Amid reports of sex scandals, lone-wolf terrorists and Middle East beheadings, it’s easy to miss small events. But they sometimes carry messages far larger than those in the headlines.
A few weeks ago, as I was rummaging in a drawer in my father’s house, I came across a dozen reels of developed 8-millimetre film. I’d known the reels were in the house somewhere. But, for many years, I’d resolutely put the fact out of my mind.
But perhaps the most important factor contributing to our continuing vulnerability is something that we rarely recognize and that’s even harder to change: a belief that greater connectivity and speed in all aspects of society are always good things.
with Sarah Wolfe | One could draw a parallel between the sight of thousands walking north on Yonge Street and the mass exodus of people on foot from lower Manhattan two years ago. But yesterday’s electrical failure did not claim thousands of lives, nor will it trigger a cascade of events leading to war. Nevertheless, what we saw in Toronto was poignant for what it represented: a people too interlocked with their technical choices, too resolute on efficiency gains, and too dependent on progress. Last Thursday’s blackout should be a powerful catalyst for change.
Recently, the writer Ken Wiwa argued in this space that we shouldn’t worry too much about the loss of the world’s linguistic diversity. A recent study by the Worldwatch Institute, he reported, reported that half the world’s languages may soon disappear; especially vulnerable are those indigenous tongues spoken by only a few thousand people. This prospect has raised widespread alarm, because it’s generally thought that language and culture are closely related. So, when we lose a language, it’s assumed, we lose the associated culture.