Friday evening I’m at the Barnes and Nobles Starbucks, “Cat’s Cradle” by Kurt Vonnegut in one hand, and my MAC and coffee in the other…. Yeah, don’t ask how I did it, but I did. My stupidity could have costed me a laptop, book, and my dignity. There I was, appearing “frazzled” and scoping the cafe scene scanning the tables trying to find a place to sit. All of a sudden, a young guy dressed in a bright red sweat suit, gestures to me, “Hey, need a place to sit?” I reply back, “I’m good, I think I found a seat”…. He quickly responds back, “Well, you could sit with me?”…. With a fake and exaggerated smile, I say that I’m good, as I quickly walk towards the open seat on the other end of the cafe. Later as I’m standing in line for a cookie, the same guy walks up to a group of other girls and asks them why they didn’t want to talk to him, they responded that their “taken”. Low and behold, he comes up to me and asks the same question, reckoning, that he had a low self-esteem.. frustrated by his aura of desperation and awkwardness, I respond, “Are you serious? Your walking around here hitting on every girl, and we are all strangers to you. What kind of response are you expecting? I understand your efforts; but you need to step back.” As I sit down with my cookie and book, I all of a sudden felt immense pity for the guy. As I turned around to see where he was, he was gone. I don’t think he ever realized how much discomfort he had donated to the female population of B&N Starbucks…. He was only trying to find his happiness. Could I blame him for trying?
Funny enough, I continued my read, “Cat’s Cradle”, a book about a group of characters, careless, sometimes indifferent, often stupid, and ultimately caught up in their own lives, while rendering mass destruction. I couldn’t help but feel reaffirmed, especially after my brief encounter with the “Starbucks lady-killer”. Us humans are responsible for great ideas and innovation, yet, we can be so oblivious to our surroundings and the greater reality.
To give you a better synopsis of “Cat’s Cradle”, in short, it’s a fictional story about a writer who is trying to research the moments experienced by a physicist’s family during the bombing of Hiroshima. The physicist created the atom bomb, but was not aware of its use towards Hiroshima. His family is portrayed as lacking the malicious behavior usually associated with people identified as bad or evil. Vonnegut paints the family in a humoristic demeanor, they are clueless, yet “strong” in their own respected ways. Vonnegut connects that story with later events that lead to a greater social crisis, all rooting from sheer ignorance. In the end, the reader is able to grasp Vonnegut’s point- the paradox of humanity. Humans are great at creating yet we lack the understanding.
Centuries pass us with new scientific and creative inventions, yet, we are constantly repeating the same socio idio-cratic habits- “religious” conflict, prejudice, ethnic, and international violence. In essence, times have only brought change in style but not necessarily in our moral behaviors. Scientists have discovered cures, but people have used those cures as a weapons in disguise.
Although I stand by the fact that not all humans act stupid….. I see where Vonnegut was coming from; and yes, many humans unfortunately act “stupid”…