When your average Joe goes about his life doing what he does, he thinks he’s living life as God intended, or as fate intended.
If your average Joe is an atheist, or a scientist, or an agnostic with a bunch of diverging opinions on what life is all about, he lives life according to his favorite political creed, his cultural needs, or as his worldview prescribes. He goes about his business in a manner that befits his ideals, contributing to the world’s advancement, or so he thinks, because he doesn’t know any better.
It’s business as usual with a misleading twist. Joe’s way of doing things is often deemed appropriate, especially if he’s the curious kind of Joe, but his stance isn’t necessarily visionary or relevant, not in the macro sense of the word. No matter how informed he may be, his core choices are similar to those of countless others, falling within the wide parameters of a pooled, predictable set of worldviews, among the totality of which he operates, composing the mosaic called humanity.
Humanity — loaded word — is meant to be a good term, indicative of compassion, morality, empathy, civilization, all the amazing stuff the homo sapiens species holds to high esteem. Its wholesome nature is what makes it so hard to argue with. Whatever one’s creed or disposition, when all is said and done, it boils down to ‘the things that unite us, not the things that divide us.’ It sums up to ‘the things we share, not our differences.’
So your average Joe makes his way through the ages espousing a number of creeds, promoting humanity through the aggregate of his actions which, when combined with the aggregate of other Joe actions, create the human composition.
Add to the image all the average Janes of the world and the picture is complete.
Joe and Jane, the world’s main characters and custodians.
Of course with so many main characters and custodians averaging out on stage, something is bound to go amiss. The fate of the world starts to depend on those who look to others for cues with no sense of direction or motivation. Everyone is content to see loads of people doing things they can identify with, feeling good about their choices, settled and grand. Social proof becomes strength in numbers, strength in mass, and strength in numbers and mass becomes further social proof that this is right, whatever they’re doing.
Sanctioned by the power of self-fulfilling prophecies and statistics, the Joes and Janes of the world stretch out their arms and join each other in a massive dance. They shake to the tunes of a giant piper, following the melody of the times, happy to engage in a rhythm that affirms their choices. Validated and content, they gradually turn the dance into a culture, if not a pervasive way of thinking, creating a tradition for others to belong or aspire to.
And the pipe dream begins.
The problem with this arrangement is that strength in numbers isn’t necessarily strength. Surrounded by those who do and say as you do, who worry about the same things you do, who are defined by the same issues that shape your life, you inevitably lose sight of the bigger picture. You’re lost in suspended animation, pursuing the issues you deem positive. You confirm your biases via the words and actions of those you agree with, confirming them even further via the reactions of those you disagree with, waging your life on these goals, whatever they may be. You’re all in it together. One great bundle of movers and shakers following the piper down the pipe dreams he’s tirelessly laying out for you, reinforcing them with every breath you take.
All these dreams will at some point be called out for what they are: empty shells. Vision husks. Ideas corrupted and hollowed out, sucked dry, torn apart, ready to collapse like a house of cards. They may go up in smoke, or lose their appeal and gradually fade away like the beats of a pop song that is all the rage in this decade and on special offer in the next, before becoming a footnote in some obscure book or catalog, if they’re lucky.
If they’re not, they fade into ignominy, for all practical purposes never having existed, like most people of the world, like the average Joes and Janes of the world who settled for a beat too predictable to remain relevant in the long term.
My name is EON, child of Time. Father has a way of arranging life exactly like a music collection. I grew up watching Him assembling this world from scratch, listening to the sounds of civilizations rising up from ignominy and declaring themselves present. I heard them stretch their voices and play their tunes with pride, carrying the rest of the world on their beats. I saw the rise and fall of rhythms that defined entire generations and cultures, their cadence engraved in every step taken, in the lofty speeches of the day, in the design of their dwellings, in every book and song that seized the imagination of those eager enough to move and shake to its call, setting the pace for the generations to come.
Some of these beats and rhythms were imaginative and inspirational, lasting an era or two. Others not so much, not even close, most of them fading as ingloriously as they started. They all shared one thing in common — and that’s the great irony: they were defined by what united them, their inevitable mortality.
Nothing lasts, says Time, and rightly so, but some things last more than others. In that sense, and having witnessed the uproarious development of this world, from the heaving and churning of the mountains to the calving of the icebergs and the disassembled atom, I can say with some assurance that a number of humanity’s pipe dreams fared well, all things considering. They created a legacy that came to define not just cultures or nations, not a range of generations, but an entire species. An entire planet.
Still, for all their transient glory, humanity’s achievements remain just that: transient; nothing more than whispers in the winds of time, speaking of an age when for a brief moment somebody considered his idea a loftier and more appealing alternative to the rest of them, and others believed him and joined him, and sang together in praise of their unity and carved their way across the stretch of space they occupied, letting others know they deemed themselves the end of history.
There is no end of history. History ends only when Time ends, and Time never ends. Father lives on, extends, carrying intelligence with Him, letting it reinvent itself in ways that sometimes come effortlessly, like the beat of a tune in the back of one’s mind. Other times He is very demanding, He involves the fertile sounds of chaos and deracination, upheaval and turmoil, all of which come together to create another great composition: the symphony of pandemonium.
Joe and Jane do not approve. They prefer the predictable harmonies of humanity to the circus of pandemonium. But Time will change their outlook. A different tune is being conjured as we speak, a sound that will take everyone by storm, like Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring, a spring riot, only much larger, more instrumental. Call it a sound fit for the next generation of life. Not for the next generation of homo sapiens.
For the next generation of life.
Intrigued? Watch this space for more.
From the collection of writings EON: THE ANGRY COMING OF AGE