Image from wikimedia by Nick Hobgood, CC-BY-SA 3.0
The title of this post is stolen from a catchy new John Mayer song. His lyrics are OK, if a little self-preoccupied. But the title resonated with me as I contemplate a world in collapse, and deal with the cognitive dissonance of dealing with it while holding a belief that we have no free will, that there is no time, no death, just nothing appearing as everything, appearing as this, for no reason.
So here is a list of the things I think, deep down, shouldn’t matter, as they’re only ephemera, beyond anyone’s control, just the apparent acting out of our universe’s unfolding and our conditioning — but which I feel, perhaps because of that conditioning, do matter. I will try my best not to impute intent or other cause or motivation to the things on this list, since what really matters, I think, is the harm they produce.
EIGHT THINGS THAT MATTER
- Dishonesty, manipulation, exploitation, propaganda, brainwashing and disinformation
- Inequality of power, wealth, influence and opportunity
- Acts of violence, threatened violence, intimidation, harassment, bullying, humiliation, cruelty, spite and hatred, at all scales
- Waste, in all its forms, from pollution and excessive consumption to packaging, plastics and poorly-made products
- Poisons of all kinds — anything that disturbs the natural balance of the planet
- Imprisonment and confinement of any creature, including forced work (‘wage slavery’), forced military service, and forced schooling, and other controlling behaviours at the collective or individual level
- Expectations and judgements, of oneself and of others
- Deprivation of the essential qualities needed to be an effective and functional human, including attachment at a young age, personal autonomy, connection with others and with the natural world, the capacity to be one’s authentic self, basic dignity, healthy food, water and environment, and control over one’s own body
(You’ll note that things like selfishness, insensitivity, ignorance and stupidity are not on this list; I think of them, as I think of collapse, caste-ism, overpopulation, and genocide, as being likely inevitable consequences of the above.)
I am both subject and object of all of the above ‘things that matter’; I am both their perpetrator and their victim. We are not well, and the eight ‘atrocities’ above are manifestations of our disease. (The word ‘atrocity’ etymologically means ‘seeing the fearsome fire’ and I use the word in quotes in this sense, not in a judgemental sense.)
So these eight things, and their consequences, matter to me. They shouldn’t matter — we have no control over what we do or how we have evolved. These are, with rare exceptions, uniquely human actions and attitudes, and may have not been part of pre-civilization human behaviour either.
But here we are. These eight things and their terrible consequences are endemic in our culture, and they will almost assuredly end once that culture has fully collapsed, which is what is happening quickly now. In the meantime, we can only reassure ourselves that it won’t be long now before they will no longer define the human experiment.
In the meantime, it shouldn’t matter. But it does.