Thursday, March 14, 2013

Progress Doesn't Move Me

"Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts." --William Bruce Cameron*

I know some people who think that technology, the internet, the march of progress, is changing things. You should hear them wax poetic. Technology afficienados speak of the internet like it is the next step of evolution. Still others fear advances in technology and what they mean for their children, their life, the world.

Yawn.

Yes, in two years I might be walking around with computer glasses that give me all the information and statistics of everything I lay my eyes on. I might have a chip implanted in my brain that lets me control my PC and phone and car without the aid of my hands. I don't care what the advancement is--it's still the same world as it is today, as it was 10 years ago, 100 years ago, 500 years ago, 1000 years ago, and beyond.

Same world. It's the same world because it's the same kind of people. There is only one kind of people, always has been and always will be, and that kind of people that I am referring to is us. That's all there is: Us.

Define us?

Weak and broken things. Petty things. Things that get bored far, far too easily. Us that look out for number one before we look out for the rest of us. Us who put our thumb on the scale--us who rarely are capable of admitting or recognizing that we put our thumb on the scale when we think we won't get caught (though there are many of us who still do it anyway--those are the dumber among us, which is hard to calculate once you allow for the fact that all of us are pretty dumb). Us who are short sighted. Us who would never think of yelling at or criticizing a perfect stranger, though we tear apart our family and spouse with our words (spoken verbally or mentally, makes no difference). Us who war. Us who don't spend enough time listening to the other so that we can understand them; us who are only waiting for our turn to speak. Us are people who are often happy to leave well enough alone, that is until our safety or security is threatened, or perceived to be threatened. And then us very neatly and directly turn into wild animals. Sophisticated wild animals, of course. We claw, bite and devour those threats. Our tools are gossip, secrets, passive-aggression, third-party social hitmen. Ridicule. Our tools are oiled and polished and rubbed often; they are very well taken care of.

Please don't misunderstand, I'm not particularly a pessimist. There is good in us. There is joy, sincerity, acts of love and bravery. I just think we are more defined, as an Us, by our weakness. And our weakness, which I believe to be immutable, is why the world will always be the way it was, is, are and will be: a veil of tears, for which the word "survive" will always be a more apropos word than "thrive."


*This quote is often attributed to Albert Einstein--but this is erroneous. It is a wonderful thing to track down the origin of quotes. The act of paying attention is a dying art, it amounts to lighting a candle in a hurricane, but it should be done.

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