By Mohamed Hamaludin
The world celebrated the landing of Neil Armstrong on the moon on July 20, 1969, a milestone for the human race, but the significance lay more in what it promised.
This was to be the dawning of a technological age in which the scientific achievement of putting a man on the moon 238,855 miles in the sky would launch an era in which human beings are freed from the drudgery of work and live lives of leisure and creativity.
Science-cum-technology has indeed reached giddying heights but, far from being in the service of humankind, it has been coopted to create a world that is so frightening that some people, especially the young, are coming to believe that it is better not to live.
That can be seen in the horrendous number of young men, in particular, for whom violent death is a way of life. To be more specific, look at the increasing number of children, particularly girls, in First Nations communities in Canada who are forming pacts to kill themselves. Three did so recently, bringing the total number of suicides to 523 since 1986, the highest rate being among those aged 10-14.
Canada may seem rather far and suicides among its First Nation people may seem irrelevant to a commentary on the dystopia which the world has become. But it is events in such seemingly remote places and among largely unknown people that point to the unease among humankind.
Hope has been replaced with hopelessness and despair. Far from being one of leisure and creativity, the future promises unrelenting poverty, hunger, disease and violence.
The so-called G-20, representing the wealthiest nations, pursue agendas that promote their own self-interests, those of the ruling elites of the world. It is no surprise that the group’s meetings are met with intense, often violent, protests.
The large companies, which, traditionally, operated under a social compact that saw them plough back profits into their businesses to expand them and widen their employee rolls and enhance the standard of living in host communities have been shipping their operations overseas to exploit cheap labor in regions that suffer grinding poverty. They pay their senior managers tens and hundreds of times more than the average worker gets. They hoard their profits in secret foreign bank accounts and their singular goal is shareholders’ financial wellbeing.
Rather than advancing a culture that encourages people to be eager to extend their hands for a friendly shake or fist bump, it is becoming the norm for those in power to make it easier to acquire weapons. The stranger is no longer a friend in waiting but a potential killer. Similarly, instead of vastly increasing aid to the poor parts of the world, hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of weapons are sold to tyrannical regimes who brutalize their people into subjugation. Machines of death and destruction are the new way of greeting brothers and sisters in foreign lands.
And the titans of technology, far from extending the benefits of the brave new world to all humankind, equally hoard their wealth or use it to fund idiosyncratic projects. Their relatively token donations to charity cannot hide the fact that they are in one way or other using the hundreds of billions of dollars accrued from gullible people hooked on the new drugs of consumer technology and social media to chart a course that will take them – all of them being white – to live among the stars while the rest of humankind die a horrible death in the destruction of the planet caused by their equally greedy peers in the fossil fuel-based energy sector.
Technology in their hands is not a tool for advancing the lives of fellow human beings but to propel the human race backwards. The cave markings of millennia gone are now emojis and emoticons.
Religion, which is supposed to make humans rise above their basest nature, after millennia of supposed faith, has often been used to divide peoples and promote violence.
The Earth’s resources are finite and belong to all who inhabit the planet, whoever they may be and wherever they may live. It will forever be a mortal sin for anyone to not only covet the world’s resources but also especially to exploit them for narrow, selfish ends.
Yet the rape of the resource-rich, technology-deprived South by the armed-to-the-teeth, resource grabbing North will continue unabated.
Governments and leaders will change but so long as the systems in place for running the affairs of the planet remain the same, life for the few will continue to be a paradise and, for the vast majority, a living hell. It is how it is, it is how it was and it is how it will be.