Civilization “Little boxes on the hillside … little boxes made of ticky tacky … little boxes on the hillside and they all look just the same. There are green ones and …” (from the song Little Boxes by Malvina Reynolds)
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Obsolescence, the meaning – the state of being which occurs when an object, service, or practice is no longer wanted even though it may be in good working order. (So we throw away just about everything for the new improved, better than, bigger than, and so on.)
Complacency, the meaning – going along with the status quo. Being satisfied with how things are and not wanting to try to make them better.
We do that, you know, most of us go along with the status quo in our society, a sort of false complacency about things, that is until we feel personally affected. We may make noises and be upset but usually not enough to actually do something that will affect change.
And the true sadness here is that this false complacency (because we really aren’t contented with things at all) extends to the obsolescence not just with products or services but it has been expanded (at great expense to all of us) to now include people, animals, our environment and a way of life as throwaways.
This scary indifference where the end justifies the means is destroying some of the best of who we are as people. And part of that is the recognition of individual self worth and value. We don’t feel loved. Our greatest need as a result of the false complacency of obsolescence (or the prevailing mentality that it’s okay to keep throwing things away) has eroded many of the human connections necessary for us to feel good about ourselves.
Skilled craftsmen are a dying breed. Small farm owners are a dying breed. Not everyone wants or needs a college education, they want to pursue a skill or a talent they’ve been given. A love of something they want to do. There are almost no places to apprentice and most items are mass produced, where quality isn’t required (remember obsolescence?) whether it be in large local factories or the giant international agricultural, and other types of monster size businesses that exist today.
Many products are cheaply made, cheaply purchased and thrown away just as easily, for new ones. Plastic, a by-product of oil, is everywhere. Including our waste landfills and sadly, our oceans, in turn seriously affecting the survival of life.
And yet the real tragedy is we are becoming even needier and less fulfilled as we go along this mistaken path society has currently chosen. Because it’s the wrong one. The current popularity of dystopian books, films and games are just one sign of this.
In life our greatest need as human beings – in many cases, trumping even safety, shelter and to a degree food – is not being met. Without the fulfillment of this need, many of us are like a plant without nutrition that will wither and die.
(Part two, Our Greatest Need, and what we should do to solve it – in the next post!)