IB Suffering My mother is
My mother is a chemistry teacher at a Vestal High School. Like Binghamton, Vestal just started the International
Baccalaureate program at their school. Theory of Knowledge is a mandatory class for students
in the IB program. It's a wildly subjective class in which we ponder the certainty of knowledge from logical and emotional perspectives, and write about 'who I
am', et cetera. I enjoy the class a lot. Most of the people in the class think it is a monumental waste of time because we sit around discussing things that most people either didn't read or don't care about.
But I like to (hear myself) speak, so I give my opinion and shoot the shit with Ms. Davis a lot. It's interesting and relaxing. There are no tests, and we get to choose our grades (as long as we can justify them - no one as yet has gotten 100). And as an interesting aside, Ms. Davis originally introduced me to Kurt Vonnegut two years ago when she recommended Slaughter-House-5 to me, which I am currently reading again.
My mom, knowing how much I like the course, talked to the IB TOK teacher at Vestal and got all the books that they are reading for me. The more interesting ones were Flatland, a classic mathematics book about a hypothetical character (A. Square) who lives in two-dimensions (it was frequently referenced in Kaku's Hyperspace, one of my favorite books from middle school), and Thoreau's Walden, which I know very little about, but it is definitely on my (protracted) reading list.
Also, there is a non-fiction book that I'd never heard of called Why Things Bite Back by Edward Tenner. It's about ironies and frustrations of technology - such as how (American) football has become more dangerous than rugby since players started wearing pads, and how offices use more paper since the introduction of personal computers. (I got that from reading the back cover). Since I'm such a geek, I'll probably read it at some point, but it got me thinking about technology . . .
I often think about whether technology is a means to an end or merely an end in
itself. Inherent in my geekiness, perhaps, is the idea that technology is
cool and that just being around technology is enjoyable. For me,
technology can be an ends. But for many people it cannot. My mom,
for instance, gets frustrated when I download a new version of Outlook Express
and the user interface is unfamiliar. She only wants technology that can
improve other aspects of her life, such as her ability to communicate with other
high school chemistry teachers.
People who think technology is a panacea to society's and humanity's problems are
disillusioned. Any tool can be a weapon. In fact, most technology was originally used to destroy, rather than create. The key to solving suffering is not genetic
manipulation to grow rice more densely or better software to allow office workers to be more productive - that technology is easily developed when their is demand. The key to solving these problems is will. People must be willing to overtly work to improve the quality of the human condition.
Actually, I'm not really sure how to solve world suffering. People have been trying unsuccessfully for a long time. Maybe suffering is a fact of life.
So it goes.