At the insistence of my friend, I started to read Animal Farm a few weeks ago. It’s actually a much quicker read than I had thought. I’m about 75% through but the story-line seems to be familiar. I am not very motivated to finish it. Though the story can be said to be a generalized story of totalitarian take-over, it mostly reminds me of the story of Mao Zedong. The character Napoleon and his actions are almost identical to Mao. George Orwell’s use of animals perfectly captures the fact that all humans are not born equal. The diversity of our skills and ability are as diverse as the different animals. Some are quicker in intellect like the pigs, some are better built for hard manual labor like the cattle. Some are wise and cynical like the donkey and some are pacified by the sweet comforts of materialistic life like one of the horses. Some form of power and domination is only natural. Therefore, it is important to built institutions that protect everyone’s interests. A stable balance or equilibrium is necessary for the wellbeing and productivity of society at-large.
Do you ever feel like once your semi-friends go onto the next level to become your good friends, there is a new void? It seems like having a good crew of semi-friends is necessary too. They are the ones that semi-interest you and yet you have not developed the bond to feel genuine care for their well-being. They are almost like hook-up buddies in friend-form. Sometimes these friendships are refreshingly low-stress and are a good outlet when you need to release some frustration. Sometimes it gets hard to convey your frustrations in life with your bests because they are overly concerned and overly sympathetic for you.
Perhaps it is time to take an adventure. An adventure, far, far away. The Mongolian grasslands are calling my name. I’d like to visit Inner Mongolia and experience the hybrid Mongolia-Han Chinese culture there. In addition to the grasslands, desert, and cities, I want to see the rural farming villages there. Perhaps, I sound too first world, but I’d like to study the poverty and simple life there. I hope to meet farmers who were previously nomads. I wonder what kind of transition that must be!
It is interesting to me, how our species used to lead nomadic and hunter-gatherer lives and yet today, it seems like much of our values centers around settling down with a family and a source of income. The agricultural revolution happened and we decided that settling down on farms and domesticating livestock was more efficient and productive. Then, the industrial revolutions happened and we decided that settling down in cities and working in factories and service sectors was more efficient and productive. Then, the information or internet revolution happened and we decided that settling down in our houses and working virtually was more efficient and productive. Today, we have virtual video conferences, online shopping, and everything else that was unimaginable just a few decades ago.
The pace of life only continues to grow even as we live longer lives. Every day is a race of being more productive and efficient. Everyone tries to find that niche that they have THE comparative advantage in and specialize to become the THE most competitive in the race.
What kind of quality of life is this?
Every year, we are increasingly sedentary. Humans, we are too full of ourselves as a species. We think we can create everything, manipulate everything around us and make it better. We think that with our science, we can just alter or make food, more efficiently than natural foods. Why is obesity and clogged blood vessels such a big problem in the United States? It is because we are too full of ourselves. We think manufactured plastic foods are as good as natural food and is even cheaper. We think our medical science can cure almost anything. We are snobs and think that our way is the only way.
Anyway, I think there is beauty to be found in a nomadic lifestyle that can help us all get away from the meaningless life-long race. At each milestone of human advancement, we think of our qualities of life improving, we dream of more time for leisure and to spend with family. Instead, what we find is that everyone is only running faster and training harder in the race. Leisure gets more expensive when returns to productivity are higher.