This post is part of an ongoing (although intermittent) series of fictional chats between an architect and an intern in the architect’s Northern California studio.
A. You look and sound a little down today – are you OK?
I. I'm OK, but I am a little down. Sometimes I get a little depressed – I don’t know why. You always seem pretty even keeled. Does anything ever get you discouraged?
A. I have the responsibility of steering the ship, but sure, I have my low moments, sometimes entire periods.
I. I’d like to hear what could get under your skin. After all, I took a psychology class in junior college so I could probably pretty much straighten out anything that might be disturbing you.
A. I tend to see the big picture and I like to have a sense of what the end game will be like. Whether it’s making a drawing, designing a building, concluding one’s own life, or achieving some version of earthly sustainability.
I. Those last two words sound kind of serious and I know that you think about these things a lot. So are you pessimistic about humanity’s future?
A. Perhaps a little bit – I’m mostly disappointed in our collective inability to care about things beyond our immediate needs. Very few of us are truly concerned about our affect on the world around us – and certainly not enough to consider to what end that affect might lead. I’m thinking end game here.
When we are young and our hormones are at their maximum we are largely focused on our unfolding lives (and the opposite sex), but over time it becomes more apparent that ours is just one of countless lives striving to survive, human and non-human alike. So it’s a little depressing to see us denigrate other species just because we are presently on top. We are the lucky ones that evolved into this dominant state, but couldn’t we just as easily, or perhaps more easily, have been born Neanderthal, or porpoise, or reptile?
I. Taking a step back in time I suspect that most of us were not well rewarded when we entertained thoughts much beyond our own immediate gratification. Obviously, you are suggesting that things are different in the modern age, right?
A. Yes, I am. I don’t like our pervasive tendency to give no thought to tomorrow. Perhaps that’s OK if you’re just a pawn in the game, but otherwise it’s irresponsible. It’s like walking around with blinders on.
I. We all vote for what improves our immediate circumstance. Not what might or might not seem just or fair for the entire state or country. I don’t see that this is wrong. Who would you vote for?
A. I admire people with integrity and conviction, but I know of no politician that ever mentions the day after tomorrow. I see us digging a deeper and deeper hole and I think “shouldn’t we stop digging and consider where we’re going?” And I mean you consider because I already have a clear vision of where we’re going. We’re going towards less freedom and less resources for the masses, and if you’re not human you’re pretty much screwed.
I. Well, a human life is certainly more important than a dog’s, or a reptile’s.
A. When I was a boy my father told me about a worker who was part of his crew trimming trees for the city. A curious cat wandered by and he picked the cat up and tossed it into the wood chipper to see what would happen. It was over in a second. In a separate incident I read of a man who poured lighter fluid on a cocker spaniel and lit the dog on fire to see what would happen. I value these men’s lives somewhere south of zero.
I. Many believe that all human life is important and that is why we have institutions to help heal the misguided.
A. We do this at the expense of short-changing the innocent. Children afflicted with birth defects for example. And for that matter assisting those impaired doing hazardous jobs in our collective interest – wounded veterans, for example. I’m disappointed by our lack of thoughtfulness, personal responsibility, and compassion, and this makes me think back to all life and all resources on the planet.
I. This sounds like territory we’ve been to before…
A. That’s because all roads emanate from the core laws of Mother Nature and underscore how her bounty is divided up among the animals. As you may know all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others. Aren’t they?