Us, humans. There is a lot going on that is giving me the feeling that there is more wrong than right with how we are behaving as a group. According to news bulletins I read and listen to every day, wrong is winning over right, evil is winning over good, and that is not good news. But that is what’s wrong with the news itself, it glorifies wrong by reporting ceaselessly on wrong, and ignores right and good by hardly ever reporting on what is going well. Good and Evil don’t have equal air time. One is fighting with a slingshot and the other with a nuclear weapon. The David and Goliath of news items.
Good news is just not sexy enough. What is so great in reporting that 10,000 planes took off and landed safely on any given day? To me, this is wonderful news, I hate flying, but to news people, this is not juicy enough to make a news bulletin. Journalists and editors don’t decide that on a whim, they have reached their decision based on what we, the consumers are looking for. We humans like gore. Full stop. We love conflict, tension, death, spectacular accidents. Ask any psychologist, what we fear most has most likely already happened or is something that we wish would happen. If you are sitting in bed fretting that a meteor would hit earth one day, you are most likely wishing that the meteor would slam into earth to solve your problems and those of humanity. We are not a simple species, we think more and therefore are more complicated than all of God’s other creatures – until we meet aliens and compare, that is.
We are like that, human beings, complicated, unfathomable. We like to be in close proximity with pain, hurt, we like to make our lives melodramatic, we love drama. We like to slow down on the road to watch a gory accident scene, it is called rubbernecking-an awful term. How sick is that? Instead of rushing past and avoiding the blood and wreckage being thrust in our face reminding us of our mortality, we stop, causing a huge traffic jam, look at the unfortunate victims in their bloody state, then reluctantly take off, often speeding after a few minutes, forgetting the valuable lesson of the scene we just witnessed, caused most likely by speeding. Don’t you get that over and over? Aren’t you struck by our fascination with what is sensational and our boredom with what is stable, calm, and yes, happy?
One afternoon this fall I was sitting under my favorite tree in my garden talking to a friend who said: “I want the person I share my life with to drive my blood pressure up, to drive me crazy.” Um, what the hell? I tried to give feedback that maybe one or two fights are good, but people who can drive each other crazy on a regular basis are not much of a match, but it fell on deaf ears. We tend to romanticize conflict.
We even believe that philosophers, poets and writers are supposed to be miserable and suffering to be able to create great pieces of art and wisdom. Really? Just because we are blessed to be living in better times does not mean we need to seek the living conditions of those who lived in ancient times or in times of no or little creature comforts to be able to create. If Plato or any author in Victorian England had a chance to live in well-heated homes, had good health care, means of dental hygiene where they can keep most of their teeth, could eat well, be in a different continent in a matter of hours, and can be tweeting in real time to followers across the globe and a bit further on the international space station, they would not have been as miserable as they were with the daily hardships of life in the olden days. They had no electricity for God’s sake, they mostly wrote in the dark on candle light with a feather dipped in ink, imagine editing those manuscripts, nothing was readily available, including running water and plumbing, it was too hot or too cold, and they had to go everywhere either on foot or on animal backs, smelling horse manure for the duration of the eternally long journey, attacked by robbers at times or attempting not to die from the plague or catch leprosy. Hell, I would have been miserable on a continuous basis had I lived in those conditions.
The states of happiness, serenity, contentment, peace, and yes, predictability can be good things for us. We strive to have conflict in a way that makes us idolize pain and ignore bliss. What is wrong with being happy in a relationship, reveling in the fact that the person we share our lives with is the person that will be with us, defending us, on our side in thick and thin, especially in the thickest of thicks?
I believe some of us are wrong to assume that those who drive us crazy and abuse us are the providers of constant excitement that would somehow spice our lives and render it unpredictable, and therefore more interesting, causing us to create. What a silly thought. We live for years trying to get to the point where we overcome difficulties and when we can finally sit on the porch of our lives, gazing at the stars, content that we have found our other half, who is the world to us and to whom we are the world. That is called getting there, having it all. Even without running water, you can live in a cave and have that and be content. But, you can on the other hand live in a penthouse with a doorman and a butler and have daily fights that in the beginning might seem oh so exciting, then would take over your life. You end up having to pass that gory accident on your way to work every day, and you start longing for a respite that could bring you, yes, bliss, happiness, calm, predictability. That is the assurance that you know your fellow human whose fate you tied to yours will actually be there for you, supporting you, loving you, cherishing you, standing by you, no matter what. Less sensational? Perhaps. Happy? Definitely. News worthy? Who cares.