Victoria, over at Beauty in the Ordinary, has providing me with some interesting food for thought. In this case, it's "Louis C.K." appearing on Conan O'Brien's show.
Louis comments on the amazement of flying, the old way of doing this with credit cards, super-fast touch tone phones and hand-held devices, that take a second or two, and goes on to talk about how people complain when these things don't work perfectly and immediately. His point is that so many things in life are amazing, but nobody is happy, despite all these "amazing" things.
Somehow, I feel a misplaced sense of amazement. My question in response: Do these amazing things really make life better? What qualities of life — what core qualities of life — are improved? Love? Joy? Peace? Patience? Compassion? Kindness?
I guess I feel electronic gadgetry and high-flying aircraft may be amazing one one level, and not amazing at all on a much more profound level. To me, it seems like a miss-match.
Consider this. On its first night, the new Harry Potter movie took in about $43 million. Not bad for a movie, I guess. (Yes, I know Potter has a cult-like following, which accounts for this phenomenal income. I can virtually hear the "Oohs" and "Aahs.")
But my next question is: How much of that $43 million was sent to feed, house and provide medical care about ten million people, including two million children, who are hurt and starving in the drought-torn "horn of Africa"? (It's along Africa's east coast.) It is a huge humanitarian crisis, to which most people are only beginning to awaken. And there are predictions that the civil war and drought in Somalia may drive even more thousands into Nigeria. It is currently dealing with almost 400,000 refugees, who could entirely overwhelm Nigeria's strategy and ability to cope.
Ironically, we have extravagant pleasure and enormous pain existing in our world, at the same time, virtually side by side. The "electronic gadgetry" has brought those two things together. But if we have a narrow focus, we can miss the pain and hunger, or dismiss it as something inconvenient to our lives. Electronic gadgetry does not necessarily serve us well in this regard, nor does it necessarily serve those who suffer.
We might rightly be amazed but scientific advances, but do they make us more human, and more sensitive to the needs of others?