Russell Marshall’s Column

Russell Marshall
Russell Marshall

Why I’m grumpy with today’s world

By Russell Marshall

Jokes are often made about how older people sometimes get grumpy with today’s world. I freely admit to being one of the grumps.

Some of it stems from what I sometimes see as unduly hasty change. For instance, part of me wants to tell everyone to stop introducing new technology until after I have left this mortal coil.

It was hard enough at the time for me to accept that I should have a mobile phone, though these days I realise that mine has its uses, if only to tell my wife which train I am on.

And I can see what an advantage a GPS must be for finding one’s way in unfamiliar territory.

But do I need what they call a Smart Phone or some such, the capacities and tricks of which seem from my admittedly few observations to grow every day? At this stage, no thanks.

Nor do I really need a new television set which I am sure would be smarter than the current 8 year old one. I’ll keep my money for the doctor, optician and dentist.

In my now 77-year lifetime, the world has changed more rapidly than at any other time in human history, and comes ever faster.

In a column in the Otago Daily Times in January, Colin James asked if we can afford to continue making and delivering more of nearly everything for more and more people. 

It is taken for granted, indeed required, that the Gross Domestic Product per head must keep on growing. It has worked so far, though rivers are dirtied or run dry, and waste dumps poisoned. We live and act for the short term.

In New Zealand we have been fortunate.  No humans lived here until less than 700 years ago, our population per space available is relatively lower and our environment less damaged than is the case in most other countries.

We are, however, citizens of the world when it comes to the health of the planet.

Despite the extraordinary achievements and improvements constantly being made by humans, scientists now tell us that there are real risks that ecosystems will collapse.

Can we adopt more modest lifestyles? Don’t bet on it. Perhaps grumpy old people happy with what they have, have a point.        

Delighted to find my old classmate (Alan Tristram) from Waicol 1950-54 , and former slightly ecumenical Vietnik conspirator sharing a page in the Kapiti Times. I’ve followed both your careers with interest, while keeping my head down (but not far enough for our local spooks). (Or the gringo ones either). Have you guys emancipated yourselves from the mythology that once infected all three of us?

Tony Peterson (Waicol 1950-54), (papist Vietnik 1968-70), human being thereafter.