There was a really interesting program on the television recently that I saw advertised in the TV guide. I don’t often watch TV. I try and pick out and circle programs I do want to watch out of interest just so I don’t sit there all day. It’s easily done once those cathode rays start luring you in to its seductive charms of inducing apathy! Anyway, the BBC did a few programs on the subject of mental health and how living in today’s high-tech society seems to be affecting people’s levels of patience and tolerance to what it was in the past. For instance, road-rage in the UK is now generally accepted as being part of everyday culture on the UKs roads. Becoming annoyed, aggravated, losing your temper and chasing after the person who has aggrieved you to cut them up in reply, break their car windows or physically assault them has seeped into most motorists consciousness as being part and parcel of the every day dangers facing the motorist as they drive along our congested roads and motorways. This type of behavior has lead to some people being too afraid to gesture or indicate when someone really HAS cut them up and near enough killed them. You just never know. And I guess that’s the scary bit about it all really, you never know.
But why have we succumbed to this type of behavior? Why do we feel the need to scare and intimidate people? Why do people seem to have less tolerance than seemingly before? Do we have less tolerance than we did before? One of the theories presented was that as people we have lost control over our lives. Technology now has such a grasp over us that we can no longer independently function without its aid. When you actually analyze this you come to realize just HOW much we rely on technology and its time-saving devices to help us lead our ‘normal’ daily routines, we have become reliant upon speed and the efficiency of the devices we use to achieve the things we desire. From distilling money from cash machines; doors that open automatically, nuking our food in microwaves, sending e-mails, these are just a few examples of how technology has quickened the pace of our lives. We expect things to happen NOW! NOW Godammit!!!
Yet not very often do we step back and question whether all these technological ‘advances’ are really doing us any favors in the long run. We’re too busy living now and we’re too busy to think about it!! It only generally occurs to us what a rat race we live in when we take time out going on vacation or going out camping away from all the gadgetry that invades our lives and makes us reliable on its uses whether we want half of it or not.
Here in Britain when we were going through the fuel crisis in Autumn last year, within ONE week, all our supermarkets were selling out of food, petrol stations out of petrol, literally, everything was grinding to a halt. It was an anarchists dream! Chaos! Yet it was organized chaos. The fuel blockades that blocked the ‘lungs’ of Britain and made it impossible for fuel to be transported from one part of the country to another was made impossible by the truck drivers and farmers who had organized and got off their arse to do something. The Labour government was THAT close to calling in the Army. But what could they do? Shoot people for blocking the road? Since that amazing time took place, the government has since made precautionary measures so that sort of protest can never happen again. The army is now on stand-by whenever the likelihood of protests over the price are fuel are in the news. But this tale is more about the point I was trying to make above. Britain was gridlocked. Nothing could move. People were acting so selfishly and greedily that the only way they thought they could survive was to buy as much bread, meat, vegetables, tinned food that they could fit into their cupboards, freezers, you name it. The daily news broadcasted that Britain was harking back to the good old war years where people were once again discovering they had a neighbor, that they needed the support of their community because they didn’t have the fuel to drive to the out of town supermarket that sold everything and had wiped out all other business in the community of old. People began to question what had happened to the old baker, the local butcher, the local shops and communities that used to be part of most towns and villages in the UK. The speed of time, agriculture, corporations controlling our food habits, the LOSS OF CONTROL over our everyday normal lives was becoming evident and people were questioning how had we come into these circumstances. It was scary to feel how unprepared I was at facing up to a time when I wasn’t in control of my own life, how reliant I have become on outside agencies to provide my daily needs of survival and how we as a people have, or are losing, the skills to provide our own food, our own skills in other areas. How reliant we have become on just a few major supermarkets to feed us with all our basic necessities.
We are allowing and not questioning what technology and progress can offer us. We remain silent to the powers that be eroding our skills and ability to survive. We have become sedate. Now in Britain, we are under another attack. This time with foot-and-mouth disease. Animal carcasses are being piled into pyres to be burnt to prevent the disease spreading and yet it is still continuing to infect more and more farms each day. Even un-infected animals are now being slaughtered so that they do get the disease!!! But is foot-and-moth spreading because we want things now! Even our meat (for those who do eat it!). For so long farmers have been encouraged by government and been too greedy themselves that they have embarked on short cut methods to feed their animals such as cows the swill and remains of other dead animals rather that on diets that they are naturally suited to. We tacitly support the live transport of animals around the country and across continents before they are slaughtered. We import animals from all around the world. We want that veal NOW! We want that steak NOW! We want that new leather garment NOW! Nothing can wait. Credit? No problem. Sign right here. We are moving so quickly in time that we are on a fast course for even more disasters in this world. Bush and his re-invented Reagan Star Wars program scares the shit out of me. How far do we go? How far are YOU prepared to go before you either sit back and allow atrocities in your own back yard to happen or get out there and work to provide an environment and lifestyle that is healthier for us all? It’s no good just being negative. We have to work and build on and believe in the positives. In permaculture, in working together, in transforming this DIY culture of records and zines into a DIY culture of grass roots activism. Sure the world can appear shit but it doesn’t mean you have to lie in it!!
If you want to write feel free. Communication is cool.
Write to: Steve Attitude Problem Zine, c/o A Network of Friends