Ever since time immemorial, people have been looking for ways to make life “easier.” Western Civilization has given rise to ideas such as “fast is better,” “quantity beats quality,” “less work equals more play,” etc. Unfortunately, we, as a society have become something of a Pandora’s Box. Sure, your dishwasher can wash dishes for you, but guess what, you still have to go to the gym to “make up” for the work the dishwasher did. Great that you drive a Mercedes SUV one mile to work; you’re going to have to run two miles at the gym afterwards! It’s nice that we can create gadgets that act as illusionary substitutes, but are these gadgets anything more than illusion? You’ve invented tractors to help you eliminate the need to do backbreaking work in the grain fields; only to do backbreaking work in the weight room at the YMCA! (For which you have to pay big bucks for.) How smart is that? Anyone capable of using their logical brains instead of their stupid iPhones? Or does an Apple (just a brainless fruit [cake], pun intended) have to think for you?
So, let’s rephrase the matter at hand: we eliminate house work and field work to make life easier, only to go pay someplace else (YMCA, Gold’s Gym, etc.) and do (replacement) work there? (Except, if anyone still knows anything about money and counting, you’re now paying to work!)
So, you basically eliminate field work on the grounds that it is too hard—but for which work you actually get paid—in order to go to Gold’s Gym and pay to work?? Who the heck came up with that? Western Civilization? A mathematician from Harvard? Or was it Napoleon Dynamite? (I think it was a combination of all three.) There must be a problem here.
If Western Civilization stresses the purpose of play and undermines the purpose of manual labor, why do we still have to work? If we spend our entire lives looking for ways to eliminate manual labor, why do we still have gyms, tracks, weight rooms, etc.? Has the elimination of manual labor just been an illusion? I think so. Very much so.
Back when my mom was alive and dinosaurs roamed the earth, people used to walk to school. Along came the American Car Revolution and people invented school busses. Now, all kids of all ages could be driven to school. What fun! No need to walk! Hurray! Wrong. Dead wrong.
In retrospect, what happened was fairly catastrophic. People became fat, lazy, suffered from hypercalcemia (due to elevated serum calcium levels from bone destruction related to no weight-bearing exercise), and died from knee fractures and femur fractures later in life, which were secondary to osteoporosis. Now, isn’t that a story that Hollywood is dying to tell?
All because of our desire to eliminate the need to work.
Why didn’t the smart scientists and pioneers tell us about the stupidity and hopelessness of our quest? You cannot eliminate walking from life, or you will die. And die you will. You have to use your muscles to keep them “alive”; you have to continue doing weight-bearing exercise in order to promote bone growth; you have to run and jump and swim and crawl in order to live.
Humans do not live to work; no, we work in order so that we may live. Apart from manual labor, life ceases to exist. Either you use your muscles, or lose your muscles. Either you walk 10 miles, or drive your car 10 miles (and lose bone density while at it). Either a male wakes up with a “morning wood” or he stops getting erections for good. You don’t use it, you lose it.
I love Western Civilization. It has done so much for me. It has made my left brain lobe deteriorate when it invented the calculator; it has made all of my leg muscles disappear when it invented the car; it has made me look like a hippopotamus when it served me (on a silver platter) McDonald’s; it has made me use all parts of my cerebrum way less when it handed me the infamous iPhone; and then it really helped me when it gave me Playboy (at least my hand muscles will never go bad!). Thank you, Western Civ. What more could I ask for? Oh, right, can you pass me the Bon Bons? (And don’t you dare switch the channel to anything other than Oprah.)
Wow. I am so grateful. I wish they would eliminate the need to use my brain. Oh, wait, they already have! (We do have a desktop computer available.)
I used to believe in friends and friendship, now I believe in Facebook. I used to believe in love, sex, and romance, now I believe in Playboy. I used to believe in writing romantic letters, now I believe in email; I used to remember to take long walks along the beach with my wife, now I only sit down and watch A Walk to Remember. (And even after watching it, I never remember to take a walk! God dang it!)
There are so many things that I could be doing that I am not. I could be writing, but I’d rather use my laptop and get carpal tunnel syndrome. I could be exercising, but I am using my Wii. (Oh, wait, didn’t the World Health Organization declare that Wii usage is equivalent to exercise?) I could be shredding the grass outside with my sickle, instead I’m shredding my bills with my shredder. And life continues… or so I think. What has Western Civilization done for you? Think real hard. (Or ask that thing in your pocket, yes, that cell phone, to think for you.)
