Sunday, January 4, 2009

Happy New Year!

Once upon a time there was a New Year. Now we bloody have it once a year. So, what's new?

Resolutions, hope, joy, cheer, drunken delirium, relief, and this time, by golly - anger! Anger about how lousy 2008 was! Well, well... are we becoming honest about things like this? Now come on, it is just another date on the calendar, surely. But there is an energy of consciousness, of our eagerness to forget all that is bad, and somehow sum it into that year called 2008.

Everything went wrong for sure, but it isn't as if all the seeds that caused the misery of the year gone by were sown in the same year. It isn't as if Wall Street crashed because of some numerological error. It was a gargantuan error of numbers that a lot of people bought into. But for sheer fear of feeling even smaller than we should feel, we haven't called ourselves really stupid, just yet. The worst part is - It isn't as if the ringing in of the New Year will make us, the human collective, smarter overnight.

But... let's keep hope, for when we're broke, that is all we have. But then, that is the popular belief being propagated with the hope, once again, of keeping us all shackled to our stupidity. The smart ones have moved on, and they never really bought into the mockery of trends. The trend of the IT industry booming, the trend of the stock markets soaring, and the trend of making money without creating any real value to anyone that the Americans thought would last forever!

The smart ones know to stay under the radar, collecting their chips quietly and efficiently, and simply keeping note of how much stupidity can infest the rest. They are not going to come out and offer advice on how to avoid this the next time. This is natural selection, and there is nothing to suggest 2009 will be an unnatural selection that will pardon stupidity.

Don't believe the myth of the connected world. It isn't a myth anymore. It is a horrible reality that has plenty of promise but the seduction is greater than the reward. I see no reason for our farmers suffering low costs of their produce just because people in some other country started eating less beef. There is no mystery waiting to be unlocked in an inextricably connected world, where a forest fire in California can affect your bank's lending rate to build your house in Chennai.

See, there is something romantic about things like "One World", "The Human Collective" and so on, but we love to hear things like that. It makes us feel coccooned in our lazy existence, and relatively safe. That is the feeling we cannot keep when we have incidents like the Mumbai massacre. That annoys us more than the act of being attacked. That is why we slip into comfort zone with the passage of time. The truly aware amongst us would never let the anger drop, until revenge is complete.

We're in competition, all the time. Not with a lousy non-state country like Pakistan, but with the rest of the developed world. Truth is, we'd be lousy without competition from our own kind, and intense competition from other countries. If there is any practical value in having a connected world, it is for the people who need a bigger market to sell their stuff to. It is all about selling. It is all about being able to buy more by selling more.

We can either evolve beyond this idea completely, and support a vision for the whole of humanity to live together in harmony, but that is not in our nature! It is in our nature to prove who is bigger, better, faster, richer! That is why we see a connected world as an opportunity, no matter what price we pay.

We haven't yet paid the full price for our actions of the past few years. Lack of imagination is a criminal shortcoming. Lack of intellect is a doomsday scenario. Lack of knowledge and insight shall not be pardoned. People who ran towards "careers" that seemed like guaranteeing great lives are standing shortchanged and a little mystified.

The noose has been around our necks for a long time, and some of us weren't smart enough to escape when it was still loose. Now, it is tightening and tightening rapidly. It isn't as if some promises were broken! The promise was never there, and many were too stupid to see it. They loved the illusion and the ringing in of the New Year as the harbinger of something new, is the newest of them all. Happy New Year!

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