31 March 2009

5th BC

What is it that makes society great? What makes a place somewhere you want to aspire to or choose to live? How do the people guide your decision and what makes that such an important factor.

Cambridge. Our fair city. Or as some would call it the people’s republic of Cambridge. The closest thing to a liberal utopia that is to be found in this the most successful democracy to date. And yet those of us that interact with it, and strive for that progressive ideal, still see it as a flawed system. A flawed construct that does not mirror reality. If we were to give it us so easily because we thought it pretentious, or uninspired. Lacking the angst of a survivalist. I mean do we really think that our Prozac filled world, the industrialized, fiber connected information age first world America, that there is any true struggle left?

The third world survival as existence, mentality is much better suited to our genetic makeup. For all perspectives, they seem happier than I would ever be. They just want food, not the latest LCD. Something satisfying about that.

But then let us look at this liberal utopia. What makes it so appealing? Why, hold the fact that most residents are well adjusted successful upstanding members of society. Why look down upon this place not for lack of diversity of faces but diversity of classes.

What lends this place to complex conversations, and enlightening discussions from varied points of view? The answer is the difference between survival and plenty. Not that this class is aloof or above. Most here could have had the house on the hill. The dog, the picket fence, the 3 car garage. But they chose to live in a place where they could practice what they preach. Walk to work, live in a community. Be together. Not having to struggle for our daily bread made this possible.

Pick any point in our history. Not US history from sophomore year in high school. Yet civilization, and the history of man. Where were we? What took us from caves to the information age? Survival as a daily human condition.

Look at our major periods of growth in hindsight. Greeks.

That society had the ability to ponder art, spirituality, math, and science. You could never have a philosopher or astronomer without the ability to live life above subsistence. Think of all the advances made by that generation and group of people.

Then ponder what the support structure was.

Millions of people were slaves, peasants supporting the great minds that shaped the time and those to follow. These people made it possible to better understand the stars and our place in them. How different were these slaves from today’s white collar workers. Who work endlessly and think non stop about what they have to do for work. For a job. For the ability to spend time with the ones we love. We give up that time so that we may have it later. Or at least we think. So again I ask what makes those slaves different. Are we propping up the great minds so that they can discover the new world and invent the language of the future just as the Greeks invented math and algebra that took us into the 5th century BC? What about all of us overwhelmed with stress about work, and the bottom line. Are we supporting the next innovations in society and democracy?

What is our place as these slaves of the modern world? And how does this relate to good old Cambridge?

Because some people are hard working and yes sometimes lucky enough to find themselves in a place where they can ponder art and politic. They can try and improve our system and our society. This is only possible through something above subsistence. So if I have to choose where to lay my head at night, even if it’s only a few hours before it rises again for the next 8-10 hour fight. I choose to be as close to utopia as possible. Yes it may not be as inspiring, intriguing or interesting as struggling to get by, it is worth it. For those rare moments where you find yourself debating ancient history, and our purpose in the universe. They make it all worth it. And while you can find them else where, sometimes it just easier to create a beautiful painting when the sky is blue and the earth is red.


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