CHANGING HUMAN RELATIONS
Technological advance of today has greatly affected the relationship among people. Individualism, for better or worse, originated in Western Europe, has now become the main tide in the modern world.
More and more single men and women live their own, solitary lives. Instead of being harassed by nightmarish landlady or neighborhood, they would rather have their own way.
Thanks to the democratic notion that no one has to serve anyone without any reward or consent, and the the drastic technological advance, they are independent of their employers, parents, leaders and even their wives or husbands.
People are forgetting what 'serve' is meant for. In olden times there used to be 'loyalty' between a king and knights, a master and his servants, etc. Though some rewards were offered or contracts could be nulled, they were on the whole getting along well with one another by some 'humanistic' bond.
Man Friday, a world famous character in the adventurous novel 'Robinson Crusoe', who was saved by Robinson at the moment of being eaten by the cannibals, shows great affection towards him. Since man is a gregarious animal, it is quite natural that he should show loyalty to his master like dogs and wolves.
Even masters and slaves, though sometimes taken advantage of for endorsing slavery, as in the case of 'Uncle Tom', would find themselves in a permanent partnership. And husband and wife, the most typical example of human bond, also used to be in some form of harmony or other; one served the other.
The democratic renovation of political system in the eighteenth to nineteenth century was followed by drastic change of human relations throughout the late nineteenth century and well into the twentieth.
Loyalty and servitude was severely denounced, and these were thought of as a condition of being forced to work for others and having no freedom. They are regarded as no more than a vestige of ancient or feudal society.
But something warm and heartening was also lost with the disappearance of this relationship ; faithfulness, sincerity and honesty. Instead, individualism came to power with the advent of industrialized society.
It denies not only inhuman servitude but something necessary for interacting with other people---kind of lubricant. People have tried to be concerned with their own lives, not to interfere with others.
Most of the modern people, in other words, are quite different from gregarious ancestors. They are no longer collaborative or communicative. They prefer solitary lives in a seclusive world like a cat. Technological advance has rendered man-to-man contact less necessary.
In spite of this, people are always concerned about what mass media has to say, and end up feeling anxious unless they are ready to contact with others by cell phones. In some manufacturing firms, they take the trouble of artificially creating small groups in order to encourage the employees to have intimate relationships with their colleagues in the hope of raising productivity.
Otherwise people tend to be insulated or, sometimes alienated in a huge factory. In some way solitary-prone life style may be the very product of concrete jungle---the adapted form of urban life, maybe.
This scene has now gone so far as never greeting each other in a large scale condominium. Even if they know each other by sight, they pretend to be 'familiar' stranger ( psychological term ) and this helps avoid unnecessary friction with their neighbors.
A new book titled 'Kateinai Rikon ( divorced but still living together ) shows that such trends have infiltrated into husband-wife relationship. Where there is little tolerance for being divorced, people are obliged to go on living together and they are naturally adapted to such a way of living that they don't have to pay attention to his 'co-habitant'.
We may have come to the point of no return; unless we go to 'the planet of apes' we are very unlikely to stop this 'disintegration' of our modern society. But everything we have seen in history will 'bounce back' or react against the trend every time it has reached the extreme.
Now we see the decline of divorce rate in the US. People gather and sing together to save the plights in Africa. New communities can be set up when architectural design and urban planning proved well considered. We may not be optimistic, but the pendulum will always be swinging on either side.
First Written in June, 1986, Revised in May, 2001