Aura and Ryerson Chunky – The volume which displaces (top photo)
This is a scary time for a lot of people – very confusing also – what happened to all of the old standards? Institutions that we relied upon – especially the informal social ones – that used to seem to connect us all?
For a long period of time, it was possible for a lot of people to feel that things in general were (slowly and unevenly, but fairly steadily) improving. Almost no one feels that way anymore. They have good reasons for this doubt.
But what really drives me crazy lately, is that instead of recognizing that we’ve all made a wrong turn some ways back, and understanding that we need to admit our error, to do better (that is, begin for the first time to behave responsibly) we are just getting angrier and angrier – about all of the righteous angry things.
They aren’t fake – not one of them. Tons of gross injustice stands, and badly needs to be worked-on by our whole society – but none of it – not one single economic, rights, or social justice problem – can ever be addressed at a fundamental level, unless we citizens stop acting like perfect sociopaths – that is consumerists.
I’m a weirdo (as you will already have noticed). I can’t really claim to have no faction at all – because that would require a low-key and dispassionate temper – and I’m a man of a great many enthusiasms and passions. Rather, I love people ideas and projects so much that I claim a hundred factions instead – and this is why I keep being forced to see this problem in a disturbingly general way, rather than getting sucked into one single angry-theme trap.
Here’s the really frightening part – we know that there is only one way to get big problems solved in a democracy – for responsible adults to come together, cooperate (get over themselves) and find effective working compromises, that return us all to a state of general (functional) hope.
But when you look for a show of adult hands nowadays – you get crickets.
What we want is for our social duty to be no more than outrage and demand. What we assert again and again is that we (any self-sorting ‘we’ that you care to characterize) have been uniquely wronged, therefore only the ‘deliberately nasty other’ should be made to compromise.
Problem is – the ‘other’ is almost always characterized wrongly. Not only too vaguely, blaming many who aren’t at fault in any way – but also stupidly – with no principled understanding of or interest in, those motivations which are judged to oppose.
Discerning and empowered consumer
How exactly did the centre of global prosperity and driver of planetary development turn into a constituency of hundreds of millions of whiny infants, anyhow?
One explanation – very popular with people who begin down the path of broad skepticism – is to note that we’ve devoted an extraordinary amount of our finest cultural work and effort, to advertising.
For a full century now, we’ve used the most advanced science, psychology, creativity and unbelievably expensive distribution systems, to conspire against our own mental health, every single day, all day long.
Advertising is above all else, about two things – fear of being left out – and lust for more.
Which bring us to the first meta-joke that hits us, when we get skeptical.
Human enlightenment, in almost every form – that is, growing up into our full potential for humanity, compassion, love and wisdom – means getting past those exact things – fear and lust. Not repressing them, or hiding from them, but mastering these primal forces, and raising our active ‘selves’ above their constant influence.
Naturally, the second meta-joke hits us soon after – right when we are about to take a new whiny/angry position. How dare “they” infantilize us as a society in this way! Constantly telling us that stupidity and selfishness is normal, instead of pathetic!
But wait a second – the ironic smile enters – isn’t lying to us their job – and isn’t resisting those lies, and being mature, sensible, generous, sane cooperative people anyhow, our job, each and every one of us? (Arguably, a central duty)
Society isn’t a thing made of mass-produced plastic – it’s always been about our distributed will. What enough of us believe is worth bothering with.
Now I could go a few ways from here – a good intentions leading to hell thing about ‘consumerism’ as a social movement – or a general complaint about the extraordinary lack of compassion and responsibility in our still comparatively wealthy societies.
But you know what? It really is so much simpler that I don’t want to get distracted fighting over any of the detail and denials, which so many hold dear.
Let me instead simply pose this question – who the heck ever suggested that the citizens in a democracy didn’t have to defend it, their own intelligence and awareness, and every one of their hard-won rights, from the powerful evils of corruption and ignorance?
Put another way – yes, THEY actually are out there – as a combination of economic forces which are completely inhumane (humanity being in fact an outright error, within their framework of reasoning), and based entirely upon priorities derived from the needs of capital.
None of us can claim not to know about this. This is a true and obvious (albeit vague and fundamentally algorithm-based literally inhuman) conspiracy, which deliberately destroys people, social goods and even threatens life on earth itself – counting each and every one of those as a proud victory on the balance book.
So now tell me – how does appealing to those very same forces to which we have stupidly surrendered our own power, responsibility and voice, bring us closer to rediscovering and owning those democratic essentials?
Who said our duty was only to pout? Those who profit from our stupidity!
Our duty my friends – is to learn and grow and mature and RISE!