived.” It’s true that so much of the progress that humans have made so far has been to the advantage of mankind, but sometimes it might be just as beneficial to ask how much is too much? In all of this, it seems like the human element is starting to creep out of society and the focus is being placed on making sure that society as a whole works like clockwork. Sure it is unfair to say that the individual is the most important thing for consideration, but the individual should not be devalued to the point that humanity is a secondary quality to the individual’s performance/contribution to modern society.

This is where I’d like to take a step back and talk about intraspective therapy (in a way). It is always important to have a sense of introspection as it allows you to see the world around you for what it is and to give needed clarity to what’s going on, but I believe it is equally important to have a good sense of intraspection as it will allow you to look inside yourself to see where you truly stand in relation to what’s happening around you. To illustrate how highly I value a sense of intraspection, (I know this is a bit personal, but nonetheless) one of my greatest fears in life is having something wrong with me internally, not in a physiological sense such as a disease, but more of a mental sense and not knowing what it is that’s wrong. Intraspection is crucial in order for one to come to terms with their life. How can one possibly overcome an adversity if they don’t have the ability to look inside themselves to see how they truly feel about something? I know this seems like blowing smoke over intraspection and one might say ‘how could someone not know how they feel on an issue’, but contrary to such a belief, people often suppress their true feelings, confuse themselves, or lie to themselves about what they believe. Sure they might have their own complex reasons as to why a person would not be honest with themselves, but being honest with yourself is of the highest importance. If you can develop a good sense of intraspection, you will be better able to rationalize your position in life and come to terms with the hand you’re playing with. Try and get the most of what you have in front of you and make the most of every opportunity. Remember to keep in mind the importance of who you are, not just what you have done or are able to do. Thanks for reading.

–N.L.

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