An "Embarrassment of Riches" may be equally hazardous to your mental health and wellness.
The Enrichment Schism
Contemporary human life, especially as found in modern western societies is not altogether different, as a metaphor, from the consumed processed foods that line supermarket shelves.
Advanced human culture is as detached and removed from the “real” world, as is a fast food hamburger or hotdog from the slaughtered cow or pig from which it was derived. Humanity, while ever more sophisticated, demonstrates by non-virtue of its multiple-standard approach to animals, the environment and even itself, a common pathological schizophrenia that if manifested by an individual, would be grounds for immediate and forcible committal to an insane asylum.
Humankind consistently exhibits a contempt for the natural world from which it was spawned. And in so doing, has alienated itself from that real world in favor of some precarious attachment to a life without substance, minus all recourse or contingency if threatened by catastrophe. A lifestyle sustained solely by the availability of fossil fuel and electricity. And if taken away, a standard of living that would quickly crash backward through time and thrust the remaining survivors into a savage arena from which far fewer, if any, should escape the ravages of disease, starvation, and predators who would eagerly devour these humans’ intelligent, educated brains.
An old saying suggests that we all should “stop and smell the roses” from time to time. That we rest from the daily hubbub of our hectic lives and take a moment to appreciate the good we enjoy, and strive to improve what is bad. Unfortunately the blush is off the bloom, for the flower is plastic and our meditative reflection centers around exclusively human concerns, joys, and circumstances. Again we tend to ignore the full and rich architecture of our existence, the contextual framework that surrounds us, envelops and engulfs us, that binds us to it, it to us.
Alas, the hamburger and hotdog are a form of Biblical, heavenly manna, the source of which is neither animal nor vegetable, but rather is somehow technologically mineral. That mechanical, artificial intelligence is always measured in terms of a smart, humanlike brain, but rarely the passionate, equally human heart.
The Hopi Indians used the word Koyaanisquatsi to describe a life “out-of-balance”. Seemingly a reference to being out-of-sync with the natural world, and much to the detriment of all concerned.
An irony exists in the sense that the term itself is now an obsolete understatement that fails to adequately describe the huge gap, a rift, which now separates humans from their origins, their roots, from reality in its most basic, organic form.
Though proffered by the most jaded of misogynists and misanthropes, by those who believe one or more great conspiracies control the destinies of all governments and countries, it is probably not the case that a few powerful families or financial empires govern all economic and political events on a global scale.
More likely the status of world economies and politics is, at any given moment, the result of one or more of only three possible causes:
02. Financial Profit.
An unholy triad exists that, by virtue of multiple and numerous private entities, both miniature and minor empires, independent, conspiratorial and figuratively incestuous, all at odds each with the other, is arguably at the very core of both human triumph and suffering. Members of this disorganized union of egotists include, but are not limited to:
01. Media groups such as TV, radio, movies, newspapers, magazines and books.
02. Government groups that include local, state, and federal bureaucracies.
03. Education groups that include elementary, junior, high school, and college personnel.
04. Religious groups that include both organized and nondenominational, nonsectarian institutions.
All of the institutions mentioned contribute to a new type of isolationism marked by large numbers within a population who lack exposure to, and suffer from an ignorance of, the diverse cultures, peoples, and conditions that truly exist around the world. The attitudes, demeanors, and world views of persons who have not experienced on any substantial level, a sense of the human community, tend to retain abstract views and remain removed from an authentic appreciation for themselves as people, and from global affairs as a whole. Psychologically such persons live dangerous, paranoid, impoverished little lives.
Given that most of humanity lives in squalor, is hungry, sick, uneducated, unaware and uninformed, the quality of life enjoyed by a relative minority is especially remarkable. An added bit of irony is how the most unfortunate of peoples are likely more in touch with real life, the actual world, than are their privileged counterparts.
Large groups and small whose members cling to the trivial, inconsequential truths of the world, embrace them with a jealous fervor. Like fanatical zealots they covet that which is narrow, shallow, thin, weak, mediocre, mundane -- and literal.
The great wisdom of the world hints that real truths are neither great nor absolute. That they are not the private, personal domain of any single person, group, government or religious faith. That truth is always passive, visible only to the casual, uninvolved observer.
Humanity in its climb to supremacy, has succeeded best in creating a synthetic, artificial existence. A social order that is so caught up in itself, so focused on its daily routines and machinations, all of which are considered sacrosanct, that the Earth’s physical environment is perceived as more to do with human activities, and less with whatever organic systems underlie the process of existence itself.
Among all the celebratory achievements that place the human species on a pedestal of superiority, Homo sapiens can also lay claim as the only animal to willfully and willingly disconnect from every other aspect of the world in which it lives and dies. This disconnection is so complete and absolute, so inculcated and acculturated, that humankind considers as blasphemous any suggestion whatsoever which describes a kindred relationship between human beings and other animals. The very notion that Man is merely an intelligent, sentient animal surrounded by kindred (albeit less endowed) others is rejected outright by many, and without debate.
In a haughty, self-aggrandizing leap of unrivaled, egotistical arrogance, humankind declares itself of Divine Origin. The crowning achievement of some omniscient, omnipotent Being who, between conjuring whole galaxies via a bent pinky, decided one day to create hordes of adulating worshipers. Then punish those who failed to glorify Him.
Even in the modern and enlightened era of a new millennium, Creationists persist in defending Biblical literacy, continue to argue against scientific, evolutionary doctrines and discoveries. It is no coincidence that such religious dogma, based on denial, should run parallel with concepts and life practices that attempt to segregate the natural “self” from the natural world. A myopic blindness whereas humans are indigenous, but not native to the planet.
A spillover effect indoctrinates whole populations with non-religious belief systems that nonetheless also view the meaning, purpose, and reason for human existence as unrelated to organic origins or dependencies. Further evidence that technologies tend, initially, to alienate their users from that which is non-technical in nature.
The inherent and inevitable neurotic behaviors that result from intimate relationships with mechanical extensions of one’s own physiological structures, leave the bulk of humanity vulnerable, susceptible, and prone to sudden and devastating catastrophic social collapse.
If humankind is to ever extinguish the passions that give rise to contempt for its true place in the world, for itself, its obligations, roles and responsibilities, the human animal must find some way back to nature. Must somehow meld the biological and spiritual with the technical. Only then will the self-inflicted horrors spawned by untethered minds be dispelled and eradicated. Only then will people see themselves as interdependent citizens of a vast community.
And only then will the true angels of the human soul fly free of their self-imposed restraints.