For though I leave my land,
I simply step on another
What does it mean to write of the universal human experience? Do I deprive a people of their identity and a land of its signature by shaping my mindset to think of an all-inclusive narrative, or my eyes to see worldwide struggle and joy, or my mouth to speak of triumph and sorrow? Themes exist for this reason, do they not? China has tragedy, Bolivia has betrayal, Chile has passion, and the United States has jealousy; exchange any of those themes with any country, not just those listed here, and the statement remains true.
Differentiation results from actions undergone as a result of, or in response to, different circumstances. History, we call it. Whether victory or defeat was attributed to outside barbarians or inner incompetence, specific actors, and the names they carry change, but their roles do not. Storylines remain fascinating, however, despite their repetition, and even though we as a human race have thousands of years to lay claim to, sometimes we rise—sometimes we fall.
If the following era of world history is to be the Anthropocene, I ask, again, what would really change? Manipulation at the hands of Mother Nature merely shifts to manipulation by human hands. Perhaps a new element is the purpose with which change occurs: Mother Nature spewed out of volcanoes, as an involuntary reaction to pent-up pressure—we will react, purposefully, in response to convenience. The term “natural barrier” cannot exist in the Anthropocene, unless we transpose natural with artificial, but better yet if we combine the two. And why wouldn’t we?
All of this is to marvel at humanity. The perspective I lend—for it is one I cannot give—benefits from optimism, one that sees misery, but does not recoil from it. Continual improvement, endless betterment, humanity inadvertently drives toward both of these goals, even if for purely selfish reasons. Monetary gain is but the latest incentive we’ve seen before in different forms; when we once handed one another seashells, we now hand paper. Besides, if it weren’t for the few inventors among us, those who figuratively broke ground, and literally to accommodate their contribution, we could never advance. We, the ones who never invented anything would lie still in the doldrums, holding rocks.
But I digress. Around me I see a modern country. Its heritage, its relics are on display for curious passersby, tourists who retain little and clamor for the preservation of artifacts, not for their significance, but for the enjoyment that is to be derived from their observation. Authenticity is constantly pursued, and so authenticity is constantly lost, because what could be more authentic than the present? Sure, our existence may be illusory, but the fact remains the same—that is to say, the illusion remains.
This ended up far more ponderous than observant. Since each influences the other, in a simultaneous fashion, does that dichotomy even exist? Does any?