Modern Life and the Moral Bankruptcy of Our Society

A couple of weeks back I jumped on the bus home on a Saturday night. As soon as I climbed up the steps and was halfway in, I was greeted by the sight of an elderly woman standing in the aisle by the median pole. She was holding it with one hand and the backrest of the seat with the other. Nobody offered her a seat, not even the young woman who kept typing away on her mobile phone. Standing just within a few meters of the scene, I thought to myself: she ought to have given up her own. Nope, she wouldn’t do that. Appallingly, she took no notice of this elderly woman who slowly stepped down the aisle and stood right next to her seat.

The blue-toothed dumbphone user who seemed to me forever inundated by digital messages, simply acted as if she is non-existent and she didn’t much care, and wouldn’t even look up from her phone to see, to think, to realize… to live her life or to care.

That selfish act of hers, according to me, was hopeless, odd and sad beyond belief. And of course, the other one beside her in the window seat, a woman, pretended to be seriously checking her prized possession: her mobile phone didn’t seem to care much about the goings-on of the world around her either. Her face bowed forward dully aglow with diodic white light emitting from her mobile device placed on her lap. What’s more, she too acted up as if her hard-to-ignore phone is her lifeblood and she possibly could die without it if she didn’t check her messages (which she did all the time of her bus ride). Oblivious to the frail elderly woman standing near her, she won’t look up from her mobile but moved her head from side to side as if matching the dance steps to the music of some new-age sizzling funk. (She damn well knows how to groove better than Disha Patani or BeyoncĂ© Knowles or Baba Ramdev. She can even respond to that pathetic kiki challenge. It’s funny that such dance moves could be excellent for mass bowel movements!) And the elderly woman continued to keep vigil for a seat while I kept thinking to myself that at least she could have breathed easy and rested her legs a bit if she gets a seat to sit, which seemed very unlikely given all the goings-on that one has to put up with in today’s public buses. What a tragedy.

The public transport bus was jam-packed with hordes of people as they usually are in our country. But no one relinquished their seat for the elderly woman who was visibly struggling to balance her frail weight in the bone-rattling hell-raising RTC bus. This speaks a rancid lot about our so-called ‘modern times’ we live in if you ask me.

What this above story of mine illustrates the fact is that the growing public apathy towards our senior citizens in a crowded bus is not only abusive but also ill-mannered that many commuters turn a blind eye towards their basic rights. Seats earmarked for Senior Citizens are not vacated. If you think that such a thing doesn’t happen anymore than it used to be once, perish the thought immediately. Get on to a public transport bus to experience it firsthand. It happens all the time. Elderly persons are treated as second-class citizens. They certainly don’t get the kind of respect they merit. The bus drivers yell at them to hustle up their steps and get inside quickly and once inside the bus conductor shouts at them to pay up. Almost no one has patience with the elderly. You obviously don’t go around, not on a bus, do you? You may have well-maintained lambigaadis (big luxury cars!) and ultra-modern do chakkas (two-wheeler bikes!) for your luxury commute, but if you travel in a much-abused local state transport bus chock-full with the awful population, you’d know how people react or don’t react for that matter to the proceedings in the public places. Some people manage to look like they smell of three-week-old underpants, sweaty and full up with self-importance, while some others are just helpless, hapless and insensitive to the goings-on in front of them. If you ask me for a free opinion, I don’t hesitate one bit to say that humanity is going down the loo. You don’t have to even flush it; it will go down the back hole on its own! Make of it what you will, but I am getting angst-ridden about certain things happening around me – like a normal do-gooder person would be in solidarity with other fellow do-gooders who feel just the same as I do. But do-gooders are a rare breed. We can’t lay everything at the feet of the common street lingo: “That’s how the world works!” and forget about it. At the risk of painting everyone with a single brush, I’d still say that we have slowly descended ourselves into being a morally bankrupt society, even beyond bankrupt sometimes. While cows, goats, and monkeys in our country get reverential treatment, human beings get lynched, tortured, mutilated by the devious socially unfit hate mongers of their own ilk. It’s not the taxes or the money that kill civilizations, but communal unwillingness to do good deeds does. Don’t miss to add Global Warming or Climate Change to that woeful rundown of mankind’s bloody betrayals and his gross infamies.

