Sunday, August 8, 2010

It isn't the same, no matter how they wish it to be

We hear political pundits telling us how screwed we are. This is the next "Great Depression". But it neither informs us, nor helps us. This is how our popular culture avoids absorbing the full impact of bad news, and how it keeps us from carrying out actions that require great courage, and hardship. We are not averse to pain, if it brings us result. But we aren't talking about avoiding pain... I think our culture does something that makes us feel better about any given situation, without a moral commitment to change.

It isn't the same. We are often told that a certain event equates another event, or a certain disaster beckons to be as bad as a previous one. The current war is like a past war, a current economic downturn is like a previous one.

But we are victims of something in the media,
through no clear misbehavior or malicious intent. We live in a culture that seeks to make all events understandable. One way of doing this is by to assert that things are similar to another. Or that we can expect one event to play out, as another did. But, no matter how much easier it is if it worked that way, Desert Storm did not turn out to be Vietnam, nor did the later wars in Iraq nor Afghanistan. Before you suggest that they are equals in terms of failures or moral collapse due to various issues, Vietnam cost ten times more American lives than all three of the recent wars mentioned. The cost alone in lives suggests that any commentary equating the various conflicts to be at most surface level commentary, and worse, insulting to the complexity of each conflict.

There is no answer here to any problems, just a suggestion that every event, for good or bad is unique to itself, and the pain of the people in 1929 is nothing like it is now. We've changed so much that our lives cannot possible reflect the same, in the present to the past and vice versa.

If a movie, comic, television show, song, or piece of art, or literature can reflect that uniqueness we are the beneficiaries... because those who mold opinion seem to not want us to think seriously about change. Perhaps they have an interest in the status quo?


Anonymous said...

History does repeat itself. Media coverage dramatically downplays the true state of the national (and global) economy. And while the cost of blood ranked far higher in Vietnam, efforts in Iraq alone in the past decade have cost financially twenty times what Vietnam cost.
But I get your aim though. The past always looks grander, for good or ill. Because the present is always closer to hell than anything that unknowable future could ever possibly throw at us, right? Things get better, right?

alex-ness said...

I think the future isn't necessarily bright, but the past wasn't a so good.

Anonymous said...

That says an awful lot for every single lady I have ever boinked.

alex-ness said...

And we do not even know what she'd have to say about it all.

kurt wilcken said...

Well, like the fella said: History doesn't repeat, but it does rhyme.