Don't Blame The Media

 

I was working on a stream of consciousness writing exercise for the script I'm writing this morning and I ended up writing something I kind of like in the voice of one of my characters. It's a meditation on how to retain a positive outlook and sense of happiness during times when it feels like we're going down the wrong path. Again, I was writing in someone else's voice, so if it sounds pretentious don't blame me. I'm just a vessel, dude.

 

“It’s this constant low level of anxiety that gets to you. People are actually very capable of dealing with dangerous and life-threatening situations. We’re actually happier in war time because there’s a sense of community and everyday tasks take on a new meaning that is missing in peacetime. It’s not war, or famine, or any struggle that is really getting to us, it’s the constant threat of it. Like something bad is right around the corner, and we should be trying to defend ourselves against it, but it’s impossible because we don’t know what it is. It’s just this nebulous unnamed terror, we don’t know why we are supposed to be afraid, or even in what way we are supposed to be afraid, we simply know that we are supposed to be afraid. A lot of people say that it’s the media that is trying to keep us afraid because it sells papers, or whatever the equivalent of a paper is these days, but that would imply the media is intentionally trying to keep us in a state of fear and anxiety, whereas that’s putting the horse before the cart, humanity is much more self-organizing than we like to believe. There are no puppet masters in the grand sense. Of course there’s policymakers and people making decisions behind closed doors that have a huge impact on the world, but really the whole ship is on autopilot for the most part. We’re not being kept in a state of anxiety and fear because it makes us easier to control, like a lot of people suggest. We keep ourselves in anxiety and fear because it’s how we’ve survived for this long as a species. All the carefree apes got eaten by sabretooth tigers on the Savannah a long time ago. We are the result of the ones who constantly had their eye on the horizon carefully surveying their surroundings for predators. But it was a binary system. No predators, relax, predators, run. But now there are no predators in the traditional sense. Sure, there is the chance you might get attacked by a criminal, which in some places of the world is a much larger threat than other places, but for the most part our new predators are invisible; debt, the threat of disease, the possibility of nuclear war. But these problems aren’t concrete nor real in the sense of the physical world so they can never be vanquished. They just hover on your periphery, like a minor toothache so faint that it might just be all in your head. Even if you go to extremes to prepare yourself for the absolute worst case scenario; build a bomb-shelter, get the most comprehensive health insurance you can, dedicate your life to the pursuit of wealth and always having enough money, there’s still the possibility that at any moment it could all go sideways. And this is what we live with. People around the world are scared, and they are looking to find the source of their fear. They are unhappy with the way things are and so they are blaming their rulers for their unhappiness. You only have to look at basically any revolution to see how it turns out when the masses decide to overthrow their rulers. There’s a brief sense of victory and the sating of bloodlust, either real or metaphoric, but that is always temporary, and usually things end up much worse than when they started as the victors come to realize that the vanquished, while far from being perfect, did have reasons and a methodology for doing things as they had always been done. The status quo gets a bad rap. Change as almost a physical law of the universe has a 50/50 chance every time of being either bad or good, or rather leading to creation or destruction to put it in less moralistic terms. It can be tempting to look out the window and throw your hands up and declare all is lost. But our salvation can be found in the knowledge that history is really the story of the fall of empires just as much as it is their construction. Every generation likes to think they’re the last, and it is usually easy to mount a convincing case for why this really is the case this time, but time simply marches on. The real mark of a warrior’s spirit is not to rush headfirst into whatever battle, real or imaginary, that the world around them is saying needs to be fought. It is to retain a sense of humour and lightheartedness when the world around them seems to be descending into chaos and destruction for they know this state of the world has always been so in some aspect or another. A calm head in calm times is no feat, a calm head and open, loving heart in the midst of a world that appears to be falling apart, that is what is remarkable.”