After all, we all have one life to live, don’t we? So much for the kind of modern life we lead, especially the new millennial kind! Looks like modern life is not everyone’s cup of tea, mine neither, but can we afford to lower our basic sense of moral standards and harp about “That’s how the world works!” and escape? For this reason alone, personally speaking, modern life (not modern society) sucks. BOOYAHH!!!

I have often wondered if people are getting worse in the allegedly ‘modern world’ we live in. Indeed, I do lament the way we live in the 21st century. It appears as if we live in the Dark Ages – (Jurassic age? Because the term Jurassic is the latest thing these days! But hey! Not the motion picture one wherein those Dinos acceptably figure out to eat everything that moves and dump a huge bombshell of poop and puke that doesn’t. Not their fault, it’s a call of nature. I was just delineating their evolutionary tantrum, safely keeping out the shimmering exotic fare of petrified Dino-droppings and leaving out suggesting how amazingly big a pile was that!) – and not in the supposedly modern world you (not I) millennial Generation Y (mine was thankfully gen X, status: bygone, but those days are still missed) sing fuzzy praises to every day of your glum, apps-controlled paralyzed life.

The World Is In Eclipse

Tell me, why is everyone so pissed off these days? Trump, Kim, Brexit, Isis, Doklam, and Rakhine are just a handful of those deadly affairs that make me wince in peevish sympathy and drop an expletive or two for what is happening around us. You ask why sympathy? Because I am a helpless common man and I pity my own breed which I think is at risk of losing sight of its main purpose, which is to be HUMAN first.

The world is in eclipse. The dangerous Dumbledores of the world and there are, oh God, a whole bunch of these power-hungry hustlers: no wonder, their soul-culling tweets trump up a miasmic front-page spotlight for themselves and continually dictate deadly injunctions for everyone to fall in line with their malevolent designs or else… your way of life as you know it is most certainly doomed. All this don’t give me a future to dream about. However, that’s a sordid tale I want to write about some other time if I’m alive. Trust me; it’s past the point where it is not possible to save the world from going down the drains or going up the exhaust pipe, so to speak. Mankind’s folly: global warming is going to claim the whole world anyway. One day or another Nature’s fury is going to unleash the conveyor belt of punishment we are so foolishly itching to deserve. If not, we anyway have these Dumbledores up in arms to snuff the Earth out from its orbit. Living in the modern world is akin to humankind’s dilemma of getting caught between the cliff and the whirlpool, no easy way out to remedy this curse.

Forget about going to the inhabitable Mars where signs of probable alien life in lakes and valleys are a dime a dozen, or Jupiter or any other vapid dustblown space rock hanging out their dirty linen for us to take the bait, Earth is the one and only game reserve of co-existing animals, marauding humans, and birds we have been granted by the Gods. Thank God, we have no other home and thank God there will not be another. We’re all in this together; on our third rock from the Sun. We’ve to live here and kick the bucket here. Tell me Elon Musk, are you getting visions of interstellar travel and all that aspirational jazz that comes with it? Do you fancy shaking hands with the aliens, the little green-gooed extraterrestrials that might fancy checking out your ‘spacex’ gigs? Go home stupid. It’s never gonna happen. On second thought, the only concession I am willing to give you is for your electric vehicle (EV) your ‘Teslaphiles’ are going to complete manufacturing. That’s going to be something optimistically good in the race to save our planet from the harmful impacts of tons and tons of carbon emissions. Thank you for the “giant cybernetic collective” to produce zero-pollution vehicles. Sounds great for the environment. But interstellar travel? Forget it, man. It’s never going to work. Now go on, go home.

