November 22, 2020
The idea behind this piece of writing I am putting down here is that easy access to travel to far flung parts of the world is, or has been, readily available to most people in the developed world, and to many in many other parts of the world. And that this easy access to distant flights has made the world, at the least psychologically, smaller. This term ‘smaller’’ I shall be elaborating on further.
The other resultant psychological consequences of this distant travel availability I have never yet seen put down in print. In comment people have come close to beginningdoingso by having said the times we live in are a global age; but generally their thoughts go no further.
The consequences for the mind then.
Think about travel and its nature for people. One gets on, say a plane, and one is pretty confined into a small area, and for long hauls maybe for up to ten hours. The sky goes past the windows but few people, especially those used to air travel, spend much time of the flight, say, looking out and experiencing rather more the actual event of flight and travel. For nearly all passengers, it is the movie or their laptop or some other distraction and occupation which gets them through the waiting time imposed by the journey.
So, there is little awareness of the magnitude of the existential event of flight registering in most passengers’ minds. For quite a few people the waiting time being the actual travel of the flight is tedious, and if it were possible to be rid of it, it could go, they would say, without hesitation.
Hence one can say fairly, I believe, that having arrived, say on the other side of the world, the vastness of the distance and the scale of the travel has not been realised fully by many passengers. And the more often passengers have travelled by plane the more this lack of appreciation of the event of flight and distance impacts them. I think these are fair comments to be put forward.
Everyone is aware of the loss of frisson and of awareness of eventfulness which comes when any of us has done a certain deed or experienced a certain phenomenon many times over. Some are even aware of that need, when the experience which has eroded was recreational and pleasurable, for the experience to be ever more greatly intensified, so as for them to retain that original buzz which came in the first place. The road to addiction?
To some extent we are creatures of habit; and habit becomes very quickly what we’d call ‘second nature’.
So, the full understanding of what has happened, that say half the world has been traversed, is often not greatly appreciated in any living existential experiential way.
Frequency of flight for a person also accommodates them and their apprehensions of the experience to, as it were, just another means to an end; and it can become, I am sure, in the mind to be no more than were the same person taking a bus trip or a train ride. Almost negligible eventfulness.
I do know that in Barcelona, and I am assuming pretty surely in many other spas and watering holes like Barcelona, ex-pat communities of Britons, large and privileged communities, have heads of families who will, say, commute to London four days a week, and spend their extended weekends in Spain. This is by them considered normal; absolutely so. Musicians attached to orchestras, ballet companies and many other walks of life travel the world constantly in normal times (of the past) and are rarely in one city more than a few days or weeks at a time. Business people, in the name of business, travel also long distances all the time, and take plane journeys just like crossing the road.
Politicians and professionals also do likewise.
In short, all or most of the people whose opinions are heard by government, or who in fact govern things, see this earth, as it were, to be a ‘shrinking’ world, and so tend to suffer this lack of wonder and vividness in having taken to flight to arrive at distant destinations.
Then there are the perpetual holiday-makers, many of them; whose aim might be to ‘collect’ places, cities, beaches, festivals, like a schoolboy collects stamps or stickers. Cruises and flights they use commonly, and the sense of being on the water s of a great ocean, or in the lofty sky, dissolves into enjoyment of the entertainment facilities on and below decks, or into passing time with a movie or two in mid-air.
So, what does this signify?
This lack of existential appreciation of the eventfulness of air travel, I believe has to take away from the understanding and awareness in travellers of the enigmatical geographic destinations to which they come and arrive at. Far away places themselves become less exotic to the mind, less psychologically distant from home, and perhaps at worst, become just another strange interesting place casually to look around in, or maybe just another beach with hotel, croupier, and pools?
Being alive I am arguing, is not necessarily about having access to free time or to a job or a profession which allows a person to travel the world, or to commute from distant places, etc and so use the geographical globe as one’s ‘oyster’. Being alive is a state of mind unconnected with outside circumstances; and what goes for ‘being alive’ in the commonplace way of things often is nothing more than an alleviation of the tedium, or else exploiting of the technology we have to use the planet as a plain resource.
