Forget being passionate about or enjoy living; we are “out of” passion “into” thrill, “out of” joy “into” fun and “out of” living “into” lifestyle. While we are free to have adopted being “into everything” as the “in” lifestyle however; we are not free to be “into” humanity, rationality and ethics today, only to be “out of” them tomorrow or the day after, as being human is not a fad. We may be free to be “out of” basics and “into” basic instincts, but we are not free to become out of touch with the meaning of our being. For when we stop drawing lines between life and lifestyle , basic and dispensable , relevant and irrelevant; we end up going to wars for such noble causes like birds values, fast cars , the size of bananas on our fruit plates and our divine right for privilege and power. And as such, we become a threat to life and lifestyle.
Sad as it is to have abandoned joy for fun; it is of course not a threat to humanity if instead of enjoying dancing or having a drink; we are “into” clubbing and bar hopping. Nor it is a threat to ethics or to morality if instead of having life long passion for the body or tradition of literature, music and art; we are “into” Steinbeck “out of” Dostoyevsky, “into” Bach “out of” Tchaikovsky, “into” Picasso “out of” whoeverski. It is as well not a threat to rationality or to human language if instead of having a love for traveling and discovering; we are “into” traveling and we “do” cities and museums. Never mind how exactly one “does” a city or a museum; the general feeling is one of having “done” London, we must “do” Paris and having “done” the British Museum, we must “do” the Louvre. Must we?
Yes, if we are “into” the “being into everything” lifestyle, whereby, our value and worthiness is measured by the number of things we are “into”. Whereby, circular being the “in” shape of the Century, anybody who is anybody must be a “well rounded” person, with a “well rounded” view of the world, surrounded by the right circle of “well rounded” people, and ultimately revolving around one’s self. For we begin to orbit within our own sphere of lack of knowledge and our education ends where it starts, when the bottom line of that education or approach to life is; we are the best, the greatest and coolest. We do not need to learn about others or from others. They must learn from us. Must they?
Being “into everything” only to be “out of” whatever we are “into” soon after; we give a transient value to everything and end up into nothing much of value. What we end up with much of, are endless “must have” and “must do” lists of things that if we get or get done, it would be great and possibly enriching. But if we do not get or get done, we and humanity will still survive. Like many people happily survive without having ever “done” London, and like many people survived and flourished in the past before the Louvre ever existed. Like millions survive and flourish without Gucci bags and like as many who lived happily before cars were ever invented. Fulfilled or unfulfilled, important or trivial, basic or dispensable; “must have” and “must do” lists are not a threat to humanity.
It is when we equate in value the right to live in freedom and dignity with the privilege of having a choice of 100 hundred coffee flavours and the same number of ice-cream flavours, on any given morning, at the price of slaving others to have that privilege that our lifestyle becomes a threat to humanity. For privileges are not rights, let alone, divine rights, like the right of every human being to live in freedom and dignity. While we must never have to apologize for privileges that we are either born into or that come with the lifestyle; we are not free to go to endless wars to defend those privileges, that lifestyle and those values, and ruin other people’s lives, livelihoods, lifestyles and values. Our failure to see the huge difference between justice and jealousy is equaled by our failure to see the huge difference between rights and privileges or between life and lifestyle.
Having equated life with lifestyle; we have trivialized, rendered meaningless and reduced everything in value, including our own value. Gone are the days when there would be a Shakespeare or an Einstein every hundred years or so. With the age of the experts on everything, and never mind the contradiction in terms; if you mere buy books these days, you are educated. If you go as far as reading them, you are an intellectual. If you write a book or “outsource” the creative part, and manage not to say anything of any use or value and sell a million copies; you are “brainy”. For you would have enlightened a million readers that whenever confronted with breakfast; it is healthier to have milk and cereal than a double hamburger with double milkshakes. While if you have integrity, you make sense and you write about something as useful as peoples’ allergies to history and their aversions to “others”, then you must be crazy and your readers are crazier.
