Watch Aaron in the film Holy Wars

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

They'll still be eating

I was hoping to write a humorous post today, but the strange thing is, I can't really think of anything both humorous and enlightening (except for the fact that my trash truck woes continue to this day, you should have seen me jump out of bed this morning and running to the end of my driveway in my pajamas...on second thought...maybe you shouldn't have..but I digress)

If you look at the comments on my progress verses apocalypse post, you'll see an interesting essay on how our technological society causes us to over-think and also be over-entertained. The point was made that when we are not thinking or being entertained, we get depressed. The point of the comment was that technology eventually leads to emotional bankrupcy.

I have a hard time arguing with the thesis of the comment, I'm just not sure what should be done about it. Henry David Thoreau theorized that modern man is overworked and is much better off leading lives of quiet contemplation in closer harmony with nature. While that idea might sound a bit far-fetched to us today, we should keep in mind that while Thoreau was picking lilies at Walden Pond, he was developping concepts that eventually led to writing an essay called civil disobedience, an essay that influenced both Ghandi and Martin Luther King and laid the groundwork for peaceful human rights movements around the world.

I think any idea can be taken to the extreme, however, even this one. The Cambodian dictator Pol Pot developed the idea that modernization is evil and wanted to transform Cambodia into a strictly agrarian society. The result was a movement that slaughtered over two million people and set the country's economy back decades.

One last thought. I heard of a missionary to a native tribe in Mexico who was describing the agrarian lifestyle of the people he was serving. When asked how the people could live in such substandard conditions, he replied. Maybe their lifestyle isn't so bad after all. You Americans are storing food for Y2K, but if the entire world economy collapses, they'll still be eating.

4 comments:

Pete said...

I have to disagree with the anti-technology movement. God gave us brains....let's use them. As with everything, balance comes into play, which means, once again, we have to use our brains about it.
Pete
P.S. Humans have a way of taking things to the extreme instead of using balance and Thoreau is no exception.

Aaron D. Taylor said...

I agree that we have to be balanced in everything. My post is not a blanket endorsement on everything that Thoreau taught. I agree that humans have a way of taking things to an extreme and Thoreau was no exception. I do think, though, that sometimes there is a place for unbalanced people. You don't find the center by standing at the center. Sometimes the world needs a little help by those who sit on the other side of the seesaw. My point is that we easily look down on other societies by the way they order their lives without considering that often there are valid reasons for their lifestyles. A little cultural humility would do us all some good.

Pete said...

No argument against cultural humility. The people on the ends of the seesaw may be helping the whole thing balance, but that doesn't make them any less wrong. Tim Hardaway was interviewed about a former NBA player who had "come out of the closet". His reply to the situation was the he "hates all gays". The issue was brought into the light much quicker and more thoughtfully because of this, but Tim Hardaway is still wrong to hate all gays.
Pete

Aaron D. Taylor said...

I agree with what you are saying. I just don't think it has much to do with what we're talking about. I'm not talking about clear and defined moral issues. I'm talking about lifestyle choices and following one's conscience. I'm not sure how Thoreau compares with a gay hater.