I overheard a friend recently criticize the excitement over Nik Wallenda’s death-defying walk across the Grand Canyon. Another friend called him something to the effect of a useless hero. Their criticism lies in the fact that nothing actually comes of his activity. It is exciting, courageous, entertaining, and exhibits an amazing amount of focus, but it does nothing to address what some people feel are more pressing issues, like poverty, homelessness, or crime. But what if his offering actually is providing what the world needs?
When we look at the state of the world and the challenges that we face, the majority of them, with the arguable exception of natural disasters, are caused by humankind. All of the problems which wreak such havoc among communities and individuals are the direct consequence of human activity. Crime is a problem because we have become consumed with creating laws, thereby advocating criminality. Poverty exists because we have become reliant on an imbalanced economic system of competition, debt, and slavery. Homelessness is an issue because we have turned existence itself into a commodity and put profit over people.
My question lately has been related to why these activities were started in the first place? With the ominous realization that our monetary system has gotten completely out of hand, I have to wonder if it was begun with such intentions in mind. There is a tendency, especially among conspiracy theorists looking for a scapegoat for everything that happens, to elaborate upon this story of Illuminanti and the malevolent guidance of those who have been guiding the direction of our civilization for generations. But what if it wasn’t malevolence that created our system, but merely human fallibility based on the adjustment to a new perspective by participating in something that had never done before.
New considerations over the development of language, symbols, art, and culture offer the possibility that our evolution was not based upon the search for survival, as scientific dogmatists would have us believe, but were changes created in our operating procedures merely in the pursuit of enjoyment. We started telling stories, categorizing, creating, and developing not because we had to, but because it was fun.
There are plenty of things to fix in the clusterfuck we’ve made of our culture, and I do get frustrated when I see more energy being put into tabloid development than solution development. Yet I also put the skill of Nik Wallenda in a completely different category than whatever inanities occur on Jersey Shore. Nevertheless, as much as I would love to see people embrace healing the damage that our activities of excess cause, sometimes it’s good for us to simply experience something astounding to inspire us that the astounding is possible, even through something as simple as walking on a wire.