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Stan’s Stuff

A shrink-wrap world to consider – It’s not going to happen – It has happened already

In the coal mining town I lived in, there were three hostels for men. The up-market one was the Staff Mess. I lived in one of the workers hostels, but on weekends I could visit the Staff Mess.
 |  Stan Stewart  | 

It seemed to me that the engineers and accountants who lived in the Staff Mess had two major interests. One was scantily clad girls with big boobs whose pictures adorned the doors of their rooms. The other was classical music.

At one time, the men in the dorm were obsessed with Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture. At its climax this piece includes a volley of cannon fire. My friends were fixated on hearing the cannon volley with absolute, gut-shaking realism.

To achieve this resonance, they fixed large cone speakers into solid wooden surrounds. In pursuit of this music-you-can-feel goal, one of the residents installed huge speakers into a huge box he lined with concrete.

These days I listen to classical music on my iPhone. I’ve seen an iPhone without its case and there is nothing inside that looks slightly like a speaker.

My previous understanding of how music is replayed through electronic devices is obviously well out of date. Monstrous wooden boxes are being replaced by pocket-sized tiles. That’s true with a myriad of other developments.

Truthfully, I have trouble keeping up with the changes in the world, the wider world, and my world. But I keep going to the trouble of trying to keep up and understand.

I know a family in Australia who have phone contact with their relatives in Asia for at least two hours every day. They prop their phone up on the kitchen bench and go about their chores shouting towards the phone as they move around. Their loved two-year-old grandson in Asia does the same. I think he believes his relatives are next door. But the cousin and aunty he is talking to are 5000 kilometres away. This miraculous communication costs them nothing. It is free. And what’s next? AI (Artificial intelligence) bears down on us with the speed of a bullet train.

The Coromandel is no longer a quiet, hideaway. Like it or not, we are part of this shrink-wrapped world. The people of the world are on our devices, just waiting for us to pick up. Certainly, we can choose to live without devices, but this is a choice most of us won’t make.

I think of our young Scottish friend now living on the Coromandel. She tells me that she now has more contact with her family scattered across the British Isles than she had when she was living in the UK. This is good and bad. Now she finds herself embroiled in family disputes from which she would have ben insulated with the long distances. Her world, our world, has been shrink-wrapped.

In this shrink-wrapped world, the number of grumpy and hostile people seems to be increasing. It’s noticeable here in beautiful New Zealand and nightly news shows us angry people from around the world. Many are in tragic circumstances, but quite a few are simply on-the-street clips of persons sounding off about this and that. Social media is an expanded platform for grumpy, angry people to use, – and they do. I have heard movers and shakers of public opinion say the situation is getting worse. The ones they find most annoying are from people who insist on being ‘anonymous”. One news person told me, ‘I just hang up on anonymous callers’.

So here we are in 2024. This is our shrink-wrapped world. What do we do? Step aside and let the negative shouters have their way?

My mind’s been circling back to a small poem attributed to Mother Teresa. I note that this is disputed but for me, what is beyond dispute is the truth of these words.

People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered. Forgive them anyway. If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Be kind anyway. If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies. Succeed anyway. If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you. Be honest and sincere anyway. What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight. Create anyway. If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous. Be happy anyway. The good you do today, will often be forgotten. Do good anyway. Give the best you have, and it will never be enough. Give your best anyway. In the final analysis, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway. *Reputably – This poem was found written on the wall in Mother Teresa’s home for children in Calcutta.