WARNING: The following blog is not an invitation to debate opinions I have spent years developing after comparing them with a wide variety of alternative views. I am fifty now, which means I am old and wise. I’m not some enthusiastic rebel who just discovered an injustice in the world that pisses him off. My opinions are solidly rooted in logical and reasonable interpretations of my models of ethics and morality. Any comment you might send to criticize or insult me is probably nothing different than what I’ve been criticized with or insulted by in the past, so try to keep your unoriginal rants to yourself. However, if you think you actually have a unique viewpoint I may not have considered, please feel free to let me know about it. I didn’t become the person I am by being closed minded. And I wouldn’t be all that wise if I thought my current opinions held no room for change. I’d just be old.
That being said…
We’ve been pursuing the American Dream all wrong. That’s because we’ve been pursuing happiness and success all wrong. We’ve made the mistake of holding the concept of material gain too high on our happiness priority list. We’ve confused freedom with the decisions we’ve made to sell ourselves into servitude. We’ve accidentally interpreted free markets in a way to legitimize debt and become slaves to a system that encourages the generational acceptance of inequity and misery. Without even knowing it, most of us have been successfully converted to worshiping the secular god of profit.
Other than the deliberate erosion of our autonomous higher natures to create an ego-driven consumer population, the biggest problem with what I’ll call the religion of “Profitism” is that it actually appears legitimate if you look fast and squint your eyes. We are inundated with smiling faces buying new cars, getting the high-paying jobs, enjoying world travel, and clinking bottles of craft beer. We wouldn’t even know what happiness looks like if it weren’t for commercials. And anyone can have happiness if they buy the right things and are willing to work hard, right?
Many of my traditionally successful friends would also admit that it helps to be in the right place at the right time, know the right people, be willing to compromise ideals, sacrifice anything that doesn’t directly impact your bottom line, and tap into a certain amount of luck.
The rest of us are fucked.
The truth is, being happy and successful in a society based on Profitism is a gamble and a fantasy, though a lot of energy has been expended to convince us it’s a sure bet and real by those few who truly reap the benefits of it. We’re all guilty of perpetuating the lie. I’m guilty of perpetuating the lie. We’ve worked together on this one, folks.
And we should all be very angry at our conspiracy.
But America is safe from any revolution, a true paradigm shift, for one simple fact — the peasants have been convinced that if they work hard enough they can become royalty. In other words, not enough people are interested in changing the system while they still believe they can succeed within it. There are some who will rock the boat, but few who are willing to capsize it because no one wants to get wet. Even our idealistic and radical youth eventually turn down the burners on the boiler to provide a smoother ride.
So what do we do?
First, we have to realize that the only chance we have of real happiness is to accept we have no chance of real happiness in the present system. Then we come up with a new paradigm for happiness and apply it to our lives. What is that new paradigm? Hell, I don’t know. I’m still stuck in the present system. I still pay my taxes and bills and work at a job I hate because “I should be happy to just have a job” and like single malt scotch.
But I have been taking small steps. I buy fewer things and rarely new. I repurpose what I can instead of throwing it away. I’ve become fond of dressing for comfort and utility instead of fad and fashion. I try to find and support businesses that hold the good of their employees and product above the increased wealth of their shareholders. I try to view those who disagree with me as people with different coping skills and the potential to change, instead of enemies. I try to see every decision I make as an opportunity to implement what I believe is the right thing to do instead of the safe, profitable, or comfortable thing to do. I’ve decided to use every moment I have left to try to live honestly, gratefully, and fearlessly.
And I’ve decided to paint instead of studying for the bar exam.
Come on in. The water’s fine.