Thursday, February 03, 2005

The more things change...

...the more they stay the same. Or so the saying goes.

Pondering a few recent forums and events I began thinking about how we view the world and what we expect from it. I think many of us (most of us?) look at this wonderful new world and society in which we live, with brave new ideals, and we see it as a vastly different place to the ancient world, medieval world etc.

We look at technological developments, medicinal improvements, improvements in areas of social equality in justice, and see 'how far we've come'. We also look forward to the way we hope to see the world in the future, even more 'advanced' and 'better' than it is. I wonder though just how much really has changed. Human nature I think has remained very much the same as ever.

Perhaps one event that got me thinking was the current war in Iraq. I considered how things might be if this war was being fought years ago. Before the mass media, in times where everyone didn't always know what was going on. I wonder what war was like then. What happened then. We sit here now in a position where we are more informed than ever before, and I wonder if we believe our vantage point to be higher than it really is. We think we're near to the reality because of all we see and hear, but I wonder if that truly is the case.

We look at decisions of government in these matters and we find ourselves able to relax back in our chairs whilst pointing out errors, mistakes, and the way things should be going. We judge our goverments for making war in ways which governments have made war throughout history. Actually, they make war now in much cleaner and more accountable ways than ever before, and yet I think we expect a more sanitised approach to war and other things than perhaps is realistic. No matter how 'nice' or 'righteous' we can try to make war, or even just life, I doubt whether it will ever be what we expect in so many ways. This then makes me wonder whether our expectation or notions of reality or humanity are in fact correct or wise.

We stand now and look back on history and proclaim our superiority, and we so easily condemn the actions of history that have founded the world in which we now live. We deny the reality of, and lessons about, humanity that those things might teach us, even if they are in fact very, very dark. Perhaps though, what we should realise is that the world is dark. Humanity is dark. To pretend that such is not the truth is to deceive ourselves and live in and dream of a dream-world.

I'm not trying to put together a clever defense of the war in Iraq to add to the long list of arguments for and against that issue. I'm just wondering whether we in this age of mass communication are not deceiving ourselves. It's as if we are people living in some sort of clean, organised and sanitised hospital, trying to establish such as the way life and the world should be. Yet in outside those reinforced doors, bleached floors, florescent lights, security monitors, intercom systems, drugs, and schedules there world rolls on the same as it ever has been. Wide, open, a place of contrasts, dark and light, beauty and horror, unexpected, offering both unparalled violence and peace, harmony and discord.

I think the world is a darker and messier place than many of us want to believe, and than some want to accept, and perhaps more pertinently, I think human beings are darker, much darker.

We want war to end, we want violence and suffering to go away, but upon what basis are our hopes and beliefs founded?