Wednesday, October 2, 2019

We are Bound to Others...

"If you think you know who you are, you've no idea."
- Sgt John Ryan, in 'Crash'

Every time I'm asked to name my top favorite movies, my listing invariably starts with the following:
  • Cloud Atlas.
  • Crash (2004 release).
What's common in these movies is that they seek to explore a better understanding of human behavior, particularly how we relate to each other in times of great anguish or crisis situations.

In addition, how we treat others if and when we are in a position of advantage compared to them.

* * *

The Butterfly Effect

In chaos theory, the butterfly effect explains how very little changes in initial conditions can create significantly different outcomes in complex systems. In other words, seemingly inconsequential things can result in vastly altered situations in places and times that may not be immediately easy to relate or connect.

"Our lives are not our own,
From womb to tomb, we are bound to others,
Past and present.
And by each crime and every kindness,
We birth our future."
- Somni 451, in Cloud Atlas.

There is another concept that hinges on social connections to show how we are largely connected to others. It is called the six degrees of separation.

Consider this recent happening in Kenya that was quite tragic:

6 days from today last year, a bus operated by Western Cross Express Company Ltd was involved in a road accident that resulted in 58 fatalities and shattered many lives thanks to serious injuries suffered by those who survived.

The bus, christened "Homeboyz" was being driven by one Lucas "Abdallah" Asang'asa, a 72 year old man.

From media reports and the investigations that followed, it emerged that various instances of negligence and blatant disregard of the law led to that horrific accident.

It is not possible to point out exactly what caused the accident itself, but a number of things such as having excess passengers, an elderly driver working many hours sans rest and driving long distances, vehicle defects, or a failure by traffic police on roadblocks to do a proper inspection of the bus and the passengers therein.
Apparently, the driver himself had also complained that the bus had faulty brakes.

Many factors, some seemingly harmless, all contributed to this terrible tragedy.

Granted, not all social connections are tragic. Here is an embarrassing, yet fun way to illustrate the same concept:

In essence, we have this nauseating habit of assuming that people we engage and interact with today will still be in the exact same situations in the future.
And all too often, we get to be reminded that these same people can be something very different the next time we meet then, sooner or later.

Meditations in an Emergency

My current writing project is anchored on this very premise - that we are connected to others and our thoughts, words and deeds always have an effect on others in addition to ourselves.

The Meditations in an Emergency book will tackle often-difficult-to-talk-about-subjects and hopefully elicit dialogue and action on those things that affect us, yet remain unattended.

* * *

I recently read a comment on this YouTube video, about humans having an amazing ability to underestimate non-immediate threats. We get very concerned and display shameless outrage porn at things that are both current and highly visible. Some even profit from rage. It happens to be quite easy to see and share loud and popular opinions on such things as fire on a mountain.
But you gotta wonder, do we ever have conversations with ourselves?


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