Friday, November 15, 2019

A Dog's Eye: The Band-Aid Century

I sometimes wonder if people understand the cyclical nature of life. I don't mean birth, marriage, life and death. I'm not talking about the cycle of life because with minor variations here and there, it's basically the same experience for all of us homo sapiens. And people know that. Opinions about the purpose of it all only differ in limited ways. In relation to world views, there is a fairly basic dichotomy. There's nothing new here.

Nothing new. Exactly my point. I'm currently reading The Memoirs of Richard Nixon who is best remembered for the opprobrium of Watergate. What has struck me several times, while reading-skimming quite a bit actually-is how the names change but the issues don't. International tensions have always existed. Wars go on continually. We've never had world peace. Natural disasters. No solutions, just mitigation of consequences. Political shenanigans. Questionable integrity. Frustrating lack of vision and real leadership. Promising economic theories which don't work. Blah. Blah. Blah.

A couple of light examples will suffice to demonstrate my point. Richard Nixon was President of the United States from 1969-1974. coming to power when the US had to get out of Vietnam, but
couldn't. It was the single biggest issue. Protests were frequent and frequently violent. On one occasion, he called a university student protester a "bum". Immediate echoes for me of former Australian Prime Minster Paul Keating in 1995 telling a group of student protesters to "go and get jobs." Twenty years apart, in different countries, yet the comments of these national leaders grabbed the headlines; overwhelming the actual object of the protests.

Early in Nixon's presidency, just as television was flexing its muscles as a monstrous manipulator of public opinion, he wrote about how personalities and television performances were becoming more important than actual policy. Little could he guess, how truly bad it would get. In the US, as here in Australia, what passes for news, as delivered through most media in the 21st century, is an embarrassing collection of prejudiced half truths.

The funny thing is people are still complaining about this all the time. Talk to anyone who's alive and at least partially connected to society. They will say the same things. Finding an original idea is like searching for elephants in an ocean. People whine endlessly about all kinds of things, alternating between shock and outrage, always taken by surprise by the things which keep happening.

The results of a research project into children's attitudes to homework were announced earlier in the year. Guess what? Children don't like homework. There's a new diet guaranteed to shift the weight you lazily allowed to accumulate. No wait, it doesn't work. Shock. Horror. A person on Twitter called me a moron because I misunderstood her. Oh no. I've never been called an idiot by someone who doesn't even know me. I'm devastated. I drank too much alcohol last night. I feel sick today. I can't work. No. Really? I had sex with a guy on the first date now he doesn't want to see me again. I could give thousands of examples of how individual people, and society as a whole, seem incapable of learning from mistakes.

Everyone knows the tongue in cheek definition of madness: repeating an action and expecting a different result. Chuckle. Chuckle. But we all do it. Same mistakes by us. Same mistakes by others. Same problems. Same ineffective solutions, and round and round we go.

Blind and stupid. That's what we are, God bless us. Blind, stupid, and fragile, but loved immeasurably by God anyway. I'm calling the 21st century the  band-aid century because nobody wants to address the root cause of all our problems. Instead of highly qualified and experienced physicians we consult Dr. Google. Don't treat my cancer doctor. It's too inconvenient. Just put a band-aid on it, and I'll pretend it's okay. Nobody does that with their health, but what about the health of our relationships and our society. Don't like that question? Too hard? My apologies.

There's a new weight loss program out now which involves eating a balanced diet and exercising. Wow! Why didn't someone think of that before? Never mind. We'll be okay now. As we say Down Under: "She'll be right, mate." Pass the band-aids please. I just cut myself, and by the way did you know children don't like homework?