Let me get my head around the topic at hand first which I admit is far more complicated than I thought it would be. But allow me this small transgression to write a short reflective account as I have a depressing allegory of modern times to narrate. Please don’t blame me crazy; you know how the modern world works: passing double meaning comments masquerading as jokes which are expected to be taken lightly and not seriously even if they seem ridiculously stupid, being critically judgmental (now, this is a disease common among most of us) and ‘like’ it or not the invasion of omnipresent social media are but just a few of the pain vanillas to lament about in this so-called modern life of yours and mine. However, I grant that I know fairly little of the way the world works politically and economically, but I’m glad you are doing just great being a clever know-all monster of sorts, don’t you Mr. Trump? How about you Mr. Kim? Besides, Mr. Kim, it seems that the Dumbledores of the Trumpian world can make you and your country rich (Trump Tower-size if you like), but only if you give up your weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) and lose your weight! Get trendy, Mr. Kim. And what is that gelled hairsty… ? Oh never mind. Good on you. You did the thing right by pledging to denuclearize. Good riddance of those funny-looking penile rockets of yours, they don’t belong to humankind. God bless you, Kim ji. You’ve fallen in line. You had to, I understand. Your country’s soil will soon get enriched with Trump Towers and all that deck of matchboxes will scrape the sky of your island nation, as promised by that nasty presidential counterfeiter of America, the hot-headed Don whose official house (not his tower) is white. Meanwhile, Earth is saved again, for now at least. Sigh.

My Last-Ditch Effort at Living a Modern Life

Yet, I have other pebbles to pick from the beach – my last-ditch effort at living life without going through the revolting “start-from-the-scratch” scenarios again, if it really is possible living life without having to correct any mistakes, it will really be of no great help. Correcting one’s previously committed mistakes often tantamount to one’s, I believe, willingness to do good for oneself and move on; you get to be morally upright, and stuff like that works in the world where you have to sometimes rub shoulders with fundamentally-immoral people. This is one of the reasons why living life king size has been a subject of dislike or anathema to me as I feel I am not intended to live my life the way most middle-class people are aspiring (or perspiring) to – that is to earn money only to lose it at the shopping malls, buying stuff that is really not needed. That’s a lot of impulse buying spree there. Have money, will splurge syndrome. And mind you I don’t have problems with the kind of life people live because I don’t need to be racked with humbug anxiety that could bring my Waterloo closer than I want it to. For all I know, of my pickled brain predilections and predicaments, they live their lives better than I can ever hope to.

Most people who have a little bit of money buy big houses, spacious flats in gated communities, flashy phones, big cars they don’t really need. I think people suffer from the ill effects of ‘rock-bottom’ self-esteem and emotional maturity, a kind of personality deficit that needs a high-touch of perpetual glare from their own community members or from the general society at large, massaging their inflated egos in the process. According to me, these are the most obvious reasons why they want to show off how successful they are in life and their newly acquired wealth to buy anything others can’t. Roaming around in swishy cars with swishier names and swishiest number plates make them feel that they should be taken seriously and therefore look unabashedly successful while they are at it. This sounds like envy talking above his pay grade. Does it really? I am not envious of anybody’s wealth or success, why should I be? All that I ever crave for is my family and gharerbhojon(home-cooked food) with dal bhaat (lentils soup and rice) with macher jhol (fish curry) on the menu, and visit temples and light incense sticks for the presiding deity’s darshon.

Looking at his flashy new phone, I once pried one of our society’s self-certified homdachomdas(big shot figures, most likely of the predatory Harvey Weinstein stock) who can be considered nothing short of an inveterate materialistic-consumerist junkie: Is it really required to spend extravagantly on an expensive phone costing upwards of Rs. 80,000? The answer sounded like a lame excuse, “Oh!! I just love gadgets and you know what, this is” flashing his latest mobile acquisition to me “absolute NIRVANA”. I pitied him. I just hope our paths never cross again.

