I grew so big
while I played
I pretend the grass
to my waste
for a better world
Yesterday I wrote about philosophers and how seriously they can take their task. You can widen this, of course, to all kinds of professions. Today I listened to a podcast where some biologists talked about the history of the crocodile. One thing they have done the last ten years is scanning fossils with all sorts of equipment to see how many different kinds of crocodiles there were 200 million years ago. It’s fascinating and cool to spend your day doing that, and it probably has some purpose down the line. I myself restore old wooden buildings and boats, and I can tell you precisely why it is important but, as I do now, I can tell you also why it is not that important. This finding meaning in what we do is something we all do. That’s why I called it “playtime” for grownups yesterday, and that sounds all jolly, but there is also a downside. We are so rich that we can do all of these fun but unnecessary jobs and produce so much stuff that we don’t need, and this pollutes the world and maybe even cynical.
A side note: I once read somewhere that if we as humans stopped producing all this unnecessary stuff but just start producing the things we need to eat and live, preferable locally, then we only need to work one day a week. We can then do all the fun stuff in our free time like research crocodiles and dead philosophers or make a race car. I know, fantasy world, but one that technically is possible.
This morning I thought of a brick as a metaphor for how important we are as individuals when it comes to our place in this world. Let us say we are all bricks, and as individual bricks, we are part of a building. We are part of it but not essential, we can remove you as a brick, and the building will not collapse; there is just a hole left.
But as a brick, you can also be the first and determine where the new building starts. You can also be the last brick in a building and declare it finished.
This is just a thought experiment. We are all just as (un)important as one brick in a house; we also feel like we bear an extra heavy load, even though our neighbor does exactly the same. Almost no one is that special, even if you know you are just a brick amongst other bricks.
But there are exceptional people, and they are no bricks in the context of this metaphor. You might call these people building inspectors, and they point out where the rotten bricks are, especially when they are clumped together and might undermine the whole structure of the building. I think we all have our ideas on who the “rotten bricks” might be and who the building inspectors are.
One of these people that is definitely not just another brick in the wall is Greta Thunberg. I don’t know much about her, but she is 18, and all these self-righteous world “leaders” try to ignore her. I cannot speak for you all, but I would be happy if I were actively ignored by these people because that would at least mean that my voice was loud enough to reach them. I don’t really care how she does it and why but she has something that makes her voice heard.