Although the expression “quality over quantity” may seem cliché and overused, this expression is at the heart of current socioeconomic and sociopolitical conditions around the world, and it should be our collective focus going forward. As mentioned before, class and quality is fast diminishing in virtually every aspect of human life, whereas the overload of quantity and volume has stirred the economic, political, and social turbulence we are seeing on a global scale. Thus, “quality over quantity” really and truly is the mantra of our day and age.
I can recall a lecture from many years ago by an American-Islamic scholar, Hamza Yusuf, on the degradation and degeneration of marine biology and marine life. Hamza Yusuf highlighted the fact that the exotic and majestic creatures of marine life, such as the iconic Starfish and other exotic marine creatures, are dying out at a rapid pace and are being replaced for the most part by mindless jellyfish. But this diminution of quality is not limited to just marine biology and marine life. What Hamza Yusuf highlighted about marine biology and marine life is perhaps an analogy or metaphor for what is going on in human life.
As mentioned before, the diminution of quality extends to virtually all aspects of human life. Even in the human kingdom, exuberant and majestic leaders such as John F. Kennedy who had immense star power are now absent, whereas mindless jellyfish like Joe Biden and others who have no quality whatsoever have ravaged political and social life. “Collard Greens” – which were once a staple of American culinary culture – are now hard to find. The availability of authentic Afghan food – without which life can be somewhat unbearable – has been reduced to just three very small enclaves in the world, namely, the Bay Area in Northern California, Queens in New York City, and the Hamburg Area in Germany. In turn, only about two or three artists remain from Kabul’s iconic “Kharabat” music tradition who have carried over the basic essence of the tradition out of Kabul during the heyday of the tradition in the 1960’s and 1970’s and into exile. Once these two or three artists of Kabul’s ‘Kharabat’ music tradition pass away, the entire tradition will pass away with them. Also, the price of Afghan ‘Pine Nuts’ (Jalghoza) – which are perhaps one of the rarest commodities and goods on the planet – has skyrocketed recently because China is buying up most of the supply.
Al-Jazeera’s correspondent in Paris gave a report this morning about how the ‘Baguette’ scene in Paris is now being undercut by chains and stores that are prioritizing profit over quality. Thus, the diminution of class and quality has extended even to the Paris ‘Baguette’ scene. The diminution of class and quality is also perhaps the main explanation and theme behind the American mainstream media’s descent into psychological warfare and sensationalism. In essence, many people and many firms are adjusting to quantity and volume, as opposed to sacrificing quantity and volume for the sake of class and quality. But the short-run tradeoff of sacrificing class and quality for quantity and volume has hidden costs which surface themselves over the long-run. There is only so much junk and misinformation one can ingest before the effects of toxicity and thus illness sets into one’s system.
Essentially, quality is intertwined with taste. And in turn, education – but especially exhaustive self-education – cultivates both quality and taste over the long run. Education guides quality and taste, and in turn, quality and taste guide virtually everything else in a person’s life, including a man’s taste in sexuality and women. As Bertrand Russell once suggested, education is essentially aimed towards good sex. And in many cases, class and quality mean certain things are simply not for sale or they are given the short end of the stick by the market, as in the case of the Italian Villa which houses Ancient Roman artwork and was the place where Julius Caesar romanced Cleopatra. But when the villa recently went up for auction because of an inheritance dispute, it had no buyers. Moreover, the Prophet Joseph was pulled out from the bottom of a well and was sold for pennies by a few travelling merchants. Thus, certain individuals and certain things are in a league of their own, and thus they must stand alone.
Moreover, obfuscating and whitewashing reality in order to get “acknowledgement” or “recognition” or a pat on the back from a bunch of psychopaths and sociopaths in Washington also amounts to a diminution of class and quality. Also, appreciating and recognizing class and quality is an art which requires intuition, and intuition is something that most people do not possess. Knowing where to go for a panini or lasagna in South Florida or a Kabob and Karahi in London is an art which requires intuition to a certain extent. My wife is Moroccan, and she came to the United States just recently. But in order to get authentic Moroccan appetizers or ‘Bastilla’ or ‘Tagine,’ I have to travel thousands of miles across the Atlantic Ocean to my mother-in-law’s house outside of Rabat in order to have an authentic Moroccan culinary experience. In order to get a really good ‘Chicken Doner’ Sandwich, one must travel nowhere short of The Hague in the Netherlands. To put things into perspective, consider how much dirt a miner has to dig through in order to find one small golden nugget. Thus, finding class and quality requires activity and movement.
In turn, intuition is developed through exhaustive self-education, which is something that many people lack in their lives due to circumstances and constraints. Ultimately, art and intuition transcend mere empiricism and guesswork. And there are a number of billionaires, crooks, and cronies who are sitting on money which they do not even know how to use because they lack art and intuition, which are things that cannot be bought with bribes and money. Thus, class and quality does not necessarily equate to money and material wealth. In sum, what seems to be a mere cliché is actually at the heart of human life at the moment. Thus, the paradox of human life.