I find their mentality to be basically corrupt to not want to have just a small house or an apartment or travel in a public transport whenever required. In today’s advertising-driven world, they see others affording material luxuries so they too want to do likewise. They too want to have it all and flaunt it and impress others in their community. That’s not normal according to my left-leaning style of living; it’s abnormal. People come up with excuses such as, “I love gadgets, you know”; “I want a big house, mansion-like” to justify the ‘power’ they derive from their amassing of wealth and the misguided feeling of a high societal position they hanker after. Yeah, the king wants to roam great halls and look down from the arched balconies! How bullying is that.

Even their personality traits like newfound accent, their walking style and body language, their spoken language, so on and so forth changes, irrespective of the fact that almost every one of them might have had started off from humble and modest origins. Forgetting their humble past, they hurtle towards a future that can never be sustainable from the standpoint of our planet Earth’s lifespan in the day and age of rising temperatures and habitat loss. I am not one of judging people but I find it shameful really. People buy swanky blah, blah, blah, stuff to attract attention as if they want others to consider them more important than they were previously unaccustomed to and respect them for what they have ‘achieved’. Nikes on their feet and Rolexx at their wrists – what bloody pride!

Well, what I mean to say is that there are no ‘WMDs’ in my life to protect. (Poor Mr. Kim used to have a different kind of WMDs but he’d wisely destroyed them or so it seems). My ‘WMDs’ are carbon emissions kind I need to find ways to put a stop to. However, I try to lead a plain vanilla type of life and yet at the end of the day I happen to contribute to the soaring temperatures of our planet’s fragile ecosystems which I don’t ever like to. To me, the natural world is more important than enjoying manmade luxuries that come with an expiry date. Modern life is unsustainable. But the fact is there’re no immediate ‘WMDs’ in my life to seriously think about. The empathy towards our global biodiversity and climate stability should be a necessary motivator for making the world a better place to live in. Ignoramuses like Mr. Trump and Mr. Kim should have to know.

The Left-Socialist type of life is also what I mean, not the consumption-heavy globalized Free-Market rape capitalism type that plunders our beautiful blue planet. The latter part of our economic success story sucks for sure. In the man-made made-to-size globalized world, king size modern life is anathema to me. The high, coarse standards of lifestyle that we all have set ourselves to get accustomed to has become the harbinger of global carbon emissions and rising temperatures contributing to greenhouse gases and crumbling ice shelves. These dangerous inconvenient truths are sure to combust our planet to a fiery annihilation. Like a bheegibilli (a cat scared wet with fear) I am frightened of these unforgiving phenomena crippling our way of life on a delicate planet we call home, our only home. Certainly, we’ll be really so stupid if we didn’t do anything about global warming already.

What I mean to say is we need to figure out a way to radically remake the global economy that’ll prevent global temperatures from rising. It is possible to do that. Cutting our lifestyle needs by half and controlling the population of humans are two acts of faith that can be believed in as new beginnings for greater common good. Otherwise, there’d be nothing left for us to do business with. Now I am not fond of lecturing but that’s the truth, and the truth is always inconvenient to bear. Global warming is an inconvenient truth for those who think it isn’t. So much for the moral high horses-bourses: Wall Street, BSE, Nikkei and other stock market WMDs perpetuating Buy Sell, Buy Sell catcalls of plunder. All of these global stock market fucks are in bed with greenhouse gas-guzzling counterparts of the global warming deniers. Oh, fuck! What did I just say? Oh my god! Oh my god! So you want to lynch me now? Lynch me if you can. But the truth is always stranger than fiction, mind you. Nevertheless, it’s my last-ditch effort at living a modern life. Afterward, I may be attending God’s good humour party uninvited. I don’t know… I give up.

