A Grim Prediction
I come from a simple place.
I come from a place where you stick a seed in the ground, you tend to it then you reap it. You reap it to nurture yourself and your family. Once used up, you till the plant under, and the next year, you do it all over again. In this place, success is to make things grow. Failure is to have things die. It’s pretty simple.
In such a place, it’s pretty hard to be anything but plain, honest and direct. There is not a lot of room for such things as policy, profit or persuasion. In this place, you work hard and stay alive, and, with luck, you prosper. In this place, no one gets really rich, but, as well, no one is destitute. There’s enough for everyone but not so much as to make anyone a king.
In such a place, your awareness and your life is entwined with the life living all around you, the plants and animals, both tame and wild, and the clear air supporting the birds and the bugs, and, of course, the rich earth, providing nutrients and support for all of it. While, sometimes, earthquakes, storms, heat spells and floods might disrupt the normalcy of this place, and maybe the deer might pilfer the fruit on the trees where your orchard meets the forest, and maybe the gophers might munch on the roots of your tomato plants, for the most part, this place is a place of cooperation and cohabitation.
Before I started kindergarten, a friend’s father took his son and me on an early morning hike. This father, and his father, and his father before, were raised in this place. The ways and means of this place were ingrained in the fiber and flesh of my friend’s father, an intelligent, quiet and calm man.
We started the hike heading across a dew sprinkled pasture, dampening our worn out tennis shoes. The brown patched cows, and their calves, were still and unmoving, ignoring us, munching on the fresh, cool, dewy grasses.
A thin fog under the very blue sky, hid the tops of the hills that we were going to climb. When we reached the edge of the open field, the hills stood before us and the father stopped us there. He told us that we were going to reach the top of the hill at about the same time the fog wholly burnt off. He told us to head up the hill, and he’d follow us. A bit surprised, we took the lead and walked straight ahead. We strode up the grade in a straight line, and really, we didn’t get too far. In short order, we pooped ourselves out.
The father called us back down to the bottom of the hill where he was still standing, having not followed us at all. As we approached him, he had us turn round, told us to stare at the hillside and tell him what we saw. We stared at the hill, reporting to him that we saw tall grass, bushes and spread out oak trees. There were a few moss splotched rocks poking up through the grass. He told us there was more than that. With an outstretched finger, he traced a line where the grass was thinned out, revealing a line of bare earth. Our eyes screwed up and the grasses finally revealed to us their little secret; there was a faint path crisscrossing the face of the hill, the thin, dusty line slightly angling upwards with each sweep across the hillside.
The father told us that this was a deer path. It was a path made by the animals that lived only in these woods, and that deer had a good reason to lay down their paths the way they did. The deer knew, because they lived here for so long, that to go straight up the hill would tire you out really quick, like it did us. But, if you went up the hill on the crisscrossed path, you climb the hill more gradually and you don’t tire yourself out. It’s a much easier climb, even though it may not be the most direct path, it was the most realistic, if you really wanted to get to the top of the hill. My young friend and I looked at each other, and figured that this was really a pretty good idea.
The father went on. The deer may have started this path, but the cows, looking for new grass would use it as well. Even the mountain lion, who sometimes killed and consumed the deer, would use the path too. The deer had made a path to make their own lives easier, but it made life easier for the cows, the mountain lion and, now, for us. Not much more was said about it, and we used the deer path to get to the top of the hill about the time the fog burned off.
As we grew older, this more subtle way of looking at things, was developed in us. It gave us a perspective where we’d look past the simple visage of green grass and a few splotchy rocks. There was texture, hue and shadow, as well, that should also be considered when viewing the world.
Having such a perspective, and thus being cognizant of the natural world in which you existed, and also, being responsive to it, resulted in your behavior being intertwined and regulated by the rhythms and the occasional irregularities occurring in nature. With this awareness and the associated responsiveness, one didn’t need overly abundant rules and regulations — blinking lights on poles, neon lit arrows pointing directions or endless reflective signs governing speeds or when to turn, or when not to turn.
In such a place, one needn’t be controlled and ruled by laws and lawyers, policemen and politicians, cops and robbers. Respect for the natural world (and its inhabitants) and common sense are all the really basic tools that are needed to make it through life in a peaceful and productive manner. Ridiculous complications just are not needed.
Today, in the world of cell phones, self-driving cars and faceless, artless sky scrapers, one cannot exist without conceptual realities, inorganic straight lines all over the place, rules and regulations stacked atop each other to the extent where, in the end, none of them make any sense at all. Plus, even in their failure to display any sort of reasonable logic, these laws and rules refuse to let one use that good old “common sense.” One man can be imprisoned for years for doing nothing wrong, while, on technicalities, another man can kill someone and get off, scot-free. There is so little common sense here.
