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A World of TrEUble | Convoluted

(First published on Urban Times on 04th Jun 2012)

This Article is a continuation from A World of TrEUble: Contrived 

When people of everyday life see people of wealth and power, many of them have an impression of Prince John of England and his henchmen. (source: – from Robin Hood)

Previously, on A World of Treuble: Big Finance found ways to turn fallouts to opportunities. Then it got so carried away with the practice, it counted on these fallouts to make a quick buck, forgetting the merit in slow but steady investment. Quick boom led to radical bust that led to a volatile, destructive market, which led to a volatile, eroded society. Like despots presiding over their subjects, Big Players seemed to have lost the plot.

We mentioned Prince [King] John and his subjugated, suppressed, overtaxed subjects in Part 2. We did so to put things in perspective, to remind ourselves what it must feel like for people to be subject to the whims of someone who wields unlimited money and power, and where such a setup may lead. Capricious ruler, disgruntled people, national crisis, Magna Carta. Whether it be Greece or communities in the “fracking belt” of America, or people in the Amazon Rain Forest and in the deep provinces of China, there’s a case to be made for their land having been plundered by powers greater than them with little regard for human rights.

But a second argument follows from this analogy, and that is ignorance. The leaders may be acting like callous medieval despots, but the people involved are acting like medieval, ignorant, dated individuals. They’re not up to par, refusing to play the game as team players, setting themselves up to be exploited or abused. They refuse to adapt to the changing environment or embrace the knowledge that stares them in the face. Rooted in medieval superstition, if not ancient custom, their resistance to the powers that be has merit only when considering the harshness with which they’re dealt with. But when one looks at the reasons behind their lag, examining how they ended up there, one can’t help but acknowledge facts, calling things by their name: an undeniable inability on their part to adjust, adapt and evolve. Either that or massive unwillingness. Or a bit of both.

It’s a dangerous argument to make, and not very popular, and perhaps not fair to those involved. Not everyone in Greece or in the fracking belt deserves to be labeled ignorant or dated. Chinese provincials may be good, honest, simpleminded countryfolk rather than backward bumpkins. And the indigenous tribes of the Amazon are the sentinels of nature, not relics. People can’t be lumped together and stereotyped harshly, en masse, certainly not on account of how they fare in lieu of high technology, politics, and economics. It wouldn’t be fair.

But neither is to stereotype the Big Players. Not everyone who wields power and money is an evil jerk. Right?

When people of wealth and power see people of everyday life, many of them have a Joe Dirt impression of them (source: Joe Dirt)

See the conundrum? If people are not to be stereotyped en masse, neither must Big Money. Both sides deserve the benefit of doubt, and have to be judged on facts, not biases.

It Always Takes Two

Perhaps the point is to set aside the tit-for-tat part of the equation and look at things from a factual point of view. Attempt a quick, concise, straightforward analysis. Here goes …

There’s a process of global development going on, which, for better or worse, marks the way forward, into the future. Those who keep it in check with the aim to let it grow sustainably are doing everyone a service, adding their cautious two bits to the game.

Those who seek to destroy it, on the other hand, eager to return the earth to a state of rustic provincialism, are on the wrong side of the formula. We can’t take knowledge and sweep it under the rug, pretending it’s not there. The notion is romantic but misguided, if not dangerous. Even if these Luddites are right i.e. if we do perish by the hand of rampant development, their opinion is meaningless and uninspiring, nothing more than the words of people who sat in the corner and spoke of the earth being flat, and of the need to stay put, lest the sky falls on our heads, while the rest of us were taking to the seas, testing the waters, pushing the envelope, the boundaries, dying to perform miracles. Tangible, observable, replicable miracles that could be imitated and bested, our quest ever-forward making a difference to those around us.

An exception can be made for the Indigenous tribes of the world. They deserve credit for their intransigence regarding progress. There’s merit in their resistance. They chose to fight modernity and high technology from the onset, on account of their beliefs, and have historically done so in an informed and dedicated manner that upholds a different kind of universe, from top to bottom. They may have been led into temptation by the nastier parts of modern life, but their resistance is spirited and genuine, in my eyes, far nobler than that of any other “resistant” culture on earth, who at one point or another ended up embracing technology all the same.

