I was reading an article in Harper's today and it really got me thinking (Things that DON'T get Ben thinking include dust/dirt, most webcomics, and not much else) about how much people buy into modern life and the myth that it's somehow superior. The article talks about how modern man subcontracts his whole life out to faceless corporate entities and essentially eliminates all the things that make life worthwhile in an effort to make things easier on himself. Is life better now than it was 40 years ago? 100? Certainly there have been improvements for many people. Racism is down, life expectancy is up, homosexuals are no longer criminals in most states etc... These are advances that I would say are all positive. But what about Joe Average White Male?
No this isn't going to be a rant about how minorities have killed the white man's rights. Rather I'm talking about the way that the core "Average person" in American economy's life has changed over the last couple hundred years. The thing is that I think that minority advancement and women's liberation and even a lot of medical/technological advances could have been achieved without a lot of the industrialization of the last couple centuries. Sure we needed cars and plastics and computers to do a lot of important things, but it's gone way too far beyond that. Do we really need all our food prepackaged and pre-prepared for us? What about the use of chemicals in EVERYTHING to make it look/smell/taste nicer even when unneccesary. There's no inherent reason that books couldn't be made out of rougher less pleasant to look at post-consumer recycled paper. Arms races were WHOLELY avoidable if you look at humanity as a species rather than a fractured mass of people. Anyway my point is that I think the lifestyle of the whitebread middle class of the 1950s was probably ideal and that by pushing beyond that and worrying so much about productivity we've actually lowered the bar for the majority while profoundly raising it for the minorities (and I mean this in a political not demographic sense.) So we're meeting somewhere in the middle and that doesn't have to be. I mean why can't we aspire to give EVERYONE a 1950s white American Male style lifestyle. What I mean that is a managable workload, a fair but not overly excessive amount of creature comforts and a good deal of doing things for one's self. We do almost NOTHING for ourselves at this point, we don't even take care of our own children or play our own music anymore.
I don't want to romantacize the past as much as criticize the present. The fact of the matter is that these days most people sacrifice family, morality, spirituality, and intellectualism in pursuit of productivity and consumerism. Meanwhile we use up the earth like it was a roll of toilet paper and we all had a nasty case of diarrhea. Would it be so bad to stop producing ten pairs of shoes for every person and SUVs in exchange for giving families more time together? I realize that part of the problem is population growth but that can be remedied too. Somehow. Is it more inhumane to deny people the right to have children or to let everyone breed so many that we choke the earth to death before we develop technology to be able to leave it? Okay this is getting off base. The main point is that modern life has no perspective. It's all about producing more stuff so we can buy more stuff, a worthless cycle.
I realize now that I want to go back to the days of meaning and morality and exploration and stuff. Agriculture and family values. When schools were STRICT and productive
and people had personal responsibility. Or maybe those days haven't come yet. But they could. I don't know. How can we sit back and allow people like Ken Lay to accrue billions of dollars while he does NOTHING important. He's not an inovator. Why does anyone need more than 5 million dollars a year? Who DESERVES more than that much? Maybe Einstein or Plato who produced INCREDIBLY important knowledge but certainly not Bill Gates or Ross Perot. Okay this is meandering. Let me boil it down to the essentials
The world today has no direction except empty production. This is a horrible thing.
We should aspire to produce balanced lives for everybody and not to just make everyone as productive as possible.
Social change is not THAT closely connected to economic change and the first is more important than the second.
Capitalism promotes people based on their ability to lie cheat and steal money not on their ability to produce valuable and important stuff. This should change.
If we keep going like this the world will become a terrible place to live. We are already probably the last generation to experience nature in any semblance of the state it should be in.
Population growth needs to be halted somehow. Even if the measures that must be taken are very hard on some people.
We waste far too much time energy and money fighting eachother and competing with one another. Mankind should divest itself of the robes of the cultural past and embrace a pluralistic and peaceful future.
None of this stuff is ever going to happen and I am left with the choice of staying in hell and trying to remodel it from the inside or buying some land far away from everyone and living in personal peace and happiness.
Some days I wish there WOULD be an apocalypse. We'd get to start over. Isn't that an attractive idea? Being able to get rid of the corruption and lies and cramptness of modernity and begining society again from more basic foundations?
Pain has been going strong off and on all day. Definitly more than it was when I first posted about it but not at all close to unbearable. Ice packs unfortunatly don't cool enough to provide appropriate relief so I may need to buy more instants to use while the reusable ones are cooling. Also need a heating pad. I am distracted due to the pain but no longer irritatble. Today has been no worse than days when I wake up groggy or don't get much sleep.