In this modern, high-tech, wildly man-made world, common sense and respect for nature don’t simply take a back seat to the concepts and paradigms of mankind’s brain, too often common sense and respect for nature are simply ejected right out through the rear deck lid, left in the dust of crumbling roads and deteriorating bridges. In this place, what is important is being more “techy,” more “new and improved,” more “faster,” more “bigger and better,” more detached and ignorant of the natural world. The necessity to maintain the old world reality upon which the ability of the techy world is able to grow, and grow again and again, is ignored. Highways and byways, and bridges, are falling apart, but development of traffic tracking systems, license plate readers, huge Amber Alert signs, self driving cars are now on the cusp of the immediate future, showing all too obviously what the priorities of the corporate world are: more technology — yes, essential maintenance – no!
It is so ironic to me, that they can find the money to fund the symphony of dancing lights on the Bay Bridge’s suspension cables but the same bridge’s tunnel on Yerba Buena Island has deteriorated to the point where it has been dropping slabs of concrete onto cars passing through it. Just one more example of screwed up priorities.
The major, older religions of the earth all seemed to have shared one basic tenet: “go forth and multiply.” Each one of them wanted their followers to bring more converts into the fold. Each endeavoring to increase its power and influence, and I have to guess, to rule the whole earth, until there were no more people to convert. Was the goal of this common tenet to be that everyone was of one faith? What was the purpose of this? Perhaps it’s to find heaven on earth with sixteen vestal virgins for everyone (refer to Procol Harum)? And, really, where has such a common goal of several major, substantially successful religions found us? This common goal of these religions has found us in midst of endless turf wars and suffering the frustrated hate of constant, senseless, suicide terror attacks, hither, thither and yon.
But guess what? The newest religion, the newest, world wide crusade, transcends and, yet, embraces and permeates all of these older religions and is common to all of them. The new religion is the adoration, the senseless and unreasonable acceptance of the goals of international high tech corporations who, it seems, is to simply sell more of their products to consumers than their competitors. This is some sort of irresponsible, maniacal, high speed game of an arbitrary Monopoly sort of financial competition.
While the leaders and engineers and production personnel of these high tech corporations tell us their work leads to faster, better, cheaper, more powerful and more versatile products, I have to ask, products to do what? Why is it that we need “faster, bigger, smaller, better, thinner, fatter more BETTER products every eight months or so? What was so damned wrong with the earlier versions?
Do we need faster and more powerful products to dehumanize our children and disassociate them from their physical comrades through the use of cell phone messaging? Do we really need such much morely improved products, and “better” generations of such products, each generation being faster, more powerful, more “intuitive,” slimmer but with a larger screen with a million more pixels, while the human eye can’t really discern such improvements?
These imperceptible improvements by human sensibilities are given huge virtue simply by the application of sophisticated marketing and advertising tactics. Not for the virtue of human sensibilities, but simply as a result of marketing and advertising, hundreds of people stand in line to spend their money on product, unseen and unknown, with no really significant improvements, no substantial differences except for maybe a five or ten percent smaller or greater proportions, be it its thickness, thinness or one of so many colors. What foolishness! What a ridiculously self-processed and self-idolized exhibit of tom-foolery.
At not more than the age of 50 (not that many years ago), I can remember hauling a phone handset along with me, when I went for a swim in my own pool, that was dragging wires back to the telephone connections in the house. Cell phones were yet to be perfected. While we had the Internet back then, social media was yet to be invented. Guess what, you kids of the modern age, we CAN do without it, all of it. We got along just fine by talking to each other, face to face, and remembering what was to be said until we were face to face. This Millineal need for immediate social interaction makes absolutely no sense to me. How many car crashes do we experience for the sake of texting rather than the responsible and reasonable expectation of watching the road in front of you. Can such twisted priorities be anything but insane? Is this why we need self driving cars now? I don’t get it.
What of the natural world in which we live? The corporations make sure we believe that the natural world is quite OK, and will continue along just OK because this natural world is so huge and expansive. But what they don’t want you to know, is that those parts of the natural world which the modern corporate interests is those expansive and nearly endless lands of the corporately useless earth – the deserts, the jungles, the arctic and the antarctic, the tundra and taiga – all of these expansive lands are useless to the corporate interests, and useless as well, to the common folk, the burgeoning populations, usually living at the water’s edge.
In fact, these endless lands, however, exist and are necessary to provide such much more basic and important world wide resources, resources as essential as the very oxygen that we breath. And they produce these essentials in a very delicate and subtle manner. In any case, these endless lands are ignored and deemed useless by both the corporate giants and the mundane human masses, until they are found to contain some rich resource the corporate reality can turn into a profit. Once rich resources are discovered, we see the corporate interests dig up diamonds, coal, uranium, copper, so on and so forth. Other than for their profit, such lands are left to the natural world, to develop as it may, unfettered by human involvement. And, for the most part, when such treasures are found in the undesirable lands, it is usually lorded over by foreign owners and managers from the more desirable lands, who profit more and more, from the hidden riches of these poorer lands. But, in any case, these expansive and undesirable lands are never a magnet to attract the poor and mundane populations who don’t want much more than clear water to drink, a belly full of rice and a warm place to sleep. How much will these undesirable lands service the needs of the ever expanding human population, let alone the more comfortable situations in which the corporate executives exist.