The more I used my left and right cerebrum in critically thinking about this problem, I have discovered that most people will not read my paper. For a number of reasons. One, people in America and the “developed” world are quickly becoming illiterate (no surprise there). Two, most people who will read this article, will not understand its implications. (An iPhone has not yet been trained to think critically.) Three, most people need the use of multiple learning tactics in order for their brain to start firing neurons: we need visual, sensual, and auditory stimulation (which is why you have your Xbox and your TV set). Great. Now that we have made our brains so stupid that they require so many stimuli before ever firing a lousy neuron, how can I make this paper ever make sense to an average Western-raised human?? Ever? To do that, I would need to use video and audio to put any point across. Unfortunately, I can’t. Besides, they still won’t be able to read anything. They need me to use texting and sexting technique before these iPhone-raised teens can ever process anything. Which is sad.
The fortunate part is that I am willing to use cell phone text-language. The unfortunate part is that I am lying. I will not stoop down and turn beautiful English prose into horrible, mindless and highly-abbreviated text.
When my grandma was still alive—this was way before my mom (with the dinosaurs, remember?)— and when History 101 was still not being taught in college (since the idea of history has not yet arisen), my grandma would plant seeds in the ground. Now, seeds are little things that you plant in the ground (that brown stuff beneath your feet). These seeds grow into what our ancestors, according to Charlie Darwin, the orangutans, called “food.” Our ancestors, the orangutans, would plant seeds and harvest them. (This was long before McDonald’s existed as a natural food source.) These “happy monkeys,” as my grandma called them (she was a half-breed), would work their butts to a shampooing sweat in the fields. Ah, yes, those were the good old days.
My grandma told me that people-orangutans, back then, would plant gardens and use such primitive tools as the sickle, the hoe (no relation to Playboy), the shovel, and the spade (no relation to gambling). They would work and harvest food-crop. Of this crop, some would be used for food, some would be sold at the market for money (that green stuff Obama keeps having problems printing). These “happy monkeys” were truly happy; they worked all day, and played at night. And life was a success.
Along came Mr. West Ern Culture. He was a nice fellow with big dreams. He wanted to eliminate the need to work. He thought he had a solution.
He invented the tractor. Farmers goofed around with it when the banks loaned them enough money for one. When the Dust Bowl came around and the Great Depression hit, Uncle Sam wanted his green back: so he took the tractors. Oh well, that didn’t work. Oops.
Then he produced the microwave. Now people did not need to be called hunter-gatherer societies; why gather firewood when you have a microwave at home? (Forget the fact that electrified meat has protein structure turned to mush.)
When all the hunter-gatherers became bored with life—after you stop gathering firewood and hoeing down gardens you get bored fast—Mr. W. E. Culture had his most brilliant idea: a box. Why think inside the box when you can make a box and have people think outside it? So, he named the box TV (an acronym for “Total Vacation”).
What do you do with a bunch of hunter-gatherer orangutans? You send them on vacation! Where to? To their living room! And so the orangutans lived happily ever after. Not!
Fortunately, a few philosophers gathered behind the scenes and discussed total rebellion. In their opinion, “Total Vacation” needed to become TR (Total Rebellion). However, Mr. W. E. Culture did not like people interfering with his demise.
You see, those who were sent on “vacation” were not as intelligent as those who resisted being sent on vacation. Those “vacationized folk” were lazy couch potatoes who did not know the difference between the English and the Greek alphabet. Slowly but surely, they would quote lines from The Simpsons instead of from The Scriptures. (Wasn’t that the same thing? I think they both start with an “S”…)
The philosophers became convinced that the orangutans needed to change, or they would die out. The species needed to be saved from itself. However, the more the philosophers tried, the less things worked. The “happy monkeys” became bitter monkeys. They started having fights with one another about who got the “remote control” for the Total Vacation machine. They would chew each other out about things that were ridiculous. For example, one happy monkey sued another monkey for forgetting to change the channel to see Oprah when it was time. Another “monkey case” had Mr. Orangutan Solomono decide between who got the remote control: Mr. Orangutan Solomono decided that the remote be cut in half. On behalf of this “righteous action,” he was deemed King of Monkeyland for his perpetual wisdom. Such was the state that Monkeyland was in when my grandma was alive.
