I often play like to played devil’s advocates which unfortunately means I also have to act devil’s advocate to alot of my own opinions. I suppose that when you spend alot of time thinking about random things, you end up seeing far more sides of it. When this happens, you realise that your original opinions on topics are only that, opinions and the only real thing is to stay on the fence
Take this for example
It is a good notion to go out and to actively wish to affect people’s lives in a positive manner. To do this (especially as a collective) will ultimately lead to a better life for all.
It sounds like a plausible opinion to have about life and the majority of people wouldn’t find fault with the statement as it stands however it can lead to problems.
For example, the problem really comes in as what is considered as a positive manner.
Take makeover shows like ‘How to look good naked’ or ‘What not to wear’, ‘secret millionaire’, ‘supernanny’, ‘kitchen nightmares’ etc.
In these shows, the producers generally find people who are going through difficult times in their lives and they make overcoming these obstacles via the show’s desired platform a plot device.
But the large majority of these individuals have quite deep rooted issues, and the while the shows may end up making a positive impact on their lives in the short run, I don’t believe they manage to get the root problem of these issues. They often take what I would like to call a ‘cosmetic approach’ to solving issues.
These are methods when you try and change the outside of something and hope that it ends up, sinking in. Sure on the short term, it may look like you have positively made a difference, especially when the support system is still there but when this all dries up, and the cosmetic change has come and gone, you will find that the people you have helped can end up being worse off than when they were originally approached. This is because they now have a glimpse of a lifestyle that they want but can’t necessarily get. They return to the status quo of life without the cameras around and you realise that their issues are still as apparent as ever.
It’s almost like spending millions on rehabilitating offenders and then returning them back to their world with high unemployment, lots of idol time and the heavy influence of their peers. Worst of all, society becomes more intolerant to re-offenders and then almost looks down on them more than original when ‘they didn’t know better’.
So you see that your original charitable impact of compassion has led to an actual net negative impact.
This is a bit of a bugger.
You see the problem generally comes down to ideas of what we believe is positive. Take a simple food change scenario.
if we choose to save a zebra from being eaten by a lion, then we have done a positive thing for the zebra. But we step out from that and see the lion goes hungry and then dies. If we step out further, we notice the increased zebras, then overgrow the land and all the crops end up dying, we zoom out further and find all the insect life required to survive on those crops then all go too (not to mention the scavengers of the zebra carcass). And then we zoom out to the entire ecosystem and realise that what was once a positive action has put the entire thing in turmoil.
You see a positive impact can be handled in by the perception of the viewer and the receiver. it’s affected by perception and also scale. Take a squiggly line. up close it may be a mess. From further apart, it may look like a straight line. from further out you can actually see it’s part of a circle. From the sky, it’s simply a dote and from outer space, it just doesn’t even exist. How do you get a giant to convey to an insect that the squiggly line as clear as day to them, simply doesn’t exist.
History has always been blessed with enlightened people and enlightened leaders. There are billions of people who want to change the world for the better, all with a billion different ideas. Most concepts that lead to a Uptopia have already been conjured up in one form or the other. infact one of my greatest fears already is that one person has managed to come up with the most perfect original idea and its simply sitting on a shelf somewhere unread, along with billion of other perfect ideas. We are just hear forever waiting for it to be implemented while other people attempt to emulate it and re-imagine it in their own image for their own time.
But with this all this that has happened and will happen, Why hasn’t the world changed? there’s still crime, there’s still death, the rich still rule over the poor, peoples still die of hunger, people still love, cry, hate, laugh and all sorts.
This truly makes me question whether anything we do, ever really matter. We know somewhere down the line eventually an equal and opposite will rival its suggestion and make it mute. You then realise you are just as likely to positively affect someone with ‘good’ things you do just as well as the ‘bad’ things you do. if you spread the like out, you’ll realise that all our affections have (entertwined) no and all affect on everything around us (depending if you are the ant or the giant)? Our everything is simply a constant, whether it’s forever changing or forever staying the same, it’s still a constant.
So I end up arguing with myself why bother trying to make a positive difference?
and my only retort ends up being.
‘Because I can’
and with that, I manage to return quite swiftly to my starting point on the fence. I am both the optimistic activist, the pessimistic anarchist and the indifferent nihilist all rolled into one. However I am (and we all are) all something more. As the former Wachoski brothers tried to explain once before in this lovely scene.
You see we are given a choice in our actions. It doesn’t necessarily matter the decision we make per say, just the fact that we make a choice. it is this ability to choose (regardless of how important or pointless that decision is) that makes us human. Even if our ultimate choice is the choose not to act at all. It is the choice of choice that turns defines who we are and what we do with our lives and the values we, society and history will bestow upon them. Even if that choice does and doesn’t affect anything else, it affects you.
Perhaps that’s all that matters. Perhaps…