It's time to grow up and start seeing the world the way it really is and not the way we want it to be.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Is it all right to do nothing with you life?

Simple question.  What harm would come if you simply woke up in the morning and went to work then came home at night and enjoyed yourself?  Working, of course, is an essential aspect of living.  If you want to have a place to come home to that is your own, where you can be alone, then you have to work to make the money necessary to sustain you own life.  You may not want to, you may find ways of getting around working.  But experience has taught me that living off other people in some way, shape or form is always more complicated than simply working. I call this the 168/40 ratio.  There are 168 hours in a week.  If you work 40 of those hours, then you are left with 128 hours to do with as you please.  It isn't a bad deal, when you think of it in those terms.  In order to make this 168/40 ratio work, you need to get your self-esteem needs met in the 128 hours you have to yourself.  If your self-esteem is tied to your work then you eventually end up giving up your free time in order to bolster you self-esteem.  The 40 hours alloted to work can easily expand until your entire waking life is spent either at work or thinking about work or taking classes to make your work more rewarding financially and satisfying emotionally.  This ends up in a situation where you are just a working man, 24/7, and the only time for yourself is when you are sleeping.  Many people find this sort of life acceptible.  And that's fine for those poeple.  They will reap the benefits of their hard work and advance in the corporate ladder, achiece success, make more money or however you wish to think about it.

What if making money is not your primary goal?  Everyone wants more money, sure.  Some people trade off large portions of their me time in an effort to get more money.  Second jobs, after hours training etc.  Other people buy a lottery ticket.  Each pathway to getting more money has its pluses and minuses.  Each path is not a certain sure method of achieving your goal:  more money.  Education is a gamble just as surely is the lottery.  You gamble that the money invested in your education will eventually pay off.  You fund your advanced education through student loans.  Student loans come due whether the education purchased by them results in more money or not.  You can, and many do, end up in a situation where you attempt at further education ends up fruitless and you are stuck with paying off loans that you cannot bankrupt on with high interest rates.  At this point you are likely to ask yourself if you would have been better off by investing the money in buying lottery tickets.  The advantage of the lottery ticket strategy is you either win, in which case you enjoy the benefits of more money with an extremely lower investment in time or money, or you lose.  But you only lose the money you have already invested in buying the lottery tickets, no more.  In short, if the further education strategy doesn't pay off, then you end up with a mountain of debt that will haunt you for years but if the lottery ticket strategy doesn't pay off you only lose the money you have put into the purchasing of tickets.

To get back to the question as first asked:  What if making money is not your primary goal?

We are so focused on making money as the only goal available in our capitalistic society that the idea of other goals is difficult to concieve.  What would a goal that did not end with you having more money look like?  How would it function?  Is it even possible?

What if you goal was just to be happy?  What if, at the end of the day, all you wanted was to be able to sit back, watch a movie or a football game, and go to sleep at a decent hour without any worries or anxiety hanging over your head and interfering with your sleep?  

What if your goal was to have another person in your life with which you could share your happiness and derive even greater happiness from their presence in your life?  

What if you were content to have a roof over your head, food on the table and a few extras such as TV and the Internet?  What if, instead of wanting more, you decided to settle for less?

Less is always easier to get than more.  As a point of fact, most people have more already and getting less would involve less stress, less work.  Not just 'cutting back' in order to balance your budget, but actually changing your focus from wanting more to needing less?

Capitalism teaches us to look up.  To see the people who are higher than us on the pyramid.  To envy these people, to covet what they have that we don't, and to work harder to raise ourselves from one rung of the ladder to the next.

What if you stopped looking up...stopped seeing your status as so many rungs of the ladder to the top of the pyramid...and started looking down?  What if you began to think of your status as how far you are from the bottom instead of how close you are to the top?  

What if you started thinking of your possessions as how much more you had than the people at the bottom of the pyramid?  What if you began to focus on how rich you are in comparison to the rest of the world?  

What if you began to think in terms of how much  you had instead of how much you needed?  

What if you began climbing down the ladder instead of climbing up?

What if you began to believe...or to remember...that greed is wrong?  That selfishness is a vice, not a virtue?  

What if you began to see the children who are starving to death in the world the same way you look at your own children who are whining about not having the latest version of a video game or smart phone?  

What if you opened your eyes and saw the world the way it really is?

It's a simple declaration but a radical commitment.

What if you determined in your own heart and mind...

That no one should get dessert...

Until all the children have been fed?

Is it all right to do nothing with your life?

Yes, it is perfectly all right for you to seek you own happiness.

Is it all right for you to have luxuries while children die?

No.

It isn't right.

And there is no philosophy, no religion, no politics that can change this wrong into a right.

Should you despair of being able to do anything to change this situation?

No.

Despair is the refuge of cowards.

Reduce what you see as essential.  Reduce your diet to that which is optimal for your age.  Get rid of your car.

Let your own conscience determine what you need to get rid of and what you can keep.

Don't make excuses.

Allow yourself to be happy.

Sell off, give away, drop out.

Get involved.  See the faces.

Humble yourself.




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Suggested reading:

  • A History of the End of the World by Jonathan Kirsch
  • American Colossuss: The Triumph of Capitalism 1865 - 1900 by H. W. Brands
  • American Colossuss: The Triumph of Capitalism 1865 - 1900 by H. W. Brands
  • Life After Death by Alan Segal
  • Radicals for Capitalism by Brian Doherty
  • Radicals for Capitalism by Brian Doherty
  • The Science of Evil by Simon Baron-Cohen
  • The Science of Evil by Simon Baron-Cohen
  • Traitor to His Class: The Privileged Life and Radical Presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt
  • Traitor to His Class: The Privileged Life and Radical Presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt

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I am from West Virginia. Born in New Martinsville to a minister's family. Traveled around West Virginia and Southern Ohio growing up. The only stability I got was from my mother's side of the family in Boone County. My Great Grandfather on my father's side was preaching in Madison during the Mine Wars. He ran for the state legislature on a pro-union ticket and won only to have the coal companies tie the results up in court so he ended serving only one day out of this term. My Grandfather on my mother's side stood with the miner's at Blair Mountain and died of Black Lung when I was still in my teens. I was raised a Conservative Christian...not a Fundamentalist. Strict separation of church and state based on the understanding that what makes for a good politician is pretty much the opposite of what makes a good Christian. I'm politically radical in that I believe in one man/one vote and the only way to have political equality is to have economic equality. I'm an atheist because once I accepted the fact of my own mortality I found no need for belief in God.