The days of monkey-mania have been declared over when Bill Gates came to power and invented Microsoft Windows. Everything changed. The monkeys grew up and started using their emails more efficiently. Or so we all thought.
Nothing has changed much. It is surprising that our children still know that apples grow on trees and not on Walmart. It is surprising that they know how to talk (after all, society has been training them to shut up and text). It is even more shocking that some of us still know what it is like to have sex and not have iSex do it for us. (Or am I wrong here too?)
We have, as a culture, come a long way. George Orwell prophesied cultural changes via comical and fictional messages. But his stories became reality. It’s about time that we have taken a cold shower and waken up. Either we change, or we die. It becomes no laughing matter when researchers begin investigating why some mothers spend more time on Facebook than with their children. It is no laughing matter when social communication skills must be taught in schools. (Few of us know how to text and still communicate.) It is no laughing matter when cultural slaves like us use gadgets that eliminate manual labor when we still have to go and pay some gym to go and “make up” for the loss of that very labor. Why eliminate manual labor in the first place when you are not really eliminating it at all?
It is sad to see the (ab)use of so-called “social networking” when it really is not social at all. In fact, social networking, texting, etc., brings those further from you closer, but those closer to you it brings further. In turn, tearing societal structure apart at the seams. Whatever our Western mind may think, we have not done much towards the improvement of mankind existence. We have come full circle. On top of all of our medicinal breakthroughs, our surgical breakthroughs, our electronic breakthroughs, our psychological breakthroughs and anything-else breakthroughs, we have still remained where we have so unfortunately began: people still work and people still die from stupid diseases and people are still not happy. With all of our intense knowledge, people still have to wake up at five in the morning and go to the gym to work out. (Keyword: work.) People still have to talk to someone personally—and not through letter or text—to connect on a more spiritual level. People still have problems. People’s lives aren’t any easier than they were two hundred years ago. People still have sore knees and arthritis (even though they don’t walk twenty miles to town). People still need to eat fruits and vegetables (what our ancestors, the orangutans, ate!) and not McDonald’s. People still will long for fulfilling sex and not for online pornography. People will still be human no matter what. We cannot escape that fact. We cannot run from our very selves. We must accept what God has given us. All of the blessings and all of the curses. And, no, we must not abandon God. We must still remain what we have been entitled to remain: humble representatives of God on an earth ruled by human pride. And what has our pride done for us? Has our medicinal knowledge decreased death rates? Oh, yeah, sure. Less people die from tuberculosis today than in the early 1900’s. Great. But now that has been replaced by cancer. And when we cure cancer, that will be replaced by something else. So long as the vaccines are changing, so long will the bacteria and the viruses mutate, adapt, and become immune. So long as humans continue to fight, so long will life continue to fight back (and bacteria, viruses, fungi are all forms of life). Should we stop fighting? Maybe not, but that is besides the point.
All of our knowledge of marital conflicts and our research on relationships has served us no worthwhile purpose: divorce rates are climbing through the roof—being only eclipsed by the fact that couples who are living together, and who break up, are not being statistically registered.
All of our struggle to avoid the field and farm work has led us to consume absolute trash sold at McDonald’s and Walmart. Trash that contains carcinogens, growth hormones, and a billion other harmful substances. All for what? You refuse to grow potatoes so that you can die from coronary heart disease while eating McDonald’s French fries? That was a smart move. (And you thought you were saving money until the doctor sent you the hospital bill…)
I wish that we could be more primitive today than we ever were. Nothing has changed. Nothing. When you look at the world holistically, we are still the same. We are still the monkeys getting Mr. Orangutan Solomono to split the remote control in half. We are still the same bags of crap that die after 80 awful years on a godforsaken earth. The means have changed. We have changed our methods drastically, but the ends have remained strikingly the same: unhappy person following unhappy person following unhappy person following Uncle Sam.
Maybe we have been following the wrong person? Or maybe we have simply been deceived into thinking that somehow we can escape this something. The end result has remained the same: people still die from infectious diseases, no less today than a thousand years ago; people still work until their very last breath. Vanity of vanities. All is vanity.
What has Western Civilization done for you?
Written years ago by: Moses Y. Mikheyev