Three signs of modernity seen this morning.
1. A poster in Zürich on domestic violence depicts a stern-faced woman staring at the viewer, with a speech bubble implying culpability. To see (also) a female depicted as the aggressor — that is modern.
2. Four thousand miles away, in Bhopal, also as part of a campaign to end domestic abuse, the government handed out wooden paddles to new brides, exhorting them to strike their husbands, should these get drunk and attempt to manhandle them. Evidently, this policy response is primitive (Carry sticks!), regressive (The police is explicitly instructed not to intrude — the end of the rule of law), and shockingly naive (Are women to carry these paddles on them at all times? Will they be able to hold on to these paddles? Will their attackers not pounce on the idea to use a bigger paddle?). However, it is also modern, and radically so — for woman are called upon to *defend themselves*; for women are considered valuable enough to be defended; for entrenched male hegemony is openly challenged.
3. A British newspaper, The Independent, published the headline “The best nation on earth has been announced”. Surely, the methodology used to establish the best nation can be applied to identify the best religion, the best race, the best language, the best weight range, the best height, the best skin tone, the best age range, the best eye colors, et cetera? Or is the human experience so rich that it cannot be measured in terms of the ‘best’ and the ‘worst’? We have grave problems, and we have hard-earned knowledge — yet, we choose to invest our resources and our attention in an inanity, while perverting one of the critical pillars of a liberal democracy. We have reached a point where the essential difference between the posh press and internet chat boards dominated by adolescents is orthography. This too is modern.
The ancients would presumably be jealous.