World's not getting worseSun, 23rd Aug '09, 11:00 pm::
I came across this question posted online: "Every time I go out in public now, everything I see disgusts me. The fat, lazy, ignorant people... It makes me sound like an elitist, but I just can't help it nowadays. Anyone else feel like this sometimes?" This reminded me of the movie Taxi Driver where the mentally-disturbed lead character played by a young De Niro comments that "All the animals come out at night - whores, skunk pussies, buggers, queens, fairies, dopers, junkies, sick, venal. Someday a real rain will come and wash all this scum off the streets."
The way I see things, there is good, there is bad, and then there is the ability to see good in bad and bad in good. Not everything is as one-dimensional as we often make it out to be. The fat could be the next virtuoso, the lazy could be the next Nobel Laureate, and the ignorant could be the next lifesaving hero. When judging and stereotyping people becomes second nature, we must take a step back and try to remember what it felt like to be a child with a clean slate. Every new person was an experience, every new place was a vacation, and every new sight was an answer.
Pessimism and cynicism are not the sole tools available to our mind for making realistic expectations of the future. Optimism, surprise, and awe should be as much a part of our prediction engine as any other emotion. Limiting your mind to only use negative streams of thought in making expectations of the future is like thinking the stock market will constantly go down forever, regardless of what else is happening in the world. Thinking that people will always be fat, lazy, consumption-driven and are getting more so means you leave no room for any other positive expectations from them. Moreover, judging weight, laziness, ignorance, and consumerism to be solely negative traits takes away any good that might come out as a result of these traits. World isn't definitely black or white and neither are traits absolutely good or bad. Elitism itself has good and bad aspects. It encourages improvement and purity in pursuits while it limits explorations into fields previously deemed impure or lacking, though they might not be so.
I often run into people who tell me the world is going down the wrong path or times are changing for the worse. They haven't been around long enough to know it has always been like this and in fact, technology and knowledge are slowly improving things around the world. We are nowhere close to world peace but we have come a long way from the Dark Ages. Reading the news everyday does make one feel like the world is ending and things will never improve, but rest assured that in the grand scheme of things, all of this is arbitrary yet improving. All you can do is keep an open mind so that even when you tend to judge a book by its cover, you can appreciate a surprising twist every now and then.