We live in times where it has become acceptable upon being asked, why is the sky so high to answer, “Because.” as full sentence and as reason in itself. Then carry on with endless discussions based on “because.” and without having ever answered, why is the sky so high? Having not dealt with simple questions or not taken responsibility for our answers or no answers; we can neither raise questions nor deal with questions like; why are we in denial? Why is it easier to hate or is it? Or, for this matter, why has it become acceptable to answer “because.”?
We live in times where whole conversations are based on the assumption that “you know” what is meant by “you know”, without anybody ever saying what it is exactly that all seem to know and nobody is saying. Between those who assume “you know” and those who claim to know “all there is to know”, we live on an assumption of knowledge. We have developed an attitude towards further or deeper knowledge that is beyond immodest. For when we know “all there is to know”, there is no need for further knowledge, while if we acknowledge that knowledge is limitless and endless, we are humbled because of how much we are yet to learn.
We live in times where we have disconnected meanings from words and disconnected ourselves from the meaning of our being in the process. Intentionally or unintentionally, we are on a track a step ahead of Holaco. For while Holaco destroyed books and libraries; we are after concepts and values. We almost live by a formula whereby anything that rhymes, alliterates or is opposite; has become equal in meaning and value. We are out of idealism into idols, out of reality into reality shows, out of history into breaking news, out of credibility into credentials, out of reasons into pretexts, out of compassion into complicity, out of rationality into rationalizations, out of justice into justifications, out of facts into the fictitious, out of irony into farce, out of “Cinema Paradiso” into box office, out of dreams into nightmares. We are out of this world. But most important, we are “out of” being human “into” being “well rounded” and “out of” being ethical “into” being “cultured and civilized”.
Being “well rounded”, “cultured” and “civilized” is as good or as bad as being linear or rectangular. It does not mean having an in depth knowledge of the world. It does not exclude being racist. It does not equal being human, rational and ethical. That is, great as it is to be “well rounded” “cultured” and “civilized”, but only as long as it is not used as a polished faÃ§ade for being inhuman or barbaric. Mafia god fathers are usually “well rounded” and cultured people, who love to watch the opera with the knowledge that with every other musical note, somebody is being slaughtered upon their godly request. We learn from history that empire builders, tyrants and dictators belonged to great cultures and civilizations. We learn as well that ever since before Roman times, culture and civilization never prevented slavery, wars and genocides.
According to my understanding of what Noam Chomsky has been saying the last several decades; being human and ethical is the only thing that prevents us from any evil doing on any level. It is the only thing that distinguishes us from other species and is the only thing that gives meaning to our being. The stronger our notion of what is right and what is wrong, what is just and what is unjust, the more human. In other words, given similar geographic, historical, cultural, social, political, economic environment, what is it that makes it easier for some of us to hate, be racists, be inhuman, and makes it very difficult if not impossible for others?
Being human is not the “in thing” it is the thing. “Out of” living and “into” lifestyle we have become out of touch with the meaning of our being. Unless if we want to be part of the threat to human existence, we are not free to give a transient value and render meaningless things that existed well before we were “into” them and will continue to exist well after we are “out of” them. We are free in our approach to literature, music and art; we are not free to destroy the human language, the harmony, the rhythm and the balance in nature that preceded them in existence. We are free to be whoever we want to be; we are not free to be other than human. We are free in our approach to life; we are not free to destroy life.
To dispense with “others”, or with history, is as good and as modest as saying; there is nothing history can teach us, history must learn from us. Only technically, rationally and logically; history cannot learn from us even if it wanted to. Much as Holaco and ilk would be thrilled to learn that human aggression has developed to such a degree, whereby, the whole world can be annihilated with a press of a button; there is nothing they can learn from us at this point in time. We, on the other hand, cannot but draw good or bad lessons from the history of human aggression if we want to continue to survive. Surely, we can live happily without having ever heard of Holaco. But when we decide to emulate him, or be complicit with those who try to emulate him, by waging endless wars on peoples and countries like Palestine, Afghanistan and Iraq; with a promise of more peoples and countries to destroy; we should at least have heard of Holaco, met him, known him through and through, and then decide if we want to be part of the legacy of human aggression and destruction, or part of the reason why humanity continues to exist despite Holacos.