The indigenous residents of these poorly endowed lands are most usually treated as not much more than slaves, to dig up the diamonds hidden in dangerously deep caves; or reaping and chopping cotton; planting, harvesting and shucking corn or the planting and processing of tobacco into all of its many forms. Indeed, we can even include the highly “illegal” but, oh, so profitable husbandry of the growth and distribution of such sundry substances as coca (the base plant from which is processed into cocaine), the several derivatives of the opium poppy and the huge and varied fields of cannabis being harvested all over the world, in illicit and highly valued havens that could be better used to provide essential and healthful nutritional crops for each of these local populations. But the concerns of the corporation does not include concern for the locals, the concern of the corporation is simply for the bottom line of its board of directors and the fearful but mildly greedy share holders who are looking for the shaky security of the modern world’s money markets, managed and made profitable in only the largest and most “corporate” of all the world’s greatest cities, the cathedrals and capitals of the unnatural world.
Recently, the slavery of the local masses has been assuaged by the mechanization of the lower class’s labors. Machines dig the caves, machines harvest and groom the cotton, machines sow and reap the corn, so on and so forth. And more and more, we find machines making machines. So what labors are left to the indigenous populations except to procreate, and make for an even greater number of unusable people?
We find more and more of the day-to-day world automated, robotized and made inhumane. Anthropologists tell us that the size of the human brain is slowly diminishing as we rely more and more on our “hi-tech, labor saving devices and systems” instead of our own natural, personal mental resources. Our connection to the basic, natural world is very much diminished. As we insist on having the newest and most up-to-date and multi-functional devices in front of our faces 24/7 on so many varied screens, and as we endear the more abstract, quasi-intellectual aspects of the corporate world, relying on marketing and advertising as their reality, our many and varied connections to the other real residents of this very natural world are so much diminished. Except for our pets, how much are we aware of the flora and fauna (plants and animals) that once surrounded and interacted with us on a daily basis, but now we are insulated and divorced from them. These are the sorts of connections which the corporate reality chooses to disenfranchise and ignore. Corporate health is reflected in the money markets and is measured in points acquired and lost on a daily basis. They do not regard success and failure in terms of life and death but only in point counts announced on the nightly news.
The new religion has only one priority, to sell it’s products. The big difference between this new religion and the old ones is that the old ones sold spirituality, an intangible thing, while the new one sells physical things, like computers, cars and cell phones. The old religions were paid off in prayers, the new religion is paid off only in dollars. If the new religion doesn’t sell stuff, it’s failing. If it does sell, it is successful. The problem is, once you’ve sold a thing to someone, what more can you sell them? What you need to maintain success is more “someones,” more consumers, to sell to. The new religion needs more people that don’t have what you are selling. Constantly, the new religion needs new consumers.
The old religions were successful at populating the earth. Wherever there is arable land, you will find people of one religion or another. In a certain sense, you can say that the humans are the most successful race of animals on the planet, as no other species is so widespread over the whole place. The problem is, for the new religion to succeed, it must OVER populate the earth. It must make sure that there is an unending supply of consumers.
Here lies the dilemma for our future. If we accept the corporate reality’s demand for unending, asymtopically increasing numbers of consumers of it products, certainly, we will very soon break down the natural, long standing, self-sustaining fabric of the many intertwined elements, large and small, of this natural, good earth. The natural system will collapse, and it will collapse with the same world shattering destruction of an earlier successful history, that of the dinosaurs. That history was blown asunder with the collision of a huge asteroid upon the earth, fouling the atmosphere and killing off all of the dominant species on our planet.
Our new religion, “UNBRIDLED TECHNOLOGY,” requiring unending consumers, will surely destroy our human history just as the dinosaur’s history was destroyed, but without any outer space influences. If the priorities of this new, dominant and all permeating religion are not altered or adjusted in good time, ultimately, our human history will come to an ugly end. Indeed, it may already be too late to make the adjustments, the ill effects of our overpopulation are already undeniable. We have screwed it all up, all by ourselves and our human history will end. Once again, the dominant species will be removed from the earth, like the sickening mildew on a rotting apple, awaiting a new beginning, echoing the history after the destruction of the dinosaurs. This pause in world domination, giving a new species the chance to cleanse the earth and prove their worth.
Unlike the deer on my childhood hiking path, this new religion, UNBRIDLED TECHNOLOGY, has no desire to share its subtle knowledge with the other natural neighbors of this very real world. These neighbors offer the new religion nothing in the terms of its success: dollars, or yen or euros or pesos, or any sort of man-made, abstract, conceptual currency. The more intangible elements of the real world are of no value to this new religion. For that reason, the history of the humans is damned.
In this new end, the deer will win the new world, a simple place.