Monday, February 14, 2005

Humans: Losing our way?

Inspired by the repercussions of saying a simple hello to a stranger on the street Stupid Beautiful writes about city life. It's a strangely beautiful and sad account of humanity loosing its way which reflects my own thoughts. Of course it's not just about the city is it? I've felt for a while that U.S. society has gone off the deep end. Our lives are so far out of balance that we now medicate our minds and our children's minds in the hopes that the chemicals might somehow set things right or at least alter life enough that it seems tolerable. The social structures, social spaces, and nightmarish techno-media experiences continue to surround us. Degradation becomes an accepted fact of life right along side of fear and insecurity. We seem unaware of exactly what is going on. We feel it but we don't understand it.

We push on through, we punch the reality from within the perceived safety of SUVs and Hummers. Men ooze aggressiveness from there pores as they assume a constant state of defense and attack. The media tells the population about the latest school shooting one day and about a scalping days later. The mental onslaught is everyday. What is real?

Some kind of devil has taken over this city. These days, as I walk along sidewalks lined with slush and half-smoked cigarettes, I can see it without squinting. It isn't a disease in so many words -- you can't catch it like a bug or become infected by it. No, this has always been here lurking dormantly -- a link in the collective DNA. It had simply not awakened until now.

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Have I just experienced this urban devil at it's pubescent stages? Perhaps this is how it all begins. A human being sets out to do what it naturally and spiritually desires -- to encounter other human beings and experience exchanges with them, no matter how small. Unfortunately, most of these attempts occur with people who have already become jaded about such endeavours. As more and more people are met with failed exchanges, this population of jaded anti-socials grows exponentially, spreading like an unstoppable plague. Is it possible that I have just had a close encounter with this awakening monster?

The concept behind the city is a beautiful one. Millions of people coming together to share a relatively small slice of land, spending their entire lives in close proximity to one another. In truth, it can be an ideal environment for the spiritually inclined -- even more so than the cliché of a vacant babbling brook. What better setting is there for exploring your true nature than a highly concentrated mass of people to learn from? This extravagant production we call the human experience, in it's purest and most potent form, is quite simply the interaction that takes place between two people.

Yet quite paradoxically, it would seem that cities have become the most ideal breeding ground for isolation and spiritual degeneration. Human beings have begun to give far too much credit to their doubts and fears -- leaving them jaded from relatively small doses of rejection or threat.


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