Age hit me the other day. To be precise it hit my right hamstring. It was cold and I got up too quickly. These were the words of old men, who I have mocked remorselessly over the years, coming from the mouth of a babe (here I mean it in the child sense); or one who use to be a babe. Now age gnaws at me in winter, an ever present reminder that after the heady immortality of youth, I grow old and wither on the vine.
Yet there are several great upsides to this changing of seasons. I get to wear tweed, spend a quiet night at home with a port and a good book, shunning the strobe lights and shoddy DJ’ing at the local club. I also have the privilege and delight of making comments like ‘for those of you old enough to remember…’. Or in the more jocular words of the inimitable Stephen Fry: ‘for those of my age, weight and shoe size’. Thankfully weight has not yet become an issue. Lamentably my weight remains as constant and low as my bank account. But I seem to be nesting in a sub argument. So let us return to age and its upside, remembrance.
Simon Schama wrote ‘history is a living instruction, or it is nothing. Not a spare time luxury, but a requirement of informed citizenship’. History, both recent and ancient, holds the key to who we are and is a powerful tool to explain why. Throughout the narrative of our world, there is the ever present aspect of evil. Evil has taken many shapes and many forms in its long and ignoble history. My father knows its most recent history well and fought it during the Second World War, when the hordes of Nazi ideology ran over the face of the earth. He, and millions like him, fought to make a ‘better’ world. But when he sees the massacre of civilians in ongoing wars, the bombing of markets and state sanctioned genocides, he does wonder if it made that much of a difference. But when he sees headlines like ‘5 Things Apple Must Do to Look Less Evil’ he knows it did make a difference.
That some people believe they are under oppressive censorship because their news app is at the mercy of ‘notoriously temperamental App Store reviewers’ it is a better world. For many censorship is being dragged from their home in the middle of the night and beaten to death.
That some believe the biggest problem is that App store rules are not published, causing developers to censor themselves, hurting innovation and generating conformity, it is a better world. For some unpublished rules make their very existence a crime. See police take them to a place of execution or force them to languish in prison for nothing more than having been brought into this world.
Life is far from perfect. But for some of us it is a far, far better place than it ever has been. We have the wonders of medical science to improve our physical being. We have nearly unbridled access to other peoples thoughts, lifting our consciousness to new heights. For some of us it is an amazing place. And if some of us labored as ceaselessly toward helping the lives of others as we spend complaining about our own lot. If we took as much responsibility as we do care. If we realized we are given gifts and resources not just for our own enrichment, but so that we have the power to help others. We stand a chance of creating a better world for all, not just for some.
In the final analysis does it matter if Apple is less ‘evil’ in the greater context of the world? For me it does, because it shows that in some sunny corner of the globe, triviality has vanquished genuine suffering. In such places it is a better world.