I have had the luck of being born into a Western culture, being raised by it, and later realizing how it subtly debilitates people by severely interrupting the natural sensory ability.
Why does the prejudice of ‘westernism’ or ‘scientism’ or ‘technologism’ stick out so much for me? Because underneath the self-congratulatory intellectual view and the great pride that an educated 21st century mind takes in itself, there is a condition similar to sensory deprivation. I know it very well because when I was growing up and being trained to think like a self-respecting modern intellectual, I believed my teachers. It took me years to go back to the normal state of a human being, the state that has nothing to do with any particular belief system or religion. It simply is a state where senses are more open.
There are lucky people who were raised in not-so-intellectual cultures. You can recognize them by the facial expression. Me, I went through the same grinder as most of my friends. I was taught to pay homage to linear logic, to excel in remembering facts and to impress my peers with my ability to reason (all good skills, undoubtedly – but only for certain applications). I was taught to take it for granted that we, the educated, rational people of the materialist Western tradition (regardless of the ethnicity and the color of one’s toes – identity politics has nothing to do with it so don’t even try), are the pinnacle of everything. And that success is measured by how many living beings are under our boots.
It can be a soothing thought, except, all those things cannot be internalized without sensory deprivation. The latter is like a bulldozer. It is not possible for a newly born human being to believe in the supremacy of ‘reasonable,’ intellectual, logical approach to everything unless they have been hit with a metaphorical bag of bricks on the head at a very young age. One has to be subjected to the grinder in order to accept this world view, and that is exactly what happens! There is a reason why ‘lasting happiness’ is perceived to be an evasive, theoretical goal in our culture. There is a reason why various ‘gurus’ who teach people to be ‘happy’ by preaching at them, are charlatans. They are charlatans because they are trying to bake a cake by writing letters on the wall, if this metaphor makes sense.
Furthermore, debating this intellectually is impossible. Stealing another metaphor from the Buddhist smartasses, it is impossible to explain the meaning of ‘sweet taste’ to somebody who has never tasted it, using words only.
Since I come from the world that doesn’t trust the sensory richness and ridicules any attempt to move away from the linear logic, it is my fate to defend the right to be free and complex against the prejudice that we, people of today, are routinely trained to adopt and take pride in.
Those coming from other cultures sometimes blame the ‘white man’ for creating this mess. I can see why. But the ‘white man’ is bleeding from it just like everybody else. Ultimately, it is the sensory deprivation that is causing an almost physical inability to view the world in all its richness and beautiful complexity.
And sure, those who find happy relationships and get paid for what they love to do end up in a much happier place than those who don’t. But don’t forget, happy relationships and professional fulfillment were not brought to us by the almighty technology. It is creativity and love that deliver happiness.
Don’t ask me for answers, I don’t have them, I am just one person who is trying to do what makes sense to me personally. But I reassure you, there is a big world outside of our perceived sensory prison. A world of unimaginable beauty.