We are living in an increasingly twisted world: The news of the controversy of a website designed to encourage people to cheat on their spouses takes precedence over the tragic news of hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing wars, oppression and misery in the Middle East and North Africa; a US president pays a visit to the Arctic ostensibly to promote policies against climate change just a few weeks after allowing a multinational oil company to drill for oil in that very Arctic Sea to produce more greenhouse gases responsible for the global warming; the more the US-led coalition conducts air strikes, the more the ISIS becomes entrenched in the territories it controls, now even to the point of minting their own money.
Being facts of life, how are we supposed to look at those contradictions? Should we accept them as they come, make an effort to change them, ponder on these matters for a while and then forget all about them?
These questions stem from a phone call I received from a reader last week. The elderly lady at the other end of the line was asking whether the townsfolk could be invited to think about the miserable conditions of the hundreds of thousands of refugees making the news over the past few weeks, either with their deaths by drowning in the seas or by suffocating in a truck abandoned on a highway or with their immensely difficult journeys. She was even suggesting that the town leadership make an effort to have some of the refugees relocated in the town on a temporary basis just to relieve their suffering for a bit.
I was having mixed feelings when I hung up the phone: I was torn between my respect for the concern the caller had felt for those people in search of safety, security and a decent life thousands of miles away from Canada and my cynical realism that said it would never happen, especially under the current circumstances with an economy in decline.
Since the dawn of history, human kind has been not only been transforming Mother Nature, its only space to live, but doing that in an increasingly destructive manner? Why?
Because humankind has turned the two of the most basic processes for survival, eating and reproduction, into sources of pleasure, the only species to do so.
The urge to satisfy those pleasures has whipped up the aggressive nature of the human being and over millennia we have just become slaves of our greed to have more of both food and sex. But greed has a habit of being contagious, greed for better and tastier food and sex has turned into greed for more of everything, clothing, accommodation, entertainment, and power; and we have created economic systems and went into global wars to quench the thirst for more of everything. And we still keep doing the same thing, creating conflicts for more power and control.
Now well into the second decade of the 21st century, take a look, if you don’t mind, at the frequency of our TV ads: Online dating sites and fast food chains are the most advertised businesses, an indication that commercial interest is still very high in making money by urging people to satisfy their two basic pleasures through the services offered by this or the other company.
This is not to say that human species is the only destructive one when it comes to harming the nature; if, for example, the elephant population had not been checked by ivory poachers, most parts of Africa or Southeast Asia would have been trampled by elephant herds by now. But the process of natural selection would still be able to return the balance to the environment.
The problem with what we have been doing is unique: We are harming our own kind and our habitat in such a way that there is no point of return.
Do you see any light at the end of the tunnel that it might change?