Slow down and think

December 6, 2018   ·   0 Comments

By Constance Scrafield

During our interview with Pete Paterson, he was talking about one of the big differences between analogue and digital photography.

“When we were using film,” said he, “we had to pay for it. So, every photo we took, we thought about it. Nowadays, people have digital cameras and everyone has a cell phone and they just take thousands of pictures without thinking too much about them.”

Indeed, the instant reaction is the most prevalent way of dealing with everything in this quick-to-do-it day and age. Running governments on Twitter, blurting out the first thing in a person’s head, having arguments at arm’s length with texting and diving into a romantic relationship online.

Being anonymous online forgives the need to think. Where eye contact, body language and physical touching are eliminated, there is seemingly less need for thoughtful concourse or sensitivity.

It is the constant interaction with the whole world that diminishes our ability to think, as the endless opinions of the earth’s entire population are flooding the waves, intruding into everyone’s home computer, phone, pads, etc. An exaggeration, perhaps, but there are clearly plans for that in the push to extend the internet to everywhere.

What worries this writer is that the United Nations has declared that access to the internet is a human right.

Not clean air; not access to fresh, clean food; not a just rule of law under which to live; not the right to earn a sum from which one can reasonably live; not the right to live in peace, free from attack by one’s own army or the unjustified attack from other – not necessarily enemy – governments.

Not the right to live with beauty, safety, sanity.

The internet, to which we must have access as a right – hasn’t it been everything you hoped it would not be? There are lots of sides to that remark but one thing for sure: it has been the tool for speeding up.

How many comments have you heard, have you made, about the speed at which so many people drive and the craziness in the driving? Being cut off; dashing from lane to lane which, as likely as not, does not get you there faster; no way to let you in but pushing aggressively to be allowed in front…

The speed of the changing images on every screen; the speed of the changing subjects from trivial to world-changing; are we so busy moving on that we forget to see where we have been?

The voices in the wilderness are multiplying all the time: to stop and smell the roses, to pay it forward, to be good to each other, to leave your devices behind and go for a walk outside where there is nature, trees, birds.

The voices are constantly reminding us, loud enough, evident enough to be noticed, to stop producing pollution, warming the earth and the oceans, to cut out fossil fuels. World leaders are congregating to try to do better – there may even be some sincerity in their discourse. The technology exists; political – read industrial – will is the barrier.

Let me say this. Trump wants to ruin the world, just to show how powerful he really is. What he is, is a sick man, more or less in charge of a very big ship. That he turns his back on climate change initiatives must be dismissed for two reasons: much of the United States is on board with the rest of the world leaders addressing the very real dangers; much of the rest of the world is working in real and effective ways to change what must be changed, including China and India.

As pressing as the rest is the need to stop the several wars in the Middle East: Syria, Yemen, Sudan and the torture in Myanmar. Pressing, too, for the high school fighting between Russia and the U.S. to stop; pressing for all talk of military aggression to stop. Pressing for the sale of armaments not to constitute the largest commercial order to ever be placed in history: the $10 billion order from Saudi Arabia to the USA for arms.

Imagine $10 billion for equipment for killing and suppressing people. This is how a society enjoys its wealth….

Slow down and think. How could $10 billion buy peace at last? The unrest in Yemen began with the so-called Arab Spring when another tyrant was disposed and weakness took his place, leading to poverty and starvation. Those two will always lead to struggle and rebellion. Feed people, give them a livelihood, let them participate in governance; allow the arts to flourish and there is no need for war.

The only people who benefit hugely from conflict are the people who own the factories that build  weaponry.

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