LIVING WITH THE SURPLUS

In the ‘golden’ olden days we were less worried. One may not agree with this statement. One may argue, ‘golden’ olden days were not that golden. Let us not get into this argument and accept that we were less worried in the olden days because we were more content. Our coefficient of satisfaction was higher in the good old days because we believed in minimalism. Subsistence satisfied us. There were fewer desires to fulfil, and we also entertained fewer new desires. Means to fulfil the desires were also limited. Most things were not in surplus; hence, we did not go haywire over our desires. We needed less control to contain ourselves. The problem is that we all like to have surplus, but most of us don’t know how to deal with it. Today we live in a networked world. Our surroundings affects us deeply. Our health, happiness, loneliness, depression, among other things are dependent upon our biology, choices and actions. Our behaviour is dependent on the environment that surrounds us. Our geographic proximity matters. Besides family, influential social relationships matter.

Studies indicate that a network-based vaccination campaign is more cost-effective than a campaign that aims for universal vaccination. Studies indicate, more than half of the poor and the discriminated lot believe in “HIV conspiracy”. They believe that “there is a cure for AIDS, but it is being withheld from the poor.” They think, “people who take the new medicines for HIV are guinea pigs for the government.” This belief has grown out of their belief that society has been neglecting them for years. It has made them suspicious about medical treatments, and that includes unethical practices in the medical system. We are observing a disturbing trend. “Soon no one will be more or less knowledgeable than anyone else.” Al will become knowledge tourists. Slowly we will forget respecting the ground rules. We will have much less to say despite our extraordinary experience.

How we see the world depends upon what we believe. Our believing brain looks for patterns, and these patterns are responsible to shape our understanding. Our brains tend to ignore information that contradicts our beliefs. Our believing brain finds meaning and patterns even where there are none. Seeing also dictates our belief system. It is common sense that something can survive only if it can prove its worth. Living with the surplus can be disturbing if one doesn’t know what to do with the ‘extra’.