Sunday, December 18, 2016

We need a Super Villain now, like right now!

The other day right after watching - Rogue One, I was wondering how meaningless our lives are. We have no “Galactic Empire” to fight, no “Rebel Alliance” to join. Our lives are uni dimensional pursuit of numbers on a balance sheet. What would it be like to have a higher goal and larger purpose to serve. But wait, before that lets just step back and see if we need a higher purpose to begin with. Being a MBA graduate and working in a corporate world, I have developed several character flaws over time, however one thing which MBA really teaches you well is to put a framework around absolutely vague topics, much like the title of this blog, and sound intelligent. So, let’s fire away.

My favorite framework used to be PEST. It had always come handy in several group discussions handling equally moronic (if not more) topics of discussion. Lets use this framework to assess our lives and the world today.

Political: Post the november election results, I am not sure if this piece needs to be covered at all. One of the largest democracies of this world made Brexit, Voters for AAP (2nd election), and even Suraj Barjatya look smart and sane. World Politics today seems like some high school movie. There is this passive aggression of adolescence, nonsensical coalitions and groupie behaviors, and a strange optimism as if we are going to live forever.

Economic: Well economic state of being is no better. Today America’s top 1% averages at 38 times more income than the bottom 90%. Economic disparity has peaked and gone beyond 1920s (right before great depression) and today the world is only a lot more connected than it ever used to be. Lines of Selina in Bruce’s ears, from Dark Knight Rises, often comes to mind - “You and your friends better batten down the hatches, because when it hits, you're all gonna wonder how you ever thought you could live so large and leave so little for the rest of us”.

Social: Little said about Social is better. We consider ourselves an  advanced race, however so many years of evolution seems like an utter waste when our lives continue to be divided by religion, castes and other biases based on sexual orientations, marital status and skin color. Apparently nearly 130 million books have been published in the modern history. I wonder what were those about, since we continue to be as primitive in our thoughts and social outlook as we were a millennium back.

Technology: Technology is probably the only segment where there is even a figment of hope. While we have created nuclear weapons and Facebook, we have also improved real lives with technological advancements.

The short version of this is - we are pretty royally screwed. There are a whole bunch of predictions as to how we will run out of natural resources in next 100 years. On the scale of human existence of around 200,000 years, we are down to the last points in decimal, and we behave as if we have another 100,000 years left. What will it take to mobilise 7 billion lives on this earth to take things seriously and get past our daily squabbles and look at the bigger picture? Well the lazy answer is either - 1. Super Hero, or 2. Super Villain. However for reasons I will list down next, a Super Hero will soon realise that the true option is only a Super Villain.

A super hero will never survive this generation which knows entitlement but not responsibility. However for the sake of argument let us imagine that Superman (arguably the greatest of all heroes) did exist. And also lets assume he dedicates every waking hour fighting crime and catching bad guys and not trying to impress Lois Lane, there are just too many of criminals and bad guys. But if Superman (being faster than speeding bullet) makes himself literally omnipresent and stops oil spillages, catches criminal and stops all sorts of crimes from happening, he will still need a system willing to follow through on his hard work- process the criminal, fine companies for mal practices, or stop supplying arms to terrorists. Superman can only impact the gap between action and reaction. However he can’t change the way people think which necessarily should be a follow through of all the good work he does. In fact there will be people who will take Superman for granted and raise social media hue and cry if and when he fails to solve a crime, save an idiot on phone crossing road, or just respond to fan tweets. The world will adjust to the new norm of having a super human at your beck and call. Nothing changes! And one such day after years of service to the mankind, Superman will realise the world has just become a little worse than where it was because now they have a super nanny to clean up after. And at that point he will have two options - 1. To fly off to a different galaxy, 2. Become a Super Villain. Assuming Superman is super smart, I think he will arrive at this conclusion much sooner.

So how is that a Super Villain is going to save the world. First let me set down what I mean by super villain. So for starters Lex Luthor doesn’t count. He is lacking on both scale of terror or being fearsome. I am looking at someone like Joker with the power of Thanos. Come to think of it Ultron from Ultron Returns is pretty good. We need super villain whose reign of terror crosses all boundaries. It can’t be in Syria alone, it needs to penetrate the hearts of people staying in Ratlam and New York alike. Second it can’t be a slow reign of terror. Telling someone you might die after 100 years doesn’t evoke the same kind of reaction if you say- you are going to die the next moment you don’t follow my orders. Last it needs to be omnipresent and it needs to be ruthless. There can’t be second chances as well as no scope for gaming the system. Hope like the one- “I will escape the repercussions of my action” is the single biggest character flaws of us humans. Once you have a super villain fitting that description, you have got everyone’s attention. And by everyone I mean every last one of them. Once we have a threat so large and imminent, that is when we will leave aside our petty differences and find a common purpose in life - to defeat that super villain. If defeating him means, stop using private vehicles and switch to public transport, or if it means zero corruption in public or private sector, or if it means forgetting our religion and political affiliations, so be it. I am sure everyone will let those go and join forces and build that alliance to fight this evil. But first we need that evil and we will need that higher purpose. Hence we need that super villain now, like right now!

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