"Lucy" needs to be punched in the face by Perspective Man
. She needs to travel to places far from her perceived reality, preferably to Latin America, South East Asia and perhaps even the Balkan states. In these places, the perceived "generation gap
" is merely a first-world concoction. From the Brazilian Favelas, South East Asian Kampungs and Balkan Grottos, every generation is focused on one thing and one thing only - survival
. Relativism to me, is very important when forming any sort of worldview involving what is perceived to self-worth as compared to what is required to satisfactorily fulfill that gap. This is quickly achieved when you travel outside to something completely foreign and alien.
The focus on our generation on material wealth is continuously accelerated by these gap-filling needs. This culture of excessive consumerism is what brought us to the GFC in 2008, and what has bankrupted Greece (soon to be Spain as well) in the Eurozone. We want a whole bunch of stuff, and we want something that will come tomorrow - today. Very few individuals appreciate just how much energy, sweat and effort it takes to deliver just one steak to a restaurant table. How much oil was consumed, how much feed was used and how much land was sacrificed - none of that matters, not because it isn't important to appreciate the logistics of the food industry, but because our generation just doesn't care. We're surrounded by countless stimuli that convinces us that if we have more stuff than someone else, if we have a greater propensity to consume - we will become special, relevant and remarkable. We do this without counting our blessings and an appreciation for the things we already have.
Yet when I visited a border Thai village earlier this year (you may remember this from my dinosaur story
) - I found myself having learned what it meant to live a life of simplicity, and that it's not all complete misery. Compared to my natural habitat of Kuala Lumpur, these villagers had nothing to match my hometown's attractions and distractions. They had vast paddy fields that were drying out because of an unexpected drought, the government gave them a huge ditch in the middle of town where they farmed their own fish (small and smelled bad), and everywhere you went you could smell chicken crap. The drought made the whole place dry and cracked - there were no roads, roads were dusty passages that resembled a dirt trail you'd get in a 16th century French estate. It was like I drove and found myself at the village at the end of the world.
My first thought was that this place was the biggest shithole ever. I still think that this is the case as I write this, so there's no anecdotal or proverbial lesson on that part. However, whilst the place was completely Godless and hopeless - the people could not be a further reflection from the horribleness. They were warm and friendly, with nearly nothing to their name - some of them had old cars, but most them rode around in cheap locally-assembled scooters. They were eager to share food - and mind you they were in the midst of a drought. I was offered, gluttonous rice, fish from the local communal ditch and their village-brewed alcohol. Mostly everything tasted like death, except for the rice - which I was told had to be bought from the closest town about a half hour drive away.
Their greatest worries were the drought, the heatwave (they didn't have air conditioning) and if they were going to have enough water for the water festival (Song Krahn). Overall though, they were content and quite energetic despite what I was seeing - a barren wasteland of dying crops. This wasn't a tourist trap with faux child beggars that you were guilted into donating, this was a bona fide village where the people lived from the land and whatever generosity their government afforded them - and when the land did not provide, they made do. They survived, and were proudly happy to do so.
It's safe to say that after that, I became more appreciative of what I had - instead of focusing doggedly on the things which I didn't. What the fuck did I know? I drove into a place that I'd probably have sent political prisoners to, once I became galactic ruler. Instead, what I saw were people who were indeed living like that every day - on the edge of drought and reclusiveness - and blissfully doing so. Thusly, I believe that "Lucy" needs to get the fuck out from her home and put some travel miles in. Go out there and see how some people live in this world, what "reality" is for some. If people from our generation came back from these travels with a greater appreciation and fondness for the people they have and the stuff they already possess, then we'd be a happier generation.