An exception can be made for the Indigenous tribes of the world. They deserve credit for their intransigence regarding progress

All the same, the indigenous tribes of the world dwindle as we speak. Their voice is nothing but quaint interference in the stream of communication, neither heeded nor taken seriously, which ultimately spells trouble for us – yes, us! Like it or not, these ‘quaint’ figures hold the keys to the spirit of Geo-technology, which we’re only now starting to discover, and which we better mind as we apply our high-tech paradigm to the planet. Perhaps high technology will be intelligent enough not to disregard them much longer, heeding their warnings, embracing their knowledge and adjusting it to our own, before it’s gone forever.

Other cultures, on the other hand, more ‘advanced’ cultures, who’ve also ended up far behind in the global game, are not so admirable. Their resistance is not born out of an informed and dedicated wish to preserve the earth. It’s born out of micro-politics and expedience. They play the game on both sides, resisting the liabilities of the process while claiming all the benefits, their infrastructure and framework embedded in technology, their entire culture appreciative of it while their minds are dead set on thwarting it by doing things their way, in the name of cultural specificities that prevent them from adapting. Having perhaps given it a shot and discovered that they’re not much good at it, or just because they’re lousy team players, they throw spanner after spanner in the works, sabotaging the system and citing culture as their get-out-of-jail-free card.

Like the guy at school with the chip on his shoulder, who never showed up on time for the football game, and who always made a scene about being left out…

These people, whoever they may be, have made their choice. They must live with it, and so must we, finding ways to deal with it. Tutoring, peer pressure, disciplining, enticement, intervention, treatment, rehabilitation, education – all options are on the table, the aim clear: curb the damage, set things right, bring the miscreants back into the game, making responsible and reliable players out of them.

It would be easier if they didn’t refused to play in the first place, or cause problems on a whim, like the guy at school with the chip on his shoulder, who never showed up on time for the football game, and who always made a scene about getting left out, despite being late, and who, to top it off, didn’t respect the rules. He fouled others at will, and quit the game midway, and sat on the sidelines, heckling and jeering. Remember that guy? And the girl he used to date, the one who hated everyone, who never had friends, who always wanted things her way, no matter what?

Those are the personalities the world has to deal with when building up its game on the level of nations/organizations, and these are the worldviews behind some of the world’s biggest problems right now.

On the other hand, not all development is good development. Some of it is self-serving and opportunistic, short-sighted and short-sold, geared to make quick money without regard for the trail of damage it leaves behind. It simply wants to enjoy all the benefits of power and wealth without assuming the responsibilities that come with it. It wants to lead the way into the future for its own personal benefit, without regard for those under its influence. Its players play the game at both ends, too, throwing spanner after spanner in the works, citing the free market as their get-out-of-jail-free card.

The world’s problems can be boiled down to the clash of the jerks and the idiots. (source: A Fish Called Wanda)

These high-end saboteurs, like their mirror-image kindred, have also made their choice, and will have to live with it, and so will we, finding ways to deal with it. It would be easier if they weren’t such jerks from the get go, like the guy at school who thought he was the hot shot, running the show all the time, rubbing people the wrong way and bullying his way through the years, screwing everything up, spreading a blanket of fear all around him. Remember that guy? And his psychopath girl who urged him on, eager to see him taunt people, break a few skulls, and make enough noise for the spotlight to turn round and highlight how hot she was for being with that guy? Remember her? These are the personalities that guide much of the leadership’s behavior, and these are the people causing trouble again.

There you have it, ladies and gentlemen: the Jerk vs. the Idiot. As simple as that. Convoluted the world may be, but not beyond comprehension. Logic dictates that we stereotype nobody, but it doesn’t mean we can’t see them for what they are, identifying the behavior that drives them.

Fact of the matter is, not all Big Finance and its players are psychopathic jocks and skanks, but some of them are, and we better trace them out for everyone to see and recognize.

At the same time, not all Average Joes are self-indulgent losers, but some of them are, and we better trace them out for everyone to identify. Perhaps it will help us figure out how to deal with the problem, once and for all, or at least decisively enough to calm things down for a while.