Soundbite painting X


Enamel paint on canvas

25.6 x 20.6cm

To err is human, this we know. Mistakes may be forgiven, indefinitely perhaps, at the discretion of the wronged party, but at some point repetition of misbehaviour must be questioned. I believe we all do things we're aware are wrong. Most are simple and of little apparent consequence, but not all. Privately at least, I dare say we all know we're guilty.

Why is this? Well, I believe we are encouraged to do wrong. The society we have crafted at best normalises misbehaviour, but often venerates the pursuit of our worst impulses. Competition, dominance, excess, self agrandisement - all urges that pit us against one another and all presented as aspirational qualities. Unity, self sacrifice, charity, humility and such - virtues that so we sorely require - are of no interest. Indeed, they are considered a threat to the Society of Conflict we are entombed in.

And it is easy to maintain because it appeals to all our base needs. Compete to survive is the message ancient instinct delivers to us all day, every day, and it is evident in all we do - increasing our earnings, eating more food, improving our social standing, appearing more attractive and so on. All that is required is for those who benefit from our perpetual competition to feed our most fundamental, unconscious urges back to us as life goals. The outcome is a society and a species whose instinct to survive has been turned against them to the point that it threatens their very existence.

What can be done? I have few answers. To identify a problem is not to solve it and of course I am no less of a slave to my genes than anyone else. All we can do is try to better understand the situation and the messages we are fed by brain and billboard. Then, where we can, we improve our behaviour. We are the only species on the planet who must subdue their survival instincts to survive and the only species conscious and capable of doing so. Knowing this then, surely we must try.