I do not want to talk about religion or politics or the general state of social terror that has consumed the entire would today. No, I wish to discuss human nature, both as we believe it to be, and what it actually is. Let’s start with a quote:
“Bullshit is all the reasons we give for living, and if we can’t think up any reasons of our own, we always have the God bullshit.
“We don’t know why we’re going through all this pointless pain, humiliation and decay, so there better be someone somewhere who does know. That’s the God bullshit.
“If you don’t like the God bullshit, how about the man bullshit? Man is a noble creature who can order his own world, so who needs God?
” Well, if there’s anybody out there who can look around this demented slaughterhouse of a world we live in and tell me man is a noble creature, that man is full of bullshit.”
That is from Paddy Chayefsky’s 1976 screenplay for Network and I cannot think of a harsher, truer statement about who we were then and who we are today. Man is bullshit. His ambitions are selfish, greedy and full of hate. Human nature, as we understand it, is acquisitive and violent. We are still basically gimme-gimme cavemen who refuse to look outside of our own individual self-interest and see that the world is immolating, is on the verge of implosion. We don’t even realize that the earth has had enough of us and that it wants us dead.
Why is it that we cannot understand the turmoil of the world and, instead of at the bare minimum sympathizing or feeling badly or thanking the lord (or whatever sort of ‘bullshit’ you see as a higher power) that you have escaped such a terrible fate?
Instead we blame the victims. “If that lazy idiot just decided to work, they wouldn’t be in the situation they are now!” we scream heartlessly, or laugh about as we condemn whichever part of the world we find anathema. But this is a very short-sighted response. We do not know what really brought this individual to this place. We can put all the responsibility of them, and no doubt there are occasions when this is just. But what about mental illness, what about an abusive family, what about traumatic brain injuries, or rape, or addiction, or helplessness, or fear, or the post-traumatic-stress-disorder suffered by soldiers and all the other victims? Or what about a terrible run of bad luck? Why do we not see that every case is separate and that there are many victims of, well, to use a silly academic term from first year sociology or high school liberal teachers’ lamenting the state of the world, why aren’t they victims of ‘man’s inhumanity to man?’
And there we are, making our own mistakes inside our presumably safe little homes, terrified of the world but feeling a little safer with our guns that we hope our children won’t find and shoot themselves with or go on a rampage against the bullies at school. We can sit there and drink or get high or pray to God or whatever addiction we as individuals may suffer from and consider ourselves better than everyone else in the world who are exactly the same as us. It really is ‘a slaughterhouse of a world.’ We watch the news and everything is so awful that we have to shut it out, pretend that it doesn’t exist, that it isn’t real and there is some hidden partisan agenda misreporting facts to make a case for a politicized way of life. And this terrifies us even more.
This actually started, this attitude, long before the rallying cry of, I don’t know, #fakenews or some other desperate way to get your ideas out to the public. When we still trusted the news and watched in horror we began to want to stop believing in the truth. And finally, a new, doubtful, conspiratorially-minded generation rose to take over the fate of the world–and I will acknowledge my own guilt by pointing out that this is my generation, a cabal of indifferent fucks who believe they can all change the world into their multifarious ways of seeing. So they started re-imagining the truth, creating a new, alternate reality that we exist in today. There is this hideous effort to separate the truth into different ideologies. There are somehow separate truths that we follow and abide by and we never consider the other side because we are comfortable with our own brand of lies and self-deception.
This is the world that we live in. And there is no point for me to cry and plead and beg for all of us to stop. After all, this site is called Recording Editorial History, and like all of my generation and all of the world before and the world to come, it is only my opinion. . .