At this time in history, society seems more divided than ever. We stand at the edge of realizing the great potential of humanity, yet we choose to bicker and fight about seemingly trivial pettiness, such as the false paradigm of ‘left vs. right’ politics, or which presidential candidate will screw us the least. Friends, family and strangers alike use and manipulate others for selfish gain; our governments willfully disregard our wants, needs and desires. Corporations destroy our environment and economies for profit, all the while providing us with plastic junk, telling us we can’t live without their products. The media willfully distorts truth over the ‘public’ airwaves in order to serve our ‘masters’ who systematically are destroying any semblance of ‘democracy’ we’ve ever had. And we willingly accept these slights against us, often demanding more, as if we’re a character in the film Animal House – “Thank you sir, may I have another?”
Why do we allow ourselves to be at the control of those who wish to make us serfs and slaves? Are we so content with our manufactured pseudo-reality that we have become apathetic to the tragedy around us? Or, are we so brainwashed by media that most of us can’t see what is as plain as the nose on our face? While a few individuals are awakening to the rising tide of fascism, the majority wallows in consumerist codswallop, believing the new iPhone and Wii video game system will bring the joy we so desperately need to our lives. Of course, plastic products and processed goods and foodstuff are empty happiness; only filling the voids of our lives with refuse designed to grow our enlarging landfills, our expanding midriffs, and the pocketbooks of a select few. What is our purpose? Why do we feel the baubles and trinkets that are marketed to us are so important? Are we so spiritually and emotionally vacuous that only petroleum-based goods, corn-sweetened junkfoods and filthy lucre will validate us as people?
The holiday season is on us, yet again. It’s not ‘upon’ us, as if the weight of commercialism is merely hovering over us, casting it’s warm glow of joy and happiness – it has its full weight crushing down on us, suffocating us to the point that we can barely breathe. Like a serpentine constrictor squeezing the life out of its prey with each exhalation, each day we are crushed further by the onslaught of advertisements for meaningless objects and foods that make our bodily systems and souls toxic. We are bombarded with the message that we, too, must have the new Lexus, or the next generation George Forman grill, or the new Dell computer. In reality, most ‘new generation’ products can barely be differentiated from the former version, aside from a new colorful plastic shell, or a ‘must have’ MP3 jack, or some such nonsense. We are told we must dispose of the old, as only the new version will do (so the advertisements would have us believe). The implications are clear – you’re not a model consumer unless you upgrade, and you’re likely to be shunned by the other consumers who now have an advantage over you. And the worse scenario - your family will be disappointed in you if you fail to provide the hot new thing (which is really a re-packaged ‘same old thing’).
Does having the newest gizmos, or wealth based on a false, fiat currency, really complete you? Or do these things complicate your life? Be honest with yourself – will your family really be crushed if the crap they desire is not under the tree this year? Are the objects of their adoration made of plastic, or do they truly desire something more ethereal; something intangible that only can be nourished through the soul? Can your family and true friends be bought? Do you think so little of them that all they deserve are petrochemical castoffs that will only become an ecological hazard for future generations?
I hear it all the time – “I want my (child, grandchild, niece, etc.) to be happy, so I’m buying what they want so they have a nice holiday.” I do it myself – I want my children to be happy, and I know that their peer pressure and skillful marketing makes them desire things they don’t need. Yet, I find myself buying those things for them anyway, even if it means I do without in some way. And, I realize my own hypocrisy all too well – I covet things I don’t need. But I also realize that I don’t really need the things I desire, nor will they simplify my life or make me happy. As a child, I can’t recall how many times I was disappointed in the ‘must have’ thing I wanted for months, only to realize what a cheap piece of junk it really was. But it took some time to understand that my desires were not really my own – they were implanted by ad agencies and a slick media who will do almost anything to increase revenue for clients and advertisers. Nor can I fault children who are mercilessly advertised to; who’s mental faculties and emotions are not fully developed, and cannot differentiate between the necessities of life and the superfluous nonsense that they are told they must have. While it is unscrupulous for those corporations to market to children as they do, I have little power to change that aspect of life, aside from attempting to sway one individual at a time.
While I cannot fault the children, or the mentally diminished amongst our populace, I can fault you, dear reader. Why, you ask? Simply because you, by reading this and similar essays, are aware of what is being done to you every waking moment. You know better than to buy into the media propaganda; you know that the next generation iPod is barely better than the last, save perhaps a bit more storage memory. You know that the economy is tanking, yet you choose to believe the sunny reports from the White House that our economy is strong. You see how the housing bubble has burst and foreclosures are coming at a rapid pace, yet you hold on to your belief that things will improve, once you weather the storm. In one instance, you bemoan the control the oil industry has over gasoline prices, or the price of groceries and goods, then you change the subject to discuss the best candidates for 2008, whom you know are all beholden to lobbyists and major corporations. I fault you, reader, because you choose to live in a delusional world where things will be just fine, so long as you stay in your protective bubble of false hope.
