It’s disturbing how distorted understanding can become simply because we’re exposed to repetitive messaging. That said, there’s always been awareness of the fact that it happens and a concern that we’ll become collectively less reasoned in our approach to life as media captures more of our attention.
Cyrano de Bergerac contends with this at the tail end of the 30 Years War, which so unsettled Europe it lost 8 million lives to conflict, disease, and famine between 1618 and 1648. We think we couldn’t imagine, but that’s part of the distortion our own 30 years war has brought.
Cyrano is a poet and a warrior. He trains recruits for the French Army. When he isn’t he’s writing commentary on the way in which high society distracts itself from the suffering it has created. There’s a tragedy written to memorialize him, but it’s just fiction.
His message was simple. It said we suffer so long as we’re distracted from the world around us. It said that we’re not making the world a better place so long as we’re engaged in fantasy.
Sadly, this is the world we live in. Modern society is so distracted it’s become fragmented. We lose track of whether we’re pursuing activities that will improve our lives and the lives of those around us, or just engaging in fantasy.
Our 30 years war began as the Soviets withdrew from Afghanistan and those Saudi fighters who drove them out turned their sights on us. I know this because I worried about my safety as I traveled overseas while Osama bin Laden called for our heads. Sadly, I saw some of the men he captured beheaded in footage prepared as propaganda in the mid 90’s.
We were briefly focused on the purpose behind this approach. It was to draw us into a guerrilla war that just didn’t suit our fighting style. Then we were distracted by repetitive messaging that said if we don’t deploy they’ll attack again.
Of course they would. They’ll never stop in fact. Which is why security is so important. But it’s equally important that we respond in a well reasoned manner when catastrophe strikes. That’s the part we obviously got wrong because it spread conflict throughout the region and disrupted diplomatic and security operations that might have prevented Russia from gaining a foothold in Georgia and Ukraine.
This is relevant to our lives. It’s altered our politics, put us at odds with one another, and causes us physical and psychological suffering still. We should take a break from it, but we should not engage in fantasies that say everything’s going as well as it should so we can avoid it altogether.
We’ll have to do the same when confronted by environmental concerns. America has been industrialized. It’s part of our culture now, but it’s also the cause of our suffering. We’ll have to remember that when encouraged to rely on industry to reverse the damage it’s done. We’ll have to remember that it’s still driven by a quest for wealth and may therefore paint as rosy a picture of its future pursuits as it painted of its past.
Opinion pieces reflect the views of the individual author, and do not reflect the views of the Daily Bulldog, Mt. Blue TV, or Central Maine Media Alliance. Publication of an opinion piece does not equate to endorsement of the content of the piece.