Monday, September 02, 2013

The Utter Absurdity of it All

Definition of ABSURD from my online dictionary:
: ridiculously unreasonable, unsound, or incongruous absurd
: having no rational or orderly relationship to human life :meaningless absurd

I realize the dictionary is perhaps not the most precise and definitive authority for the meaning of any given word, but the above is good enough for the moment.

I have always assumed (at least as long as I can remember) that humans are social creatures who by nature live in social groups. They do this for their own mutual protection and cooperation in the face of natural or other potential problems. That is, they look out for each other and attempt to maintain their “society” for their mutual benefit.

Each society operates with a complex system of beliefs, values, customs, and mutually shared ways of behaving, complicated “webs of meaning,” developed, shared, and understood over time by the members, and transmitted extra-genetically from one generation to the next.  This “culture” functions  to  promote their well-being over time, to educate, or “enculturate” each successive generation, to delineate the general parameters of right and wrong, proper and improper, to preserve the overall character of their society, and most of all to provide its members with the basic necessities of life.

 Perhaps this is a naïve idea of how the human condition is basically supposed to be. But if it is even approximately true I would argue that our contemporary socio-cultural situation here in the United States has deviated so far as to have become absurd. And I mean “ridiculously unreasonable, unsound, and incongruous,” as well as “having no rational or orderly relationship to human life.” We have developed what I must consider a full-blown and highly developed “culture of the absurd.”

When a handful of individuals in a single family control more wealth than 40% of the rest of the population, that is absurd. When a few billionaires can more or less bribe enough of our leadership to do their bidding rather than act for the common good, that, too, is absurd. When half the population is living at poverty level, and individuals who work full-time cannot earn enough even to support their families, that is absurd. When millions of individuals in the so-called “greatest nation on earth” have no health insurance, and other interests work to keep it that way, that is absurd. When a culture forces its children to go deeply into debt for their education, contrary to the very survival and well-being of the nation itself, that is absurd. When a nation refuses to act to prevent perhaps the most important threat to human existence ever, that is absurd. When it fouls its own nest and chokes from exhaust and strangles from its own waste,  that, too, is absurd. When a nation spends half its annual income on “defense” from purely imaginary enemies, and shamefully neglect s its own infrastructure, that is absurd. Finally, for the moment, when we are about to illegally attack a smaller country that is no threat to us, for reasons that are quite likely not even true, that is absurd. And to ignore more than 100,000 deaths by bombs, small arms, and such, and focus on about 1000 from chemicals, when we ourselves have used chemicals, is perhaps the ultimate absurdity.

Culturally our most important media is little more than a wasteland of complete and utter nonsense that exists mainly to provide an excuse for more and more advertising. Our news has now become infotainment with an apparent obsession with various real and imaginary scandals, to say nothing of “nip slips” and “wardrobe malfunctions.” And we hear far more about erections and orgasms, new drugs for imaginary health problems, how to lose weight, and “ask your doctor” about…  than any useful information about anything.
Think about it, do you really believe society exists so that a very few can amass obscene fortunes at the expense of the vast majority, that so many families are supposed to endure poverty so a few can enjoy more wealth than they can even count, that health care should be just for a privileged few, that money itself can beget more money with no effort on the part of those who “have?” Our culture and society have become completely absurd, so absurd that apparently absurdity has become the norm rather than the exception. Our own lives have become so inconsequential and unpleasant, so “unreal,” we now have “reality” shows on TV. People, I guess, actually watch this unending drivel.

I confess I think I have “had it.” Wherever I look I see just more absurdities. Short of a major “cultural revolution” I cannot see much, even any, hope. The United States as a nation is failing. Indeed, the human species is failing. Happily I will not be around to witness the bitter end.

  Business practices and how we treat the planet are also in desperate need of re-humanization.
Simon Mainwaring

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