Fantasies are fine for children and daydreams. I fantasize all the time of things I wish to happen, or wished would have happened in the past. But it is not reality – reality is cold, harsh and unrelenting – a place where fantasies are seldom realized, and when they are, they are almost always disappointing. We find ourselves cocooning in a corporate-made world of plastic toys, pretend ‘news’ and processed foods, with no substantial contact with others. Some feel the need to take advantage of others in our pursuit of ‘happiness,’ then wonder why they’re so alone – holding no understanding of what true friendship is, or how to achieve it. Many of us think we deserve anything and everything, and the rest be damned. And some of us are conditioned by media and our modern society to exhibit sociopathic behavior to achieve those ends. For a small handful, desire and greed have twisted them to disregard the welfare of their own families in pursuit of their own pleasure and satisfaction.
We’ve lost touch with the essence of who we are, and how to truly interact with others.
There is no doubt where we are headed, if we continue along the path that’s been paved for us. And make no mistake, the path has been paved as smoothly as the rumored Trans-American Corridor, the fabled NAFTA Superhighway, and the plans for our path have been just as stealthily hidden, too. We have been lulled into complacency to accept our roles as good consumers; as obedient serfs who are compelled to toil for our very existence, with nothing to show for it besides expanding waistlines, diminishing pocketbooks, and mountains of consumer waste. Yet we think this is how it’s always been, how it’s supposed to be – never realizing our potential or the potential of human societies.
Perhaps this is the apex of humanity. Maybe this is what we have evolved to become –apathetic automatons, mindlessly performing the functions that get us through the day, only to be left with a void because there is something – something – missing from our lives. There are those who would say that it is God that is missing from our lives. What is God? Is God an old guy in white robes and a beard, standing on a cloud overlooking and judging us? Or, is God us – you and me? Not just within us, as we’re told, but all of us, united in strength and solidarity. Perhaps God is an energy that binds us, but we have to willingly attach ourselves to one another to feel God’s presence. We are told we have free will, and we can choose to accept or not to accept God into our lives. Perhaps that is true – we can choose not to accept the true God into our lives. And perhaps what we have been told is God, by so many for so long, is not the ‘true God’, but a means devised by men to keep us from the true spirit – to keep us apart from one another. Maybe we, collectively, not individually, hold the key to God. Maybe by coming together as one – rejecting the philosophies of consumerism and greed and religious indoctrination that only serves to divide us – we can all actualize the true meaning of God and bathe together in the light of truth.
But this is fantasy; an idealization that will never come to pass. We’re too far-gone to save. Remember, reality is cold, harsh and unrelenting, and has no time for silly fantasies of unity, compassion and harmony. We don’t really care about that stuff, anyway, do we? We desire Xbox 360, but are apathetic to Peace 365. We want to drive a new Mercedes, and don’t care about the little girl named Mercedes in the barrios of Mexico City or Caracas, who’s family can barely afford dinner on Christmas day, much less the pair of sandals she needs to keep from stepping in the raw sewage effluent that runs past her front door. Why should I be concerned with some unknown kid in some god-forsaken country, when my own kid wants the latest sweatshop gear?
How about these ‘noble’ Ron Paul supporters, wearing their virtuosity on their sleeves, bleating ‘our guy wants to save the Constitution and end the war!’ Many on the ‘left’ have been taken in by the ‘campaign’ to elect Dr. Paul, believing he will end the war in Iraq. This again is fantasy – if elected, in no way will Dr. Paul be able to alter the course we are on in the Middle East – too many corporate interests are involved to allow a withdrawal from the region, and the interest in the natural resources belonging to others is too great. Our mandate is our collective greed; we have rights to the possessions of any and all others, for no other reason other than we are Americans, or so we believe. Ultimately, many Paul supporters are concerned only for themselves – the most vocal cries from the good doctor’s supporters are always about tax burdens and war spending, and never about the good of humanity and society. The screeds against ‘socialism’ and social programs by his supporters are rampant, and can be found on just about every forum and message board across the Internet. The majority of Paul supporters care about their own pocketbooks, not the good of the nation or world – an extremely self-serving attitude, which if enacted, will hasten our destruction.
We ARE at end times. We live dead-end lifestyles where only our own happiness matters. We care only about ourselves and others be damned, be they friend or foe, ally or enemy, family or acquaintance. For this alone, we don’t deserve what’s been provided to us by our mother earth. If we cannot evolve socially as humans, perhaps we deserve to lose everything we’ve been given.