Just as each of us is capable of choosing integrity and a life of presence we are also equally able to choose complacency and indifference. There is inside us the ability to sacrifice our individuality to the humdrum of ‘normalcy’, automate our lives according to complex schedules and roles, and convince ourselves of the utility in becoming like everyone else. This sacrifice of our self-determination might make our cities more efficient and well managed but will it make us more human?
In the movie Waking Life two random people collide in a stairwell but instead of muttering an apology and going on their way they challenge expectations to keep things moving quickly and stop to have a conversation:
“I don’t want to be an ant, you know? I mean, it’s like we go through life with our antennas bouncing off one another, continuously on ant auto-pilot with nothing really human required of us. Stop. Go. Walk here. Drive there. All action basically for survival. All communication simply to keep this ant colony buzzing along in an efficient polite manner. “Here’s your change.” “Paper or plastic?” “Credit or debit?” “You want ketchup with that?” I don’t want a straw, I want real human moments. I want to see you. I want you to see me. I don’t want to give that up. I don’t want to be an ant, you know?”
Waking Life, 2001
We are not ants, we can resist, we do not have to give up our humanity and the search for moral integrity just to unthinkingly labour at maintaining structures that prevent our freedom and the free expression of others. So, do you want to be an ant or do you want real human moments?