When I was young I thought the modern world was great. I was basically taught to worship it, as if it were a god. Science, technology, ‘know-how’, knowledge . . . all these things were to be worshipped. To condemn them got quite a reaction, as if one was a traitor or heretic. But, unfortunately, as I grew older, this is what I did. The reason is that I became at odds with the modern world. I began to see that it wasn’t what it seemed to be.
Over the years I can see that the idea of the ‘modern world’ was like a new Christianity – a new saviour – to save us. It came over us like a great cloud casting its shadow upon us, supported and ‘proven’ by all the new inventions and new knowledge it created. It was, in a way, like a mania, particularly after WWII. I can still recall, in the 70’s, how all this was looked at with an awe and amazement. I, too, got caught up with it. Oddly, one of the big disappointments of my life is to find out that it wasn’t true at all. In reality, a great ‘myth of the modern world’ was created.
One of the big aspects of this myth is that the modern world as if rose us above normal humanity. In a way, it ‘elevated’ us to a higher state and, in a way, we became ‘super humans’. This point of view became very prevalent in the U.S. after WWII.
But rising us above humanity it created ideals and expectations that were ‘above humanity’. I can remember how this was idealized. There were all sorts of sayings reflecting this, such as ‘reach for the stars’ and so forth. This all sounded good but, by so doing, it created a point of view that was ‘above humanity’. That is to say, it created, from the beginning, a point of view that was unhuman or inhuman (depending on how you want to look at it) and was going to head in one direction only: Alienation. It created, in effect, a ‘culture of alienation’. In other words, its point of views and philosophies were removed from and set apart from the mundane boring “horrible” existence of actual human life.
In fact, one element of the ‘myth of the modern world’ is that it presupposes that unmodern life is miserable. This means that the past, being unmodern, is automatically miserable. It also means that any unmodern people were miserable. How many times have I heard of the rest of the world as ‘backward’ or ‘stuck in the past’? The people of the modern world thought they were at the pinnacle of humanity and everyone else was as if ‘eating their dust’.
And where was the human being in all this? I have a saying: “The modern world is not fit for human beings“. It is not. It was never intended to be. Remember, its whole basis was to rise above human nature. By so doing, the human being is ‘left behind’. We are supposed to let science and technology take control and be our saviour. Oddly, a basic attitude of the modern world is to allow science and technology to run our life. In so doing, it will make us ‘happy’. That’s a common point of view. But that implies giving up our life to it.
With the development of the modern world it became very much associated with individualism. This is because it was the ‘individualists’ who “went beyond” convention and current beliefs to discover scientific truths. This was often immortalized by people who “dared to dream” or were “ahead of their times”. As a result, the worship of the modern world is very much associated with individualism. Ironically, though, the modern world destroys the individual. It expects us to give up our lives to it and, basically, become a slave to it. The fact of the matter is that the reality of the modern world contradicts the “ideal” of it.
It has created a world where the human being is not ‘first’. It has created a world where the human being is ‘out of place’. It has created a world that expects people to be “its” way in order to fit in. Now, more than ever, kids have to go through unheard of years in school just to learn to ‘exist’ in the modern world. It has created a world that is undermining human institutions and beliefs. In effect, the modern world has created a reality that we are now subservient to and must obey and which is removed from our humanity.
This “modern beast” does not change to fit our needs. It does not change to be more human-friendly. It has made us very dependent on it – we now cannot live without it. It has a mind of its own and goes its own way, sometimes in our favor, sometimes not. This mind we cannot control. No one has control of the “modern beast”. What has been created is a reality that hangs over our head that controls our lives, that does not change to our needs (even though its ‘supposed’ to be for us), that is unhuman, and that has a mind of its own which we cannot control.
This now hangs over our heads.
Living under the modern world, seeking our humanity has become very critical. There are many of us whose life has become a quest to “rediscover” our humanity. We seek to rediscover what the modern world has ‘tossed out’. And why is it that anyone who seeks their humanity always has this tendency to be at odds with the modern world? The answer is simple: The modern world is not fit for human beings.