Simulposted with thomaspainescorner on April 4, 2009
By Sylvain Lamoureux
OVER 5 BILLION PEOPLE live on less than $10 a day on this planet but I am not one of them; so let us say that the rest are the rich and middle classes (assumed ‘middle class’ also). These numbers tell us that less than 20% of the world population controls the financial, political, military, information, manufacturing, food, distribution, ‘management’ and consumption of the world’s resources; some would argue that 1% rules the rest but I shall implicate all of ‘the middle class’ into this piece as they do not seem to be able to see beyond their ‘generation’.
Since 1970, real wages have remained stagnant or gone down. Two-earner households have been created along with daycare and a ‘tying in’ of every family member to the ‘economics’ of the family. This has contributed to raising the overall stress levels of the family which, in turn, creates ‘blockages’ in communication for its members resulting in less than ideal learning conditions at a young age. There is no longer unconditional love, there is instead pulling your weight, getting a job and paying that rent. The cost of a ‘home’ was 50% of a single earner income, now it is 75% of a dual earner income. ‘Time’ is less spent with family and values are set by society as everyone goes to ‘work’.
Class has been ingrained, the disparities widened and all the while we seem so worried about the ‘appearance’ of things that the ‘facts’ wash away in the haze. As we think of ‘me’ and ‘mine’, our social ’safety nets’ get cut, waters get commoditized and a mindset of ‘if you ain’t working, you ain’t worth nothing’, seems to have overtaken society. “No one rides for free” and we will ‘pull ourselves out’ are echoed in unison with the belief that “if everyone thinks it, it must be right”.
Livelihoods based on jobs make us dependent on the ’system’ and seemingly ‘competitive’ in nature. With virtually all aspects of life now having a price tag attached to it, those that seem to ‘get’, while seemingly working less than ‘me’, are essentially ’stealing’ my opportunities (think unions). Jobs are tied to ‘free market’ ideals and the competition ensues; “if I can do it for less, I will have a job”; “any job is better than no job”.
Defending the ideals of a monetary system with words like ‘laziness’, ‘jealousy’ and ‘incentive’, the laboured masses forever justifies the failed system, which holds them into servitude, and refuses to see ‘change’ as anything worthwhile but instead as something sinister to be feared.
‘Success’ has been tied to the ‘investment’ of ‘education’ and the ‘ego’ has been associated with society and its outward judgements. We are told to “find what you love and figure a way to make money from it” and we accept this and go forth, turning our ‘enjoyment’ into competition forever believing that the only thing of importance is to ‘take care of me and mine’ in the form of ’success’. This is compounded at the family level and competition divides siblings as each vie for that ’success’ marker that will make their parents ‘proud’.
The public has been convinced that being an entrepreneur is part of the dream; that it puts ‘me’ in control of ‘my’ life, that it takes away the ‘fears’ that occur in an employer/employee relationship. Defending the ‘dream’ as a ‘comfort zone’; ‘I like having a home’ or ‘I like fitting in’. Not wanting to ‘rock the boat’, they will find any excuse to keep from seeing deficiencies in their lives. They don’t want to be free; they just want to be free of discomfort and conflict.
Demanding solutions instead of problems and fighting thought and clarity as cynical and angry, all the while defending with ‘comparisons’ as a means of ‘justification’. Pride has replaced common sense by defending it with irrelevant excuses and fears that we echo as we try to focus on the ‘good’ of our current system and wanting to direct energies towards ‘fixing’ the shortcomings instead of rebuilding; rebuilding may affect ‘me’.
On TV, violence and crime on Cops and CSI type shows allow us to believe that there is ‘always someone to blame’. They enable us to identify the ’scum’ of the Earth; the criminals such as file sharers. We prefer to ‘lock em up and throw away the key’ or ‘fine them’ because they might ’steal my stuff’, rather than looking for the root causes of crime. That, ‘competition’ driven through the environment and having to ’survive’ may actually play a part in the creation of crime, is dismissed; ‘bad apples’ and ‘punishment’ are the only ways to deal with it. Getting used to the presence of ‘officers’ and to being ‘questioned’ while slowly imprisoning ourselves. Seeing the ’seedy’ side of life and being able to ‘identify’ its non-conformity; spurring the suspicion towards all non-conformists (’anyone could be a criminal’, ‘beware the loner’, ‘he was such a quiet man’; watch your own kids for signs).
We are told that ‘crime’ is opportunist but yet we live an opportunistic life ourselves. We jump at a ‘good deal’ or an ‘investment’ opportunity without thinking of who had to ‘lose’ in order to allow us this ‘deal’; another’s misfortune may just be our gain. We have learned to ‘accept’ and ‘adapt’ to this system while perpetuating it through to the next generation. The kids grow up with concepts like ‘you owe me’ or ‘criminals are bad people’, echoing the lies of society and making themselves a part of it. They are led to believe that one must not stray too far from the herd and that ‘hope’ and ‘love’ will make everything better.
The media constantly plays on our ‘hopes’ of ownership and our dreams of an ‘easy life’ and ’success’. It could happen to me through instant fame and glory by being an ‘idol’, being ‘discovered’, ‘working hard’ or ‘inventing’ something, and if that doesn’t work, there is always the lottery. The people try to ‘earn’ extra money by engaging in ‘legal’ activities such as gambling or speculation, all the while putting themselves further into the ‘negative’ for the system of ‘hope’ is designed to ‘lure’ for profit. The shame in ‘loss’ is so strong that it aids in further straining family relationships and communication.
9/11, a day of infamy and yet to be properly investigated, is accepted as resolved on the basis of ‘bad science’. The hope that ‘my government’ or other ‘Americans’ couldn’t be party to it, fuels the lies until they are accepted as truths. Mainstream media attacks the integrity, credibility and character of anyone that questions it with words such as ‘extremist’ or ‘radical’; the same words used to describe ‘terrorists’. Forgetting logic and scientific examination, the public simply ‘accepts’ the findings of the ‘official’ report and considers the case closed. Having only neuroses, fears, and emotions, we crave a haven of ’safety’ and take personally the questions which may implicate our elected officials or other ‘Americans’. The mind itself has gotten lazy; frustration and a sense of being over-whelmed occur when something is not ‘easy’ or ’straight forward’; the very sense of ‘learning’ becomes an attack on the ego.
There used to be a time when wisdom and knowledge were passed along and shared for the betterment of the community but it is all money now. We are all ‘competitors’ and the knowledge we hold may be tied to our livelihoods or to our families. We horde information, hoping to get an ‘advantage’ over others or to ’sell’ the ideas for our own gain. We save, budget, spend and invest, believing that we are building a ‘future’ for ourselves and our families. We acquire as much as we can and desire forever more; we see that money brings with it a sense of entitlement and we too wish to feel ‘entitled’.
Do not be afraid to learn of truths, to see deceptions and to feel despair even if logic seems to hurt your feelings. Admitting that the world is shit and that radical change is required is the first step towards real change. Being able to face the ‘growing’ pains of something new and not reverting back to the safety of the flawed, yet known is the challenge. Overcoming the importance of ‘me’ is monumental in this evolution for only humanity as a whole, can ever ‘hope’ to bring true justice for all and a life in balance with nature.
SYLVAIN LAMOUREUX is Special Editor and IT director for Cyrano’s Journal Online, and for Thomas Paine’s Corner (TPC). Based in Montreal, he is a self-educated writer/activist who speaks English, French and some Spanish. He has lived in Mexico and volunteered in Africa for two years. He maintains two sites of his own, Things I Read Today and My Mind and the World.