Convenience now pervades every part of our life and lifestyle. Ready-made meals popped into the microwave, and two-minute noodles for children of parents too busy to cook. Computer programmes that do the spellcheck and math for us, making us mentally careless. Photoshop that allows me to make a perfect picture after having taken it, rather than use my brain and instincts during the shot. If I’m a pilgrim to a holy Himalayan site, I no longer want to walk up (was such effort not supposed to be intrinsic to the path to salvation?). I demand motorable roads.
So what? Is it not good that we can do more with less effort? Does it not help us save time that can be devoted to other activities?
Imagine if cyclists, craftspersons, people living simple lives, and those willing to give their time and products freely were the role models in our schools… not the celebrities whose glitzy lifestyles fill the media? Imagine if learning and education systems focused on the dignity of labour, the pleasure of doing something with one’s hands, the thrill of seeing someone else happy, the visceral feeling of being within nature? Would it then not be possible to bring out the selfless, caring streak in us while retaining our own interests, a sort of responsible individualism? Would we then not create processes of social regulation of technologies, frowning on those that increase inequities and ecological havoc? As we move towards a greater sense of planetary oneness (sharpened by the very visible signs of climate and ecological distress the earth is in), these messages may well be heard more widely. We may then face up to the fact that convenience without bounds will create an extremely inconvenient future for all of us.