Society. Despite a series of unfortunate events, I remain positive. Don’t prove me wrong. 🙂Our society is wonderful, Mark Twain says.
“Wonderful in material inflation, which it calls advancement, progress, and other pet names; wonderful in its vanquishment of [nature’s] stubborn laws; wonderful in its hunger for money, and in its indifference as to how it is acquired; wonderful in its exhibitions of poverty; wonderful in the surprises which it gets out of that great new birth, Organization, the latest and most potent creation and miracle-worker of the commercialized intellect, as applied in transportation systems, in manufactures, in systems of communication, in news-gathering, book-publishing, journalism; in protecting labor; in oppressing labor; in herding the national parties and keeping the sheep docile and usable; in closing the public service against brains and character; in electing purchasable legislatures, blatherskite Congresses, and city governments which rob the town and sell municipal protection to gamblers, thieves, prostitutes, and professional seducers for cash. It is a civilization which has destroyed the simplicity and repose of life; replaced its contentment, its poetry, its soft romance-dreams and visions with the money-fever, sordid ideals, vulgar ambitions, and the sleep which does not refresh; it has invented a thousand useless luxuries, and turned them into necessities; it has created a thousand vicious appetites and satisfies none of them; it has dethroned God and set up a shekel in His place.”
And it certainly seems like Twain couldn’t be more right, a quick glance at today’s headlines tells us. I’ll break his quote down.
“Wonderful in its hunger for money, and in its indifference as to how it is acquired…[and] in electing purchasable legislatures.”
Earlier this year, the House Energy and Commerce Committee Tuesday voted down an amendment that would have stated conclusively that climate change is occurring and is caused by humans. To them, and to Texas’s own senator Ted Cruz, “it’s still cold where [they] are.”
But what about the 97% of scientists who support climate change? Oh, you know, they’re wrong, of course. They’re only professionals in the that field. See that sudden increase in the graph of CO2 emissions? 1760s. Industrial Revolution, anybody? And if that’s not caused by humans, I don’t even know what to say…
Here’s the catch: Twenty-four E&C members — all Republicans — voted against the amendment. In total, the Republicans who voted to deny climate change have accepted about $9.3 million in career contributions from the oil, gas and coal industries, according to analysis by the CAP Action War Room. Who would benefit the most from a lack of regulations on pollution? The oil, gas and coal industries.
Twain, you’re quite right. Our representatives are willing to sacrifice the human race for monetary gains.
“Wonderful in the surprises which it gets out of that great new birth, Organization, the latest and most potent creation and miracle-worker of the commercialized intellect”
“Commercialized intellect,” aka, an idea that you buy (pun intended). Just like in Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, each episode in the novel serves to clarify his commentary even more–a bunch of people should not mindlessly follow an idea; it leads to stupid decisions and actions. The Sheperdsons versus Grangerfords episode: families killing each other because of generations-old family feud. Boggs versus Sherburn: “The pitifulest thing out is a mob; they don’t fight with courage that’s born in them, but with courage that’s borrowed from their mass, and from their officers.” And through each exaggerated scenario, the reader comes to a similar realization. Slavery: continuing an inhuman tradition because society says it’s ok is NOT ok.
“It has invented a thousand useless luxuries, and turned them into necessities; it has created a thousand vicious appetites and satisfies none of them”
Two words: Black Friday. People stomping over a pregnant women for a T.V.? Yeah, there may be something going wrong here, Twain.
“It is a civilization which has destroyed the simplicity and repose of life; replaced its contentment, its poetry, its soft romance-dreams and visions with the money-fever, sordid ideals, vulgar ambitions, and the sleep which does not refresh”
This line sums up Twain’s quote. Though I’ve had a lot to say regarding the other lines, I don’t agree with him that society has been entirely destroyed by our selfish gains. Certainly, our nation is currently garnering some unfavorable, but much needed attention, from recent verdicts regarding Ferguson (Mike Brown), New York (Eric Garner) and Ohio (Tamir Rice). But in the midst of “Bridgegates” and “Bob McDonnells,” there are the “HONYs” and “100 year old ladies seeing the ocean for the first time.” As a newspaper staffer, I know the effort put into choosing “interesting” stories to gain more readers and subscribers. It just so happens that scandals and controversial issues top the brainstorm list. (Journalists need to eat.) But it doesn’t have to be national news that you decided to save your brother a cookie. Or that that car this morning didn’t cut you off.
Society is also built on the small things. The seemingly trivial issues matter, too.
Society is wonderful. Wonderful in its individually unique people. Wonderful in the small and big miracles it holds for us. Wonderful in that beneath political, religious and societal views, we’re all humans with huge potentials.