There was a time when we went for the biggest, in a mania fuelled by books of superlative records — biggest flag, tallest pole, giant ketupat even, highest towers.
Some, like celebrities, merely strive to become famous for being famous, and our children fall head over heels in love with them and strive to be like them, too.
And so are we all, in this hunt for the snark, using a road map that is no more than a blank piece of paper. As it is that time of year now, I shall not shirk from my responsibility to make a resolution, even if I am a known breaker of them.
Yes, I made a resolution last year to make no more resolutions. So, true to form, I shall break even that one and continue anew, to make yet another this year, for moderation in myself and other people.
It is the one quality that is slowly fading from sight in this terabyte-sized, hypersonic speed, fast-hurtling into the meaningless void kind of a world.
Do you get the feeling nowadays that being tall isn’t tall enough because there’s another country with the tallest tower, being rich isn’t rich enough because there’s another man in China who is richer, being a seller of things isn’t good enough even if it has earned you a comfortable living and provided jobs for a gaggle of people because there’s another guy on the other side of the globe who’s outselling you all?
Look at how the rich have become super billionaires with more than enough money to buy a cup a tea and a slice of cake for everyone in the world. But do they? No, they are too busy looking and safeguarding their shares so they don’t go into freefall.
We have 20 varieties of cheese in the supermarket, fruits flown in at all seasons from the other side of this sphere, bananas straight from the tree (yes, I mean that, straight ones only, thank you), tomatoes without blemishes and piles of seeds grown for a pittance for us in impoverished parts of the world.
And then we have a charge-the-customer-for-plastic-bags day in an empty gesture to save the world. Nowadays, just being good isn’t good enough; we must be better, higher, taller, richer.
This is an ever-looking-at-the-top kind of world. People craning their necks to see the tip of the long pole while forgetting that there’s a couple of underpaid men painting the rise from the top to the part that is sunk in clay.
That tallest edifice that you have to visit before you die was built by hundreds of poorly paid workers who have left wives and children in the wild, whose parents — some of them — have sacrificed their lives in the building of that showpiece, often meaningless, human endeavour.
That is the price that we — the entire world, not just us at the local level — pay for this new gleaming show.
The world made safe for the wealthiest, the most ruthless derivative traders because we are in awe of young lads and lasses who have made unbelievable piles.
We have allowed basic commodity prices to soar beyond the reach of the starving and the poor because we are proud of our economy of traders who trade grains without ever seeing them, never mind the owning of warehouses to store their made-up wheat, or sorghum, rice or sunflower oil.
We are now all living in a world twinkling with pixie dust but which is still, nevertheless, a make-believe world. This world is overpopulated?
Why, let the population dwindle — by war, by famine, by natural wastage — and then the population will find its own sustainable level.
That sustainable part will, of course be the richer half that is standing by to gobble whatever is left behind by folk who have given up the ghost in trying to make sense of their paltry everyday squalor.
Man must of course strive for the highest reaches possible — a truth that is espoused by those who think that they have the right to be rich as rich can be.
Do you know who the real philanthropists are in this world, asked American author Barbara Ehrenreich.
They are those who work for minimum wages, often less than so, waiting at tables, working on construction sites, striving in raw heat in fields, so that people with money can enjoy a decently priced meal in restaurants in plush capitals.
So they can wear clothes with designer labels whose “designers” make bigger killings than those who break their backs in cotton fields and those who strain their eyes to sew the cuts and print the labels and stuff them neatly into designer boxes for brightly lit shops manned by young people who thank you for the transfer from your cards and wish you have a good day.
How much of the wealth of the world now do you think is owned by the wealthiest one per cent?
The inequity is moving even more in favour of the rich, and Oxfam predicts that in this coming year, that one per cent will be raking in more than the rest of us combined, while one in nine of us will not have enough to eat and more than a billion will earn just over US$1 a day.
Time to move now towards moderation, don’t you think?
Time for the so-called advanced super powers to think of moving back to a more equitable world, something they can do without bombing and droning people into submission and creating more mess and bloody puddles everywhere they go. Wan A Hulaimi The NST Columnist 27 December 2015 @ 11:00 AM