Cannibalization In Maturity
By N Oji Mzilikazi
(Originally published in Montreal Community Contact Volume 21, Number 12)
June 10, 2011
The sage Lao Tzu declared, “When things reach maturity, they decay of themselves. Thus a fruit ripen on a vine or tree will fall, ostensibly to die. History proves Lao Tzu’s observation to be true. Civilization, empires and societies attained a level of greatness, and poof! In one fell swoop or agonizing crawl they were no more; consigned to the dustbins of olden times and workplace for archaeologist.
The biblical Tower of Babel tells of man, clearly in a technological or advanced state building a structure to reach God. For such impertinence, God confounds man. Lost was the commonality of language and singleness of purpose. Individualism took root, and the selfishness and self-centeredness associated with that state resulted in everyone speaking a different language, leaving the ambitious project incomplete.
That biblical tale encapsulates the devolution that takes place upon reaching the pinnacle of evolution- the cannibalization that occurs in maturity. A dance that continues to be played out in a multitude of ways, and which oftentimes escapes our observation.
Consider a person coming from nothing, and who though hard work, perseverance or luck was able to build something of worth. Decades later, inheritors who never knew a day of hard work or the meaning of privations are in charge. Ignorant or uncaring about the sacrifices it took to establish their inheritance, their attitudes and values wrecks and destroys what their forbearers clawed, struggled and fought for to build and defend.
Better yet, consider the many in our community who came here as immigrants or whose parents and or family members pooled their meagre resources, took bank loans, borrowed from friends to send them abroad to study or for a better life.
Years later, they are established and or enjoying relatively comfortable living. Caught up in life’s ease, either they or their children failed to transmit their knowledge and values that got them to where they are. The end result is their children or grandchildren being handicapped, underperforming and underachieving, and having no concept of honour, loyalty, fealty, duty to family and community.
I once read that to indulge in a life of pleasure/debauchery, and to avoid serving in the army, the sons of Roman nobles would have their right thumbs amputated. The inability to hold a sword or use the bow and arrow meant in the face of barbarians, they couldn’t contribute to any defence whatsoever. They were thus liability and subject to be easy casualties.
Technology has made life and living so much easier that ease could be equated to being a deadly disease, and our “advanced” society casualties.
Cooking as in preparing food from scratch is increasing becoming a dying skill. We eat frozen, out of a box, in restaurants and at fast food joints; their commercially and chemically laced food changing our metabolism, damaging and destabilising our bodies. Then there is wonderment about the huge increase in obesity rates. To obfuscate, scientists indebted to Big Pharma and the food industry points to the existence of a “fat gene.”
To display cultural sophistication, many who grew up with knowledge of “bush”/aryurvedic medicine traded it in for scientific remedies. Yet, with 100 different things on pharmacy shelves for the common cold they complain about their inefficacy. They are quick to recount how back home they could’ve used this herb or that concoction and in no time the cold was gone, or they would make a poultice for this or that. Meanwhile, they aren’t interested in passing their knowledge down.
For all the pleasure derived from watching television, playing video games on mobile devices and the like, the boon of the Internet, computer technology and social media, we have become more sedentary and socially inept. The engaging nature of the technology has us sitting in a chair for hours and with a huge “do not disturb” body language sign. The lack of activity and simple exercise like walking facilitates poor health and obesity.
While the facelessness of the web affords talkativeness with anyone in any part of the world, lost is the ease of face to face or group interaction, as well as participation in same. We can now work at home, study at home, form friendships online, meet, date and marry someone from an online encounter, even be murdered through it.
Corporate greed in exploiting natural resources and dismissive attitudes to environmental economics have brought us to the brink of a far-reaching ecological crisis. We now have threats to biodiversity, species on the verge of being extinct, and bodies of water we cannot drink, fish in or swim. With overpopulation overtaxing land, marine resources and electricity, the threat of serious food shortages and power outages hang like the Sword of Damocles.
Chemicals, pathogens and contaminants in the food supply have resulted in hormone disrupting toxins in our bodies, the birth of new illnesses and diseases. Even as genetic research shows so much promise, solution, cures, and the only thing left to clone are humans, global warming and ice caps melting portends new dangers. Throw in the ongoing threat of terrorism and war, and mankind is on the verge of reset.