Living king size life directly contributes to an incorrigible global warming that we cannot roll back: not even to the point when, post liberalization of our economy, we gradually started to turn ourselves into a narrow-minded bunch of an addictive reptile-brained consumerist mall-hopping shopping rats, some kind of angry bird-loving misfits, and junk food spendthrifts. (There are always exceptions. Not all of us sane ones have become wide-eyed in-your-face individuals). Today, we buy more than we need; we eat more than we digest. Ultimately, all this sacrilegious practice is going to sound the gong of death knell for our beautiful blue planet as we know it. Earth time’s up. (God forbid not). If mankind doesn’t mend their often intentional blunders, Gods are bound to act by their Godly codex to send in their WMDs in the form of Global Warming, Climate Change, Sea Rise, Temperature Rise, you name it. Now, man up and deal with it. Let’s collectively mend our ways. We should, must, or else we are all dead. Am I yakking too much about a holier-than-thou attitude that I seem to have possessed? I don’t think so. But climate change is an obscene reality today. We must have set our Earth’s climate to the point of no return but it should not stop us from doing something to turn the tables on climate change. My personal ranting about it here may not seem irrelevant or not noteworthy as to be very important a distress call but still, we need to urgently think to save our mother Earth from becoming just another dead chunk of rock in the solar system. Think about it.

I think PUBLIC APATHY IS AN AILMENT OF THE SO-CALLED MODERN SOCIETY TODAY or why would anyone in his/her healthy mind, body and soul be not able to offer the humble aged passenger a seat to sit on? As I did not get a seat myself, I just stood there guiltily shifting my weight from one foot to another, getting really concerned, unable to move further up the aisle to try and ask someone to get up and let her sit. I was tortured by regret and unable to fathom why no one’s conscience is getting pricked. Where have their good morals gone? They’ve gone with the wind: of fake news, social media trolls, hate speech and an abusive crucifix of hashtags all tossed and lovingly tousled on a self-gratifying tourney to a land of twisted egos and self-important algorithms that changes colours out-performing even a Chameleon.

I know I’d be heckled, rebuked and shouted at for daring to ask someone to get up and let the woman sit, so I didn’t dare. I was stuck in the mute crowd of ‘modern’ people oblivious to the situation the elderly woman has found herself in, for no fault of hers. How people have shunned their morals for good, and they talk about getting jobs, wanting a nice new girlfriend and bragging about human rights as if it is their baap ka maal(their father’s property!). In a conjuring devil’s phraseology, these kinds of people run the risk of getting labelled as motherless fuckers but they won’t be ashamed. Even if they do fall to that level of culpable human indignity, they don’t think they will ever be ashamed of themselves; rather they’ll wear it as a batch of honour on their chest – rhino thick-skinned hides they lead their life in, being unmindful and uncaring of the old woman’s plight.

Modern Life Is Rubbish. It Sucks.

There are a number of issues in life that in some way compel you to start from scratch all over again to turn them back from worse. That’ll be a golden chance for you if such an opportunity comes by. To remedy some mistakes of your life is a different ballgame, probably a task best suited to procrastination. While there are some others you don’t get a chance to resurrect your earlier ills, you still feel the none-the-wiser about the ones you are bound to make. They (life’s issues) are too far gone into the inaccessible Past for you to be able to make amends. I confess I have had over the years my share of ups and downs (I call them issues), good and bad times, rights and wrongs, as far as ‘issues’ were concerned. If truth be told frankly, there have been quite a few I had had to tackle but failed miserably. That’s why I don’t think about them anymore. But they do manage to worry me from time to time.

Modern life sucks if it has to. It will by all means, but whose humanity is it anyway? Yes, ours. We are collectively together in it: in the Earth’s primordial soup. Pardon my use of such a language if you will; old habits die hard. Without an iota of doubt, in the ‘issues’ department modern life definitely sucks, fairly and squarely. It’s a Baadurer choshajibon! – A Bat’s suck life.

