Decent People

March 8, 2008

In months where I have had few heart- warming thoughts there has been one: people are fundamentally decent.

I lie, there has been more than one heart warming thought but all the others are either pornographic or involve ideas for elaborate practical jokes- one in particular needing access to 1005 garden gnomes and a thermonuclear warhead.

But as far as sensible, heart-warming thoughts go (or sensible thoughts at all) it can be, pretty much, whittled down to just the one. In case you have already forgotten it is that people are fundamentally decent.

The proof is in Democracy. In order to get people in a democracy to support ideas that are not fundamentally decent you have to lie to them (or blackmail them, bribe them or offer them sex). The failings of modern democracies like the USA, the UK and some of the European countries comes down to information. The gathering of it, the access to it, the dissemination of it and how much it is valued by people. You and I are being lied to every day and most of the time we don’t realise it.

We are never taught, either by our parents or in school, how to value information. We are not shown how to look at and absorb information we find abhorrent and that conflicts with our world view. We are not shown how to look for jewels of information in sludge or great ideas from those we dislike or hate.

We are taught to reject ideas or thoughts based on the people who presented them to us rather than the merits of the ideas. It is possible that one day Paris Hilton will say something insightful- possibly off a cue card. It is possible that George Bush will be vindicated by history- possibly on mental grounds and it is possible that, one day, the world will look back on Donald Trump’s hair as the beginning of a fashion trend. Yet these are things I just cannot accept in my reality. It’s a bit too far beyond “The Matrix”. But I try to keep that mind open.

What school needs teach is a critical mind. Less regurgitation of the traditional national exports of Mongolia and more thought on whether what their tutor just said is utter bollocks.

People are basically decent. But we are also basically ignorant and the ignorant cannot choose a government because their “choice” isn’t theirs. It belongs to whoever fed them the information.

But, then again. Perhaps I am wrong.

Maybe there is someone out there willing to offer me money or sex to change my opinion… it’s worth a shot. I am a flexible guy.

I have been waiting for a psychological backlash to the most shallow generation in history: the tweeny label- whores from hell. What we may come to see as the “bling” generation.

Sucked into the advertising mire more than any generation in history. People have sought guidance and self- definition through the ages from Drugs, Religions, Warlords, Pacifists, Prophets, the Famous and the Fatuous. This was the first to start to look to possessions for guidance. The pendulum always swings back and forth and, as usual, at the tip of the conservative end of the swing was an annoying war that finally sends the pendulum back. It has been building, though, for quite some time and just needed (mixing my metaphors badly) a trigger.

I remember well this from fight club, Tyler Durden: Man, I see in fight club the strongest and smartest men who’ve ever lived. I see all this potential, and I see squandering. God damn it, an entire generation pumping gas, waiting tables; slaves with white collars. Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don’t need. We’re the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our Great War’s a spiritual war… our Great Depression is our lives. We’ve all been raised on television to believe that one day we’d all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars. But we won’t. And we’re slowly learning that fact. And we’re very, very pissed off.

Born in the 70’s I have been through the swing away from the Love, Liberalism and Peace of the late 60s and early 70s to the money- orientated conservatism, large hair and bad pastel suits of the early 80s, through the grunge gender anonymity and unshaven women of the late 80s and early 90s and on to the vicious capitalist label feeding frenzy of the turn of the century.

This global warming thing we finally noticed (I did a school project on it in 1984- took the governments of the world 23 yrs to catch up to a student who spent less time in class than George W. does at work), of course, will not be stopped and I wonder how, at the tip of the green touchy- feely renaissance the other end of society will spin things and what they will place on the table to get society to start the swing back towards conservatism.

Will recreational space flight be it? Immersive computer games to get away from the mess when people get exhausted from over-caring? Or are they smart enough to have worked out enough ways to market the new green movement in such a way that they can profit from it? I think so. I take all 3 but in reverse order.

Looked at dispassionately neither side of the swing has any better claim to sanity. From the one side of rich warmongers and authority to the poor vegan touchy- feely side there is plenty of nonsense. But if there is nonsense to be had I prefer the pendulum at the point where we stop caring too much about possessions, allow dull people to take drugs to make them more interesting, stop caring too much about our jobs and start enjoying our sexuality more but women still shave their armpits.

Pools have a shallow end and a deep end. So, sometimes, do I.

Hazel the chimp, in Austria, saved from vivisection and placed in a now bankrupt Zoo, is looking to be adopted by a “legal guardian” and achieve some of the basic rights as humans*. Part of the argument for is based on the science of DNA. Chimps have a 96% similarity in DNA to humans. Here again you have to be careful as statistical medicine rears it’s ugly head. Perspective, in this case, is needed.

Human beings are also 64% related, in their DNA, to bananas. Do we give them 64% of our human rights? We are 94% related to rats and Donald Trump, except that the rats (who are .0001% closer in relation to us than Trump) have far better hair. Do we save them from vivisection?

When considering rights, like the right to not be vivisected in a lab somewhere, I am all for saving chimps and rats but not, as it happens, Donald Trump. We also have to consider that no-one on earth besides Trump himself would be likely to back him for having human rights so I guess that does ease any complications.

When campaigning for human, animal or, indeed, fruit and vegetable rights we need to consider the animal and plant kingdom, too, and how it operates. We, no matter what we think, are no better than other animals except for a creativity born of necessity to what has to be the crappiest predator on the planet (when unarmed). Cows do not think twice when munching away on grass and Tigers don’t think twice when ripping a human head from a human body and later munching on it’s small intestines.

What is my point? I wish I knew. I am off to eat a banana, masturbate in front of a monkey and vivisect Donald Trump. Serves them all right.

midnightjester
*- BBCWorld, 2007/03/28