Friday, January 22, 2010

Much Ado about Nothing

That is essentially my view of life or at least that is what I think is going on. We make such a fuss about our life that there are times when we come to the conclusion that "this is it" "there is no turning back" "I must be at the lowest point" "How can I survive this" etc. I believe this has something to do with the spirit of our age and hence the name "Zeitgeist" on guard. I think we overestimate our importance, don’t get me wrong, I am all for individual freedom and humanism but I think our glorification of human beings is now creating issues. You see, we have created a world where human beings or rather a single individual is essentially at the center of the universe. We are probably more anthropocentric than Ptolemaic science ever was; well at least they were humanity centered with their geocentric view.

Our glorification of the individual has created a somewhat solipsistic world, where we tend to overestimate our importance or rather of things we do. It is a make belief world of equals that we live in. Although poverty is dramatically going down thanks to rapid growth of India and China but inequality continues to rise. The difference between rich and poor countries has gone up from 10 fold to 70 fold in the last hundred years. We may think we are more equal than before, but data is not so confident about that claim.

Technology has greatly facilitated communication and as a result international trade has gone up substantially. But what about families and people keeping in touch? Well social networks like facebook, myspace blogging etc are indeed bringing people closer but the pertinent question is how strong these ties are, can they compensate for the weakening family and community ties which surely is taking place. Even more interesting is why people would choose to connect with people outside their domain in the first place. I think we human beings are fighting two conflicting force, one cultural and one evolutionary. On a cultural side our world is forcing us to become more individualistic and go getter, while on an evolutionary side we human beings are social by nature and hence ultimately we try to seek a balance. Friendship over the internet is the best you can hope under the circumstance, it gives you that feeling of belonging and friendship without impinging on any of your "sacred individual freedom".

I dont think being individualistic is in any way negative but what I do feel is creating a problem is our fixation with ourselves and our world, which in all honesty in majority of the cases is a very narrow view of life. Does that mean we should consider ourselves to be unimportant or that we have no impact on the world, a rather fatalistic pessimistic view one might say? First of all there is nothing like "either this or that" in real life; life is much more granular, mosaic like and grey than it is purported to be by any moralist and others alike. There is no definite answer but I think to acknowledge that there is no such answer is a big step forward. We are too ignorant to be definite about anything, let alone what is right and wrong.

I believe it is also important for us to think about World issues, like poverty, is there a God, can we ever know the truth, how did the universe start etc. I think Bertrand Russell once pointed  out that it is not necessarily the answers to these questions that are important but the thinking itself. When we think about such larger than life universal ideas, our mind broadens. It becomes evident how insignificant we are and in time of distress I think it can be a great solace. I often think there have been times in my younger days when I was really muddled up and tensed but now as I look at those issues they look all so insignificant. If your past problems look so insignificant now, then it is very likely that your current problem will look much the same way in the near future. If that is the case then why bother. After all as Wilde said Life is too important to be taken seriously.


  1. Hah hah, JOSS post! I want to share this over Facebook! :)

    I can't really say much about this... this is so macro level. Apni prothom dike individualismke bash dileo shesher dike balanced treatment disen. So... :)

    Lucidity better... tobe shorten your paragraphs. :)

    Link my English blog to your blogroll (

    I will provide more feedback if I find anything amiss in my reread. Start of a revolution! :)

    -- Monwar

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