What I learned from the west...

Watching the wild west makes me wild.

As a child I love western themed movies, the wild, the rough, the scenic mountain ranges, the lush forests, the raging rivers, old towns, and the cowboys that roam these places with their valiant horses and blazing guns! I still love watching such movies, which means I now belong to an aging generation with a taste that can be dubbed as classical and even obsolete, and lo there can be truth to that side of the spectrum. For decades, the west refers to the modern civilized world – epitomized by the U.S. and Europe. That was when geography was not still mired with relativism. Today the term ‘west’ can refer to anything – but that is not the point of my discussion here.

For someone like me who belong to the so-called third world economy, America was a dream-land. I said ‘was’ because I have been there. Don’t get me wrong. I love this country, I have family and friends there, I benefited a lot working in its economic clout, I learned her language but I also lost a big part of my identity in the process. In the past, America stood tall as the paradise destination. Its ways and culture is much envied and even duplicated around the world, and this is where the confusion lay. I can become a citizen but I will never be an American to the core, if I will be honest to myself. So again – due to the theory of relativity of today, that can mean anything to anybody. So let me just pick one hot topic to convey one thing I have learned so far from the west.

Ok, what about reality shows? Some of us would say – it’s funny, amusing, entertaining, ambiguous, easy to relate with. Because of these, the base-mass of its following grew in leaps to a phenomenal proportion and other countries are integrating them to their local shows. The media, TV in particular had invaded every home in the planet that has access to electric energy – and this could be good but there is also a bad side of the story. So going back to reality shows; gone are the days when hosts, actors, actresses, or any personalities invited to shows for public viewing were carefully screened, where show contents were carefully scripted so as to conform to social, religious and/or moral protocols of the viewing public. With the advent of the internet – the landscape gradually changed into what we see today. In search for diminishing talents – the media opened the door for all to display their wares, wise or otherwise! This move catered to the craving of the common person – to promote self in any way possible without any social censure; so here we got our reality shows. Careful scripts are thrown out of the window, reality is the name of the show – as it is, social protocols, morals and good manners are consistently by-passed, ignored or totally violated by these reality guests or even the hosts. Practically anybody can promote him/herself via video on the internet (courtesy of you tube and the like), and there are no restrictions as to what content or appeal or audience it can reach. Free streaming scenes; some are graphic, some even obscene – all in the name of arts or freedom of expression! For what gratification can be obtained in a few moments of glory being watched by the world? You judge!

Bombarded day by day with so many scenes, most of which are ‘garbage’ if thoroughly scrutinized, what then can we expect from the younger generation who were fed with these incessantly? I find that this trend form some sort-of mental conditioning especially to the youth – to accept whatever idea they were exposed to; this further supports the principle of relativism which is prevalent today. The dividing line between what is not and what should be, was blurred and becoming obscure; the result is the absence of absolutes. Worst product of this kind of trend is gross disrespect to protocols as we often see on the news. The youth no longer ascribe to the usual tested norms, more and more are getting rebellious to any form of social or cultural system; in some ways they have lost their analytical ability. This again I suspect – is due to loss of moral absolutes. One factor is control. There is no such thing as total control but I find it amusing that – that is exactly what most of us want. We want to take total control to almost anything. Control is good at a certain degree, and we need to have it to survive and operate humanely. But to offer to unqualified people to publish anything with loose restrictions with almost no control, is courting chaos.

Schools have taught us to respect freedom; to assert our rights, to have access to privileges accorded by the state, to have a high esteem of self, to promote civility, to enjoy the fruits of our labours, and are duly supported by institutions we work for including the media. Though these traits are valuable, the means and the people by which these same values are promoted is what worry me. For example - gone are the days when public officials were selected for their competency to play the part. Today, a lot of leaders do not even know what to do, much less govern their constituents. Gold, guns and guts seemed to be the order of the day. If you have them, you got the lead. I do not blame any government for as far as I can see, they all operate on the same rule; they only vary in form and degree. Public governance and show business also is now a perfect blend; so I find it heart-wrenching that those people we hold in high esteem do not even deserve the title “honourable” - but that’s what we call them? This too is sort-of a reality show!

There we are, as long as we promote self, we promote greed – in all forms. This trait alone kills most other values our societies are craving to build. So we create our own reality show one way or the other – and we love it! This is one thing I learned from the west among others. It is sad, but I learned it and now I need to un-learn. For I see that we as a people, are degenerating! This is in total contrast to the belief on evolution (that society should be getting better) but that is a different subject altogether.

There is hope my friend; if you are willing to go back to the basics where truth and honesty prevails; where respect for God and men was practiced; where law and order were preserved by real honourable men; where love for country and neighbours outweigh financial gain; where leaderships were not compromised; where people were willing to walk the extra mile without cost. We still can do it, if we believe in the guidance of the Almighty and act responsibly. It’s not too late, but we need to act instead of just being glued to the four corners of your TV set. My ultimate question is – what then can I do to deserve these? Maybe we can start our own reality show.

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