Have you ever asked yourself, “What the hell am I doing?” Do you feel trapped? If you feel like you’re spinning your wheels and getting nowhere, you’re not alone. The system promised us conveniences and luxuries, but it’s left us more stressed than ever. Corporations bombard each of us with over 3,000 advertisements every day. The average American household has over $16,140 in credit card debt. The highest rated television programs read like a who’s who list of mindless drivel. Are we surprised that our lives lack meaning?
This essay won’t resolve all of your questions. I’m not going to impart a revolutionary edification. My intention is to point out what many already suspect. The majority of people in the modern world are not alive—at least not in a way that will make us truly happy. As Henry David Thoreau said, “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.”
We are surrounded by materialism. People encourage us to buy luxury vehicles, the latest fashions, and the newest electronics. Insecurity drives people to force their lifestyle on others. When we look without instead of looking within for happiness we make a grave mistake. Beyond meeting our basic biological needs, material possessions and money don’t make us happy. On the surface most folks agree that consumerism won’t bring them peace of mind, but their actions say something different.
Our prisons are a construct of the insecurity that we seek to suppress. It’s a strange feature of human nature that we make impulsive choices knowing they bring us no closer to contentment. Is it peer pressure? Are we addicted? Maybe a little of both, but I believe the larger culprit is intellectual sloth and greed. We’ve become so mentally indolent that few of us have the patience to read a book. We collect much of our information from glorified advertisers (that’s what journalism has been reduced to), a medium that is anything but helpful when it comes to escaping the grasps of capitalist ambition. The propaganda that spews from our televisions serves as nothing more than a Technicolor sedative, perpetuating our inaction.
What is perhaps more alarming than our benightedness is many people’s desire to remain ignorant. I can almost hear Aldous Huxley rolling in his grave. Millions see no problem in riding this derailed train to its logical destination. They never consider that the American way of life may be untenable in the long-term. They never consider the fact that we are exacerbating a crisis, by encouraging it to grow exponentially.
News broadcasts feed us buzzwords like “consumer confidence” and “consumer spending”. Is that what you are? A consumer? Do your spending habits define you? If that’s what we’ve been reduced to, I have little hope left for modern society, but I believe that there is a spark of life in us. Somewhere deep in the recesses of our minds we know something is terribly wrong.
This letter is a call to arms. It’s time to declare our independence from the lives of slavery we’re expected to lead. We will no longer play the role of mindless consumer. Perhaps more importantly we declare war on the unexamined life. We declare war on the status quo. This is not a war of guns and bombs, but a war of the mind.
Whether you know it or not, there is a war going on for your mind.