This started out as a reply to _cellardo0r_‘s comment in my previous post, but quickly spiraled out of control. This is why I haven’t posted anything noteworthy in awhile, I’ve been building up to this.
I wish I could say I wrote that previous entry myself. I’ve been wrestling with these issues for almost a week and was getting very depressed about it until I managed to finally shake it off yesterday morning. When I read that passage about an hour ago, it practically leaped off the page at me.
In a lot of ways, yes, technology has driven people apart while making it easier for them to communicate. It’s also brought people together who otherwise would have never met. LiveJournal is a prime example: when I started mine, I only knew evanrudemi and jerm_cell. Now I have a much wider circle than I would have without it.
I’ve been pondering the Big Ones:
What is reality? Is there more to it than what we typically experience or can measure? And if there is more to it, but it doesn’t affect our daily lives, does it even matter? I had to back away from that one because I was starting to think in circles and was getting nowhere.
So, bringing it down a notch, what is the point of living? Not in a “I’m feeling suicidal” way, but as a rational inquiry. At the lowest biological level, the purpose of each life is to pass on its genes and die. Our entire existence (all life, not just human) is based on it: grow, mate, breed, die, rinse, repeat.
What is it that we’re missing, that we fill our lives with reality TV, and gossip tabloids, and the pursuit of more and more stuff? Don’t get me wrong, I love my gadgets and technology (like an iMac, for instance :P), but there’s a difference between enjoying the benefits of material abundance and being SATURATED by it.
Have you ever walked into Target, or Meijer, or Kroger, or (Cher forbid) Wal-Mart, and really looked at it all? Especially near the checkout area? Unfocus your eyes a little and try to take it all in at once: Rows and shelves of cheap plastic toys and trinkets, candy and gum, magazines and tabloids, little booklets on what to name your baby or your dog, and on and on and ON. What a colossal waste! Who needs all this stuff? Who BUYS all that stuff? Certainly not enough people to justify the huge supply of it!
I think we force-feed ourselves all this pap to keep us from thinking too hard about why we do it. Not that I think there’s any grand conspiracy behind it all; just that our society has gotten so caught up in the rush to produce and consume that started after World War II, that we’ve developed tunnel vision, and can’t conceive of any other way of living. If we weren’t constantly making and buying things, we wouldn’t know what to do with ourselves, and that goes right back to my original question: what’s the point of living?
I think about what would happen if the entire population suddenly woke up one day, looked around, and started asking questions. “Hey, why are we doing all this? Why do we just roll over and unthinkingly submit to governments and corporations? To what end? Why are we wasting so much of our collective efforts on useless things when people are going hungry or need medical care all around us? This is nuts.”
I think if that happened the whole system would come crashing down. I think it’s slowly starting to happen. The people who benefit the most from our current way of life (government, corporate, and big media heads) stand to lose the most if all of this changed, so will do almost anything to prevent it. I see it in the increase in the number of reality TV shows, the number of old shows and cartoons being turned into big-budget movies, the increasingly empty shrillness of the hatemongers and media talking heads, the efforts of the current government to grab unlimited power. They keep throwing more and more at us because they’re running out of worthwhile ideas and they’re starting to lose our attention. We’re getting tired of being fed popcorn and fear; we want a steak dammit!
Lots of other people see this exact same thing, yet too few people try to do anything to change it, myself included. Why? Because we have been conditioned to believe that only a rare few people have what it takes to make a difference and to be someone important. Most generally assume that they are not numbered among those few and, by their belief, make it so.
In the Tarot, I’ve always used the Knight of Swords card to represent myself, since that was the ideal that appealed to me most: the heroic knight in armor on his galloping horse, drawn sword waving wildly, charging off to right the big wrongs; to fix the world in one big epic battle! *cue Indiana Jones theme*
Of course, it doesn’t work like that. I don’t have the means to change the world on a grand scale. I don’t have the money or the influence, and most importantly, I don’t own a sword. Very simply, I don’t know where to begin. There are so many battles to be fought that I am incapable of picking one, afraid that I’d pick the wrong one and my efforts would be for nothing, while others go on to make a real difference. So, I stick my head back into my video games and daily routine (i.e. the sand), and do nothing. Somebody else will fix things before it’s too late. Hopefully.
I love my husband, my family, and my friends. They’re real, they have true value. But I can’t help looking beyond to the bigger picture, and the enormity of it paralyzes me into inaction. I guess the answer is to do little things where I can, that don’t involve any sword-swinging:
If I’m out to eat in a downtown area and have my leftovers in a doggy bag, give it to a homeless person. They need it more than I do.
The same with change or a couple bucks. Not all of them are using it to buy alcohol or drugs, and they’re not doing it because it’s a comfortable living.
Regularly go through my clothes and unused items and give them to charity (I have done this one quite a bit in the past).
Give ten or twenty bucks to some worthwhile charity. Hell, support the kids who are selling candy for their band or sports, or buy a box of Girl Scout cookies. Even if you don’t want to eat it, just buy it and throw it away when you’re out of sight. If everyone looks away and says “no thanks”, they learn that the world is cold and uncaring, and grow up to pass that on.
Ok, I’m spent. Time to clean up this place a little and go to the gym. Then maybe out for a glass of perspective and soda, with a twist of lime.