(like Pogs, or the Spice Girls)
Yesterday, this very blog was viewed twice by people in Kenya, and once by people in the Philippines. What, what, Kenyans?
This is especially surprising, given that only 24,300 people speak the national language of English in Kenya, compared with 70,000 who speak Gichuka in the Eastern Province alone, and the mere 20,000 that speak it in the Philippines, much less than the 25 million that speak Filipino.
Of course, I welcome any and all viewers of these barely-recognisable digitised mud scrawlings that have the artistic flair of a sock being flushed down a toilet and the intellectual depth of a tadpole being sucked into a motorboat’s propellor, so I welcome assorted folks from around the globe to help stretch out my little blue ‘viewer’ bars each day!
But the ease with which my writings can be seen all around the world is a great example of the inter-connectivity of the world we live in, a change which I think is an overwhelmingly good one, because it allows for the fundamental spread of ideas.
I don’t want to get into debates about what is the correct moral thing to do, or how we can interpret different events of history, or how we should prioritise the needs of the many against the needs of the powerful, because these are all subjective, personal responses to events, that could be motivated by a whole host of factors: prejudice, economic constraints, personal security, genuine compassion or whatever else.
I don’t care, to an extent, what the outcomes of these decisions are, as long as these decisions are made collectively and collaboratively in our society; it’s like having a debate with someone over an issue – their opinion of the issue may be the total opposite to yours, but each side needs to treat the other with respect, allowing the to talk, and so forth.
The need to discuss and communicate isn’t so that everyone gets a fair say, because everyone won’t, by the very nature of society with it’s power hierarchies – some will inevitable be given more power than others. No, the need to talk is important because it allows for self-improvement.
Ultimately, we’re alone as a species, as far as we know. Although if your life gets a bit tough, you can go home to your parents or lover or whoever else for support and comfort; humanity, however, has no parent. We have nowhere to turn if we need help, and no criteria to judge our effectiveness as a species against, other than ourselves. As a result, any improvement in our culture and civilisation must come from within this civilisation.
And we can do wonderful things with ourselves when we want to: in the wake of Nelson Mandela’s death, it reminded me that we did get rid of most racial discrimination in the world, or at least reduce its influence from workplace policy to opinion of the nutcases of the world; we got rid of disease by rebuilding our means of treating infections; we launched people to other celestial bodies after countless failed tests and launch-pad explosions; and we invented the hot-dog stuffed-crust pizza.
There will always be problems with our society; it’s human nature to want the best for ourselves and the best for those we care about, if at the expense of others if necessary. But if we keep talking, these differences of opinion will become just that, minor differences that affect the ways Dostoyevsky is interpreted in hipster cafes, and not differences that undermine the very nature of our society. In the US right now, and in the UK earlier this year, there are debates about Gay Marriage and it’s legitimacy; I reckon that one day, we’ll be in a society where we’ve got differing opinions, but that these opinions would transcend to discriminatory laws, or criminally unfair economic situations: there are still differences between people of different ethnicities, but we’ll get out of the days where these differences are criminal.
Also, because that post was uncharacteristically optimistic, I thought I’d finish with this cheery prophecy about our species’ impending doom, told almost entirely through the media of Photoshop, capital letters and neon colours!