Friday, May 19, 2006

... relativity

i have a soft spot in my heart for shlocky films. one of my favourite movies is deep blue sea and the reason it's one of my favourites is one single scene. samuel l. jackson's character is holding forth on how bad people can get when the chips are down, and how backbiting, infighting and the blame game hinders you from actually doing somethign to resolve the dilemma you face. (vague, i know, but if you haven't seen it you may want to.) then he takes control of the decision making and promptly gets eaten by a shark that jumps out of the wet-entry dive pool at the bottom fo the underwater research station the film is set in. (one can only be so vague when making a point...)

i love that scene. there is another scene i like for its definition of relativity. l.l. cool j. has a line where he says something like, "put your hand on a hot pan and a second can seem like an hour... put your hands on a hot woman and an hour can seem like a second".

last night we were looking at acts 2:42-47, considering how the early church, immediately after pentecost and full of the joy of the Spirit and the gospel and their newly-found salvation, had everything in common, sold what they had and gave to others as they had need.

now i'm sure people haven't felt that life has got any less busy. many of our grandparents might say we've got it easy, while a few more cynical ones might say they wouldn't trade places with us for all the tea in china! what i do think has changed is the kind of society we're living in. first-century jerusalem had very different welfare systems in place than we have today. they were called "children", for the most part, and people often had a lot of them to build up their support network for their autumn years, when they could no longer work with their hands to provide for themselves but weren't yet ready to give up the ghost. nowadays we have "superannuation" and "retirement" and "pension". these support the individual who has been paying into them for however many working years, or as a recognition of the contribution they've made to society (although pensions seem to be becoming fewer and less supportive as time goes by).

i really feel that this drive towards providing for ourselves has left us bereft of a lot of the beneficial side-effects (the undocumented features, if you will) of a family-based or village-based, namely that in a society where everyone looks after everyone else everyone is (ideally) cared for somehow. children are watched because everyone has children and they're the future of the family/village and so it's in the family/village's best interests to look after them, and if you're around when they need looking after, that's what you do. when i was growing up, we hung out next door until my parents came home from work or tafe or wherever they were, and our neighbours' kids hung out at our place for the same reason.

i don't know how much of this looking out for one another happens around childcare centres or schools anymore. mums used to congregate at the gates, walking bunches of kids home and dropping them off one after another at the houses until they arrived at their own houses. does that still happen? how many kids go straight to after-school care? or tutoring (which a cynical person could call clayton's after-school care)?

if you know me, you know where i think this leads. two parents both working to pay off a mortgage to live in a house with kids they're disconnected from and spend more time watching tv with than talking to.

6 Comments:

At May 19, 2006 2:05 pm , Anonymous swellen said...

I agree for the most part, but I think it's a bit starry-eyed to believe that there has ever been a village/community type scenario that looked after people properly. If people look after the kids, for example, because they are the future of the society, what happens to the members of society who can't make any valuable contribution? It's not really in anyone's interest to care for them.

Having said that, it makes me sick that a simple thing like offering to make a meal for someone when they're sick or stressed is greeted with the kind of gratitude that should be reserved for receiving a donor kidney. Are we such an uncaring society that a tiny thing like that becomes a huge huge deal? So sad.

 
At May 19, 2006 2:12 pm , Blogger dr maya vale said...

well, we're not eskimos and i don't think they leave people out on the ice anymore...

 
At May 19, 2006 2:47 pm , Anonymous swellen said...

No, we're not (although you'd probably love the weather if you were an eskimo!)... but lonely, old people still die at home and aren't discovered for weeks. (Or, as Helen Fielding put it in Bridget Jones's Diary, are "discovered 6 weeks later, half eaten by an alsation".) :-) Perhaps I'm just cynical, but I don't know that we have it in us to create a society that cares for people the way we should. That's not to say we couldn't make the effort to be a lot better.

I don't know... maybe I just want to cover all my bases by trying to be like Jesus AND contributing to my superannuation fund!

 
At May 19, 2006 11:59 pm , Anonymous your sister said...

the problem isn't that people don't care, but people are afraid of putting themselves on the line. too many others have negative opinions of those who try to do right by others, too many people take advantage, and we live in a society which is raising it's children without a social conscience. you want people to care? get them to take responsibility for themselves and then they will start to think of others.
also, your last sentence, was that meant to be a dig at your childhood, because I don't remember it that way...

 
At May 20, 2006 11:29 pm , Blogger dr maya vale said...

no dig, just observation of people. sometimes c'est seulement un pipe...

 
At May 21, 2006 11:06 pm , Anonymous your sister said...

huh?

 

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