I just finished listening to The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells (book on CD). It’s really got me thinking about our society. This book was first published in 1898. What strikes me is Wells’ commentary on humanity. It feels more like the story (aliens invading England) is a ‘prop’ in which to study human society. Who is man? What defines us a human? The writing seems so different from the media of today. Back then people actually studied man and thought about what defines us. I don’t think there are many people who do that anymore.
We still tell stories but the reverse has happened. Humanity has become the ‘prop’ to tell a thrilling story. We don’t ask ourselves what makes us human and what defines our society. I think we’ve actually lost a bit of our humanity. We have become desensitized to the human condition. We watch graphic news reports but we don’t stop to think “Who is that person being killed or maimed on our TV screens? He/she is a human being just like me. What would I feel, how would I react in that situation?”.
Mass media distracts us from ourselves.
And so I am challenged to think about who I am as a member of humanity. What false beliefs do I have about myself that drives my behavior, whether rational or irrational? What truly defines me as ‘human’, different from the rest of Creation? What defines our society? What values do we hold to, whether beneficial or destructive?
I’m also thinking that I should be reading more classic literature. It will challenge my thinking more than the media that’s thrown around today.