Monday, May 04, 2009

The Next High

Why is it that we do not question? Why is it that we simply accept? Are we still waiting for a hero, for someone or something to come along and magically change everything; to make things better for all? We say that we must all take control of our own destinies, that we are subsequently responsible for ourselves, but where does that leave humanity as a whole? What are we ultimately responsible for? Are we not ultimately responsible for the world and the civilization that we leave for future generations? Are we not to be responsible for the balance of nature and its perpetuation towards a future?

What I have witnessed in my short but insightful life is that we seem to 'binge' on life, especially those in 'western' society. We love our gadgets, our toys, the abundance of food, water, entertainment, relationships (be it lovers, friends or family), we are constantly on the lookout for our next fix of the new, latest and trendy items to purchase, eat or explore; our next 'high' so to speak.

Some of the things that I personally remember:

Cars - I have always purchased older vehicles and worked on them myself. Throughout the years we have supposedly had a lot of advancements in motor vehicles but have we really? The first thing that comes to mind is rust, why is it that with all of the materials and 'technological' advances in materials over the last 100 years that we still drive cars that rust and fall apart? In 1981 (that is 28 years ago - think about that), there were cars that did not rust; remember the DeLorean? What is the root cause of the continuation of cars that rust? Remember the Pontiac Firefly? Here was a car that had a 3 cylinder engine and was getting 50+MPG about 25 years ago, and now we are all impressed with numbers such as 35-45MPG, did we really advance?

The fact is that we have, and have had, the technology to make better cars for a long time, to have them last longer (when is the last time that you could buy a car that was over 20 years old and not have it falling apart?), work better and be more fuel efficient (or even be electric - the EV), we just choose not to; or rather, we accept that "this is just the way it is". That 'newer is better' and we just keep on consuming and 'upgrading' to the latest and greatest models. Did you also know that GM had an engine in the 60s that made GM lose money? Not because it was not a good engine, but rather because it did not break down enough and profits were lost on parts and repairs; this engine was removed from markets and replaced with ones that were 'different' (more cubic inches or another 'impressive' fact) and which broke down at least at 'regular' intervals. Motive - Profit, not efficiency, not technical advancement, and definitely not the environment or the well managed use of resources.

Household Appliances - I used to work in the business of repairing household appliances such as ovens, laundry machines and refrigerators. I remember that I had worked on machines that were over 30 years old and still worked fine, just needing minor repairs. Now think about the ones in your house today; how old are they, are you ready to 'replace' them and what are the reasons. I saw the differences in materials used to manufacture these machines, the 'electronics' that seemed to 'hypnotize' people into purchasing the ones with the blinking lights and count down timers. People would start concerning themselves with the 'color scheme' of their appliances and the 'latest' colors were only available if one would replace their current ones. I remember one refrigerator well, it was manufactured by Whirlpool, with the System 2000 electronic control. This was a terrible machine which had a computerized board which burned out constantly. Now this was a board which replaced a control part which previously could be repaired for about 30 to 60 dollars, usually labor included. If you had one of the newer ones, the board itself was upwards of $180; all totalled the repair bill would run to about 1/3 of the cost of replacing the appliance so why repair? So it came down to - do we want to repair it and risk something else breaking? Or did we want to simply replace and have the 'peace of mind' of a 'warranty'? We have become a disposable society.

Televisions and Cell Phones - Both of these are changing and becoming obsolete constantly. TVs are now to be digital in the U.S. because the 'system' is changing 'to better serve you'. Forcing people that require a television to upgrade to the latest technology. Cell phones are the same; a good working cell phone from the past will not work on the new 'systems' for the same reasons. Let us not forget that, as digital, it is far easier to track and gather information about the users of these devices than the previous analog technologies. I won't even go into my years in the computer industry.

Now, am I the only one that has also noticed these things and simply cannot 'accept'? Have we not seen the other reciprocal effects of all this? Has no one noticed that there are fewer mechanics, that there are fewer appliance repair persons, that there are fewer television repair shops? This means that people have lost their jobs, their livelihoods and have had to adapt to something else even if this is the only thing they have ever known and even enjoyed. This has also led to bankruptcies, lower living wages and hardship for families across our 'civilized world'. This is the technological obsolescence of human labour and in our monetary system, the obsolescence of their very 'lives'.

Sometimes it is our society itself; through laws, that forces these issues of 'upgrading', of keeping up to date and of continuing the consumer cycle. These 'laws', often disguised as 'safety', are just blindly accepted and become part of us. They shape our thoughts, our behaviours and our purchasing habits using the life credits we call money. We upgrade out of vanity, competition, jealousy, self indulgence, self importance but do we ever really upgrade for ourselves?

Don't get trapped in a cyclical life, say NO MORE. Don't accept what is offered but rather demand something better. Become the deadbeat that purchases with cash or uses a credit card and then pays it off. Become the person that grows their own food or at least a portion of it. Become the person that embraces nature rather than destroys it. Become the person that is satisfied with what they have and better that, rather than trying to one-up through the upgrade cycle. Don't be a follower and don't be a leader; instead be a sharer and let us open ourselves up to each other, share information and go back to the trust in one another that society once had. Don't be afraid of 'not having', don't be afraid of 'falling behind' don't be afraid of this adventure that we call life and humanity; embrace yourselves and your fellow Earthly inhabitants, it is not 'easier' to be an 'island of one' than it is to open ones self to the wonders of life and others.

1 comment:

Sheilanagig said...

What if compassion is genetically determined as a disposition?

What if culture and experience change our genes?

Would it do any good to ask people to go against the nature they have genetically inherited?

Sorry, just my own personal torment here.