How much trust do you place on humanity? Let me tell you, my dear cynics and optimists, a story. Give me a few minutes of your time and allow me to transport you to a parallel universe, to a purely hypothetical situation in a made-up planet that may or may not be a reference to our own. It is a story about lifeforms, on a giant purple globe that plays host to a multitude of birds, beasts and relatives, with flora and fauna to match Durrell’s wildest fantasies. There is one species on this planet that is unlike the rest. This particular species has evolved over the span of a few centuries, a minor blip in the timescale of planetary evolution, to be the most intelligent organism amongst all. They developed tools, created fire, invented the wheel, and then accelerated their way into the realms of artificial intelligence, quantum mechanics and beyond, into the kind of technology that would put even Asimov to shame. And yet, contrary to what you would expect, they were the saddest of all species, forever whining and complaining about this, that and nothing at all, eternally discontent with what they had, always looking to wage war on other lands, chasing treasure and glory like stealthy magpies.
On this planet, there were hundreds of nations created by this species, which we shall now refer to as the Zorks. There was one particular nation, which, like a well-known secret, held the planet’s economy in a tight grip, had military bases that sprung up like mushrooms on almost every other nation’s coasts and had forced their way of life onto the rest of the Zorks in a move that us humans would refer to as a neo-colonialistic one. It was called Cameria. The Zorks, as a consequence of their epic wars and disproportionately high consumption rates, had always known that they were destroying the planet they lived in. But what could one do? Most Zorks became armchair activists, crying injustice from the comforts of their futuristic abodes and passively watching the horrors inflicted by their fellow Zorks. But unbeknownst to them, the most sinister threat of all was the almost complete takeover of their planet’s media by Cameria and its allies. They had ingratiated their way into everyone’s minds, touting honesty and transparency as the pillars of their journalistic ventures. More powerful than physical rule was mind control and Cameria knew it and made the most of it. Advertisements were designed to create wants, not to fulfil existing needs, Zorks were made to believe that Cameria was all-knowing, all-powerful and always right. What’s that, you say? Why didn’t they revolt? Oh mon dieu, revolutions are out of the question! You see, the Zorks had become too mollycoddled to step out of the veiled system they thrived in and observe it from the outside. That’s too much work; after all, why stand out in the sun and rally when you could wage effortless wars on social media platforms controlled by Cameria?
Sounds uncomfortably familiar, doesn’t it? Don’t worry old chap, it’s just a story. But I must warn you that fact is stranger than fiction. Now it’s time for you to go back to the humdrums of your world. If you think about this, it will weigh you down and when that happens, as Rumi once said, ‘Out beyond the ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field. I’ll meet you there’. Till then, do ponder on the question I started this piece off with.