Oh what a shame it is to grow cynical. As my mother watched the Channel 9 news coverage last night I told her to turn it over to some ‘real news’ as another report about a cat up a tree was presented to appease those who believe the news is always too tragic and sombre for them to actually watch it. I agree to an extent that remaining ignorant to the blur of conflict that occurs around us will probably keep us saner however I fear that this simply breeds a serious case of small-mindedness that will only kill us in the future, whether that be hundreds of years or millions of years from now. The question that some would raise at this point is ‘why does it matter if we will be dead by that stage?’
I don’t know. I really don’t know. I suppose through the absurdity of this life the only thing I can offer is that we can all hang our hats on a legacy we left. One that enjoyed the good times and fought through the bad times and when it all seemed to become too much, communities linked together to stop the rot, to fight the demons, to be the planet’s saviour. Again, does it really matter? We will probably never know, but we can only work with what we are given and we’ve been given something pretty fucking awe-inspiring.
My cynicism is a perfectly natural response to being given an excellent education that instilled an overinflated sense of personal worth in me as to avoid the ire of parents who were legitimately being taken to the cleaners. Private education is certainly more sales puff than being an overwhelmingly better service. Sure, the land is bigger, the grass is greener and the whole thing is glazed with an overcoat of delicious honey and nougat but the kids are still just regular kids, albeit controlled under tighter regulations and in fancy uniforms. One of my friends has told me to never apologise for being given a good education and of course I agree with him but I did feel guilty when I returned to my College, gawking in utter disbelief at the size and grandeur of the place. The clean cut grounds, the old Victorian architecture – who am I kidding, I don’t know when one era ends and the next begins -, the scintillating views and the footsteps of hundreds of thousands of privileged upper middle class kids searching the halls for their next lesson. Now that to me is the difference between public and private education. The attention to detail.
My education on the other hand was littered with inconsistencies. Brilliant teachers who led me in the right direction were disappointingly few and far between. I had a very competent history teacher for much of my schooling, an exceptional year 9 & 11 English teacher and the most hilarious year 10 Religious Education teacher. Yet in my most important year of schooling I had a year 12 literature teacher who was addicted to eating yogurt in between sentences and a year 12 English teacher who used the word ‘vicariously’ in excess of 2000 times for a book that deserved so much more. Now, my literature teacher was extremely bright, just not a very good teacher in my opinion. My English teacher either had an unholy lack of self-confidence in her own ability or she was just rubbish. I’ve actually still got her on Facebook and she was relatively attractive so I kind of hope she doesn’t read this, which would effectively end my very slim chance of living out a teenage boy cum young adult’s heavenly fantasy.
Anyway where was I going with this… Oh yes, living in an increasingly digitalised world has also led to an exuberant growth in our demand for more. We want more opportunities, more variety, more equality more convenience more excitement but also more security, more years to live out our merry lives and most importantly, more money for our family. But whilst we all think we deserve it, do we really deserve these guarantees? Our society is built upon the principle that you are given a circumstance at birth and you either live with it or you do your darndest to change it. So if you are born extremely rich you either live with your excessive lifestyle and walk into executive positions or you get on the needle 24/7 and blow your inheritance to smithereens. And vice versa. One obnoxious customer I once served had made a fair fortune selling overpriced caravans to bored seniors and he told me that if you are given an education at a one of Melbourne’s exclusive private schools you have an obligation to succeed. I also had an obligation to tell the guy he was a tightarse for giving his customers a free bottle of $7 chardonnay when he had millions in his bank account but I refrained against all my good judgment.
Some feel they are owed a very large sum from life. I do agree that if you put 10 years into further education, receive extremely high grades and then get told that there is not a job for you in a medical practice anywhere across the Western world then you have the right to be pissed off with how life has turned out. However this may come down to the fact that you are a sociopathic predator who has exhibited such behaviour in the past in a public forum. I imagine that would be the only justification for thousands of employers turning you down. Writers are owed credit when they personally produce something that is reused by another just as artists are, lawyers are owed money for the loss of their soul (I’m kidding, there are at least 7 lawyers out there who have yet to slight someone or something in order to win a case… God bless the legal system) and public officials are owed a small offering of our gratitude for putting up with whinging morons 60 hours of the week.
Again I temper my cynicism by looking at the positives. We need the legal system just as much as it needs our collective confidence. We need a way to punish those who commit a felony just as much as those who are innocent in the face of serious charges need a fair hearing without unfair presumptions of their guilt. But as we slip further and further into a world so overrun by red tape, it would be nice if the system was cheaper, more efficient and kinder to those who are not maliciously pervading society with their misdeeds. Then again, it is far too complicated to smash it all down and start again. The changes must be frustratingly small for a system that is so prodigious.
The thought that struck me so forcefully just over a month ago is that it is nigh on impossible to release our grip on the advances that have come our way. We try to imagine a world without mobile phones, without SUVs, without planes capable of taking hundreds of passengers across vast oceans and without the annoyance of social media keeping us in contact with people we would rather not have to stumble into on le interwebz. It is nice to envisage a world without Facebook and without my mobile phone constantly stymying my commitment to my studies, my reading and my personal (and muscular… I wish I was owed 5 kilos of muscle) growth but it has become so consolidated that, to paraphrase Harry Potter, neither can live while the other survives. We cannot imagine a life without the interference of social media because it has become so intrinsically attached to our existence that we almost believe that we would cease to be if we removed it from our lifestyles.
When you look at it from a distance, we are but molecules floating along in a constant breeze. The closer you get, the more we see how tightly our relationships are bound to each other. No man is an island just as no woman, no cry is the greatest myth ever invented. As I sent off a Facebook message to a girl I felt obliged to message due to the connection felt had sort of developed during a job induction that was compulsory for us to attend, I began to question things. Sure, I felt obliged to get in contact with this attractive girl who had a good sense of humour and a nice laugh but was I playing with fate? Does fate exist? Is chance something we have invented and now we cannot remove ourselves from the myth because without it, we are not even sure about our own existence anymore?
Her response was tepid at best, letting me know that she was impressed by my ‘resourceful creepiness’. I liked the banter, I got her number and I sparked an interest. Yet, as quickly as it built up, the facade broke down and our meeting started to look more improbable as we postponed until 2014. Surely this was a sign that playing with fate is a dangerous game. Or is that I just have never understood the concept in the first place?
We question a game we don’t really understand. It’s a dangerous thing to involve yourself in the game however it is probably just as dangerous to stay on the outside critiquing everything that happens within. I’m just going to end this overindulgent waffle-cone with a political message. If there is one thing we can engrave into our legacy, it is not that we kept the lines of communication open with every being we’ve ever met to the point of driving the theorem of romance into the turf but rather something along the lines of ‘Save the Great Barrier Reef.’ The Largest living structure on Earth.
Merry Christmas and a happy politically correct festive season!