On the contrary, the fact is that these technologies for our use, which are able to get us to The Amazon or Zaire at the click of a mouse on a holiday booking site , they if anything are likely to rather diminish any sense of life as being a constant special existential phenomenon. It was Shakespeare’s Hamlet who said:
“I could be bounded in a nutshell and count myself a king of infinite space...”
It was John Milton who wrote:
“The mind is its own place and it can make
A hell of heaven or a heaven of hell”
Shakespeare himself was aware of the great capabilities of the thinking mind and its imagination; how such faculties in men and women were able to utterly lift them out of themselves and in a strange way ‘place them there’ at Agincourt, at Elsinore, at Dunsinane, and ‘with’ Harry, Hamlet and Macbeth.
So, is there anything further to say than that merely flights, and many and distant travels, are not necessarily able to bring one to awareness of the ineffable glory of life?
Yes. There are the consequences for our attitudes towards one another and to the planet itself. Such travels as are ours around the globe cannot but inure our opinions deeper in considering lazilyit is not the case that “The earth is The Lord’s and all the things upon it” as the Psalm tells us; but instead we are ever more prone to think and feel that this earth is mankind’s to do with as s/he pleases. And because it is true that even the devil can quote scripture we often make our justification for an almost nonchalant expectation for exploitation, words taken from The Book of Genesis. We are fortified by the wrongful argument that - if you believe in God, He says in The Book of Genesis that ‘man shall subdue to his will every creeping thing and all the beasts of the field etc etc’
One has to recall for this argument to be fully understood that man’s will here is by her/him to be voluntarily subdued, surrendered to, the will of God. Only when this truly has been achieved are all the treasures and creatures of the earth available to be exploited and subdued by man. Only when this is truly achieved, then will notany man or woman so blessed, cannot, shall not, and would forbid, her/himself going at earth’s resources like as they were game show prizes and up for grabs.
But we in our day in our nation have lost sight of The Book of Genesis and of God’s provision and conditions for us to lead the good life which He offers to us. For us air travel has become largely humdrum, many distant places have become mere normal expectations and not a privilege to visit them; the world has grown smaller to our apprehensions; and the ultimate result is that we believe we are now rightful masters of it.
Items like widely available prolific air travel have sped on this jumping in our minds to false conclusions. We tend to think that because ‘we have the technology’ we are ‘in charge’, and that therefore we can simply subdue nature to any shape or form that we will.
God is an inconvenience to our clouded understandings, because he asks for conditions from us; He puts riders on this assumption of the earth being our plaything; riders which when accepted and used by us, severely, radically, change for the better our understandings and behaviours. But no, instead much of our media and our government and our business people are all working at jettisoning God from our considerations. He gets in the way of us making money – for making money’s sake.
The place of God, central in each of our lives whether or not we try to exclude Him, is not affected or altered by what we think of Him. He is there, yesterday, today and forever, to be our Guide and Helper, our Loving Father; and by our attempting to jettison Him we are denying ourselves of His Help and Guidance and Love. Are rebellious Prodigals. In such a way we are hurting only ourselves; and God mourns for our tenacity of resistance against His free offer of Love.
There has been, and only of late curtailed somewhat because of Covid worries, a ferocious relentless rape of the earth and of its resources and creatures. Among these despoliations has been air travel. The category of creatures includes people, since how might anyone bear a proper outlook upon other people when within oneself are present disbelief, and even antagonisms , some being towards God himself. And others towards people. Antagonisms which can only be resolved by their proper placement before God in prayer, asking for their forgiveness, and Him giving us the gift of His peace?
Whenever disbeliefis ascendant, convenience for ourselves becomes a crucial criterion in our lives; and concomitant with this seeking ever for greater convenience comes ever more a sense of plain ordinariness about being ourselves in a world seen also as tawdry plain, and there for the usage.
There arises an habitual and familiar nonchalant easiness tending towards neglect, and this pervades our views of the world, of our lives, and of our whole being, doing, and thought.
Our sense of value itself begins to pall inside us – see how we throw away items still which are precious and have much good use; and simply because we are tired of them. In some sense we have thrown in the same vein away our sense of wonder and astonishment, our joy in our having been gifted an offer of greater awareness - of our wondrous existential being, and of a holy fear at its inexplicable miraculous nature.
A flight from reality?