Greta Thunberg is an 18-year-old environmental activist who has risen to a child crusader against the corruption of the world, not for incorrigibly persistent unequal distribution of wealth within society and among nations, but for the blahs of the world leaders who irk her nerves for not listening to her pleas to save the earth. In all fairness and recognition of her endeavor to raise red herrings on environmental issues, I applaud her to the very echo. But why is it that I see in the face of Greta talking “Blah, Blah” the faces of the boys chanting “Kill the beast! Cut his throat! Spill his blood!” from William Golding’s Lord of the Flies? Or is it that I am a seriously near-sighted adult whom Greta forthwith denounces as politically and culturally blinded conventionalist speaking the Blah only?
It was interesting to read and watch Greta’s speech at Italy’s Youth4 Change, growing more prominent and bolder with a singular air of superiority. It bestowed upon her a right to mock the world leaders, including President Biden and Prime Minister Johnson, in their conference for environmental issues. Her English was flawlessly articulate, with accents that denote her fierceness of character and feistiness of personality. Indeed, such a high level of confidence is highly remarkable and undeniably recommendable. Still, there is a distinction between arrogance and confidence regarding the speaker’s manner of speech and demeanor. The subject brings me back to the wild Boys of the Lord of the Rings, in which the gentle-mannered protagonist Ralph is soon abdicated by the rebellious Jack, who provokes ids in the followers of Ralph to subvert the order and to rule the tribe. Greta’s rhapsody about youth as not being “blinded by realpolitik and the assumption of compromise” sounds like a youth manifesto from Peter Pan. He never gets old to build a society of the young only. But does Greta know youth is wasted on the young?
Also, I wonder what Greta thinks about those at her age and younger underprivileged, mistreated, and malnourished worldwide if she is so concerned about the earth’s well-being, for we are the earthlings. Does her activist profession disavow acknowledging and addressing the humanitarian crisis because it is trivial compared to the lofty environmental ideal? Come to think of it; I have seen fewer youths making substantial movements toward eradicating hunger or preventing child abuse, including but not limited to sexual nature systematically worldwide. It comes to mind that people who use children for their political and social ideologies don’t regard such concerns as being worthy of being mobilized with the child drummer in the front. What is the difference between a child soldier recruited elsewhere in the world and a child activist under a supervision of a master adult activist?
What I feel about Greta and her famous Blah address is probably no different from what Shakespeare must have supposed in Elizabethan England: “Woe to that land that’s governed by a child, tis much when scepters are in children’s hands, there comes the ruin, there begins confusion.” Maybe that is what William Golding envisions in his fictional island where children’s mutiny proved to be as catastrophic as those on the Bounty or even more. So that is my undiluted sentiment toward Greta, smiling, chanting “Blah, blah.”
Since Oscar Wilde said a woman who reveals her age reveals all about her, I will not tell how old I am, but I am still far away from the Shakespearean age of the Old Man. If interested, hark thus. That is about the culture and tendency of the post 9/11 generation omnipresent in everyday life spheres from social media platforms to workplaces. Equipped with computer savviness with a flair for chic insouciance and minimalistic sentiment, this new generation has dominated all. So what’s the rap?
The cause for such generational distance came in the figures of two young lawyers fresh out of law schools in my workplace. They were both in their late twenties – the post 9/11 generation – didn’t have any practical work knowledge, which could be understandable. Yet their work ethic and attitude were disgraceful because a lack of enthusiasm and willingness to blend in the environment was a sign of defiance of conformity and cooperation, which people mistake for a display of subservience or acquiescence in the surrender of the will. But, of course, diligence is not synonymous with servitude. I am not even talking about Stakhanovism, in which workers spend more time at their work than at home. But the new generation is an entirely new breed, a new type of people aversive to warmth and friendliness on account of personal space because goodwill is suddenly turned malice, goodness weakness nowadays. How about calling them, Les Enfants Terrible? Would the ancient Roman scribbler who wrote on a tablet that the kids in his time were all spoiled have felt the same way as I do?
My sentiment toward the post 9/11 generation is, I daresay, dystopian, which pitchforks me into a scene in the movie “Logan’s Run.” In the film, everyone on their 30th birthday is executed under the euphemistic pretext of Renewal. It’s a cult of Youth synonymous with Beauty, and the human race means the everlasting beautiful Youth. Agism and lookism are principles of such utopia, conquering Racism, Sexism, and Classism. Women of the utopia use their Beauty to exert their prowess on their targeted subjects. Only young and beautiful rule the world, and the faces of the post 9/11 generation dissolve into the spectators of the Renewal ceremony in “Logan’s Run.”
Nevertheless, who cares about what I feel about this new type of humankind that will soon dominate the entire generations in our time? Indeed, time is ephemeral, so is culture. Yet, the universality of reason and sentiment common (I hope) in all human creatures has remained since time immemorial. Will the world now turn into the Real Logan’s World in the future? Or maybe am I too serious about it? Suddenly Madonna’s “Live to Tell” sings in my ears.
Forty years on our evolutionary scale amounts to a microsecond on our twenty-four biological clock. The millennium years, even Before Christ, feel so alienly anachronistic from our modern sensibility. The sense of time builds upon a fundamental element of consciousness as molded into a collective emotional experience as contemporary citizens of the world, just as the peoples of the misty pasts we tend to overlook felt the same for the civilizations before them. They were the titans of the pre-ancient Egyptian, Greek, and Roman cultures. They, like the evening sun in its full declination, vanished in the hazy horizons of the time, still dazzling with its scarlet hues of radiating halo lingering on the remnants of human civilization to this date.
Forgotten peoples of the Ancient World is an anthology of the peoples whose feeling of permanence and importance in their time of the world betrayed their fates buried in the tires of cities beneath the earth and returned to the dust in the winds. To illustrate, Akkadians were the first builders of the empire who elevated the Akkadian language to the cultural and political lingua franca of the late Bronze Age. The Hyksos were outstanding charioteers, and their military prowess benefitted their Egyptian subjects. The Bactrian culture was a delightful mixture of Greek and Indian heritages, while the Vandals gave a final, fatal blow to the already destabilized Roman Empire. These peoples affected the celebrity civilizations we are automatically associated with the ancient civilizations. As to why the forgotten peoples became peripheral in our realm of ancient history, it is a question of the immanence of the supreme being in the universe. However, what is certain is that they were the torch-bearers of the first civilizations passing the torch of society they had ignited and encouraged to the next in a relay run of collective humanity.
The book is an excellent anthology of these ancient peoples in chronological order from east to west, showing how civilizations expanded from the cradle across the plains, mountains, deserts, and seas to the Isles of Britons. Divided into the eras marking the epochal changes of history, Matyszak succinctly elucidates the peoples of the misty past with his trademark witty ways of describing historical contexts. Moreover, the exciting historical trivia resurrects the eras in a phantasmagorical display of faces and places.
To conclude, the stories about the forgotten peoples attest to the objectivity of truth applicable to any time of history that that which is here was there, has been, and will be. All things must pass, and there is nothing new under the sun. Our sense of time and culture is a likeness of truth, a matrix-like reality, because our facility is rather instinctive than reasoning, rather physical than metaphysical. Who would have known that people 100 years later now would think our time and us in this time anachronistic and antediluvian? Herodotus felt the same when he arrived in Egypt and saw the wondrous pyramids in awe that the people before his generations had built. So did the Babylonian king, who dug and discovered artifacts from centuries ago. We have seen the hungry ocean gain advantage of the kingdom of the shore, and the firm soil win of the watery main, increase with loss and loss with increase. The forgotten peoples and we are time’s subjects, and time bids are gone.