They say “post 9/11”, life in the supposedly ‘changed world’ continues to slipshod and promises to keep at it unabated. There’s no hope of resurrection. Only the ‘start-from-scratch-all-over-again’ decree prevails if you fall for it. Modern life is now modern death. On the one hand, to live one’s life in an increasingly shrinking post-truth world of modernity, particularly the terse drivel behind “You’re either with us or against us!”, “Advanced versus the third world,” and “Us versus them” intimidation sucks, and on the other death might be long-drawn but never quick. Dying multiple deaths is the new world order. It’s Kali Yuga; the nemesis of humankind is imminent. You don’t have to pack up, you’ll be sent packing! If it’s the end of morality then it is the end of humanity too.

While I understand that there will always be “issues” but… who cares? Get up and smell coffee. Modern life is such an unforgiving fancy mistress (or in some cases a courtesan! To each his own.). Either you get hitched or get restless without a girlfriend. Either way, you are doomed! What kind of attitude (positive?) will be adequately OK to deal with this preposterous thing called modern life? If you pay attention you’ll know that the basic inquiry still remains as it is: Will you be a game to conform to its intrigues and succumb to it, or agitate against it? Think about it. You might have an answer to that question. I never did. Never will. Unless, Mr. Kim retires from managing his country, Mr. Trump backs off… to his Tower, Islamic State (Isis) expunged from future history books and other such horrible disasters. Not to mention Iran, Iraq, Syria and the list goes on crooning an irredeemable tune of death and destruction.

Modern life is bound to be rubbish and I am acting as if I had never been kissed! Regardless of whether you like it or not, you are still living the so-called modern life and already kissing it goodbye for all you know. As things stand in my life now, I can’t be confident feeling that I am faring better than the most. Not by any stretch of the imagination. That’s not how I ought to feel about myself? That’s not normal for me. Why? Faring better than everyone is not my idea of living my life normally as well as judiciously, wisely even. I can’t fare better than others. Not my mug of coffee I hold to take a sip from. I am not a fool to suggest that I cannot fare better at all: I can but in my own sweet egoistical way, on my own terms. That sounds better to me. Yes, Dude, I don’t generally know better about modern life, others do, for the most part, I think. What I am mortally scared shit of is having to ‘start-from-scratch-all-over-again’ or “start-over-once-more” or getting back to square one (add GST to that, amen!); it really gets my goose not cooked but overcooked for my taste. My brain works!

If there’s a boon granted to me to live my life over again, I’d dare to make more mistakes, take more chances, take fewer things seriously, ride more merry-go-rounds, fall in love, be sillier than I have been this trip, eat more ice creams and more biryani, pick more daisies… but none that would contribute to global warming or climate change. Thank you very much for this one wild and precious life. Let me not go amiss from the actual topic we are discussing here. Old habits die hard indeed. A little more reading and you are done for good.

End Story

Morally bankrupt people opine that the modern world is a harsh place to live in, so bear with it. Maybe one of my friend’s ‘retractable claw’ theory and his eternal bachelorhood plans is one way to deal with the modern world. With no one to care for my friend, I’m afraid as days turn into months and months into years, his life is bound to get lonelier and lonelier in a world that sounds increasingly bankrupt of morality these days. But again, one man’s theory could be another man’s fury, so to each his own way of life. Yet, surviving the modern world is no less than a miracle if you ask me.

The poor old woman in the bus is one such depressing case which, I think, can be termed as an aberration of general moral bankruptcy on the part of some bus passengers who never cared two hoots about offering a seat for her to sit down. Holding the overhead post and leaning wearily against a median shaft, she had to keep standing for nearly 10 kilometres, good three-quarters of an hour all the way to the north of the city.

When the bus reached my stop, I felt a sigh of relief when I suddenly noticed that the young smartphone-wielding lass who all throughout the bus ride kept typing away on her phone vacated her seat, and that’s when the poor old woman who had to stand for nearly 10 kilometres took her chance to sit down. I am sure she must have thanked profusely not that carefree, unconcerned and immature lass but her merciful God for the much-needed relief in the form of a seat.

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