“I don’t mind stealing bread
From the mouth of decadents
But I can’t feed on the powerless
When my cup’s already over-filled…
I’m going hungry.”
– Temple of the Dog, Hunger Strike
There is nothing in this world today that has not been touched by the culture of mass consumption. There’s over seven billion people out there today and every single one of their lives revolves around a system built to provide demanded products to those who can afford them. Those who can’t afford the goods to survive must serve their wealthy direct or indirect employers until they, their children, their grandchildren, their great grandchildren, or their distant descendants of a distant future can eventually claw their way up the social ladder to join the ranks of the consuming elite. If someone wants something, someone else will do whatever needs to be done to provide for the consumer. The consumer wants more, so no matter what the cost, they are going to get more. Because the world is measured in quantity, the quality of production, the quality of labor conditions, the quality of food, the quality of animal enclosures, the quality of air, the quality of water, the quality of life is all sacrificed. Nearly every major problem the world faces today — deforestation, human trafficking, pollution, homelessness, loss of biodiversity, urban slums, abuses of large agribusinesses — all boils down to one thing: the demands of an oversized consumer population. Continue reading
Vote for me. Vote for drama. Vote for anger. Vote for fads. Vote for bigotry. Vote for loud-mouthing. Vote for scandal. Vote for headlines. Vote for scape-goating. Vote for bandwagons. Vote for roasts. Vote for discrimination. Vote for red-faced, mindless, finger-pointing. Vote for me. Vote for me. Vote for me.
This is what modern politics have come to. A big circus freak show in which candidates attack each other and haggle over who’ll get to be ringleader. The goal is to win the prize for most shock value, because any press is good press. Too many politicians are willing to say almost anything, no matter how offensive, irrelevant, or ridiculous, just to get a headline.
Look at me.
No, look at ME.
Politicians acknowledge problems and the masses hoist their banners and shake their fists in agreement. Yes! This is a problem! I’ll support you! But who’s proposing solutions? Presidential candidates gain massive followings by riding the wave of anger that they’ve incited. They take advantage of people’s whirlwind emotions, especially hate, in order to overshadow each other and gain the most support. Everyone’s talking so much, and what do we get when the election’s over?
Nothing. Continue reading
Today, December 8, 1980, the world lost John Lennon.
I’m not going to say much — so much about John Lennon has already been said. Rather than listen to what everyone has to say about him — that he was an icon, that he was an individual, that he was a genius, that he was a hero, that he was a rebel, that he was a heretic, that he was a messiah. In each head, there is a different picture and a different perspective of who or what John Lennon was. But there is one thing that can’t be argued: the fact that he left a massive impact on the world as he knew it. Continue reading
There is defined path to success. Find a safe and stable job. Make money. Get married. Make more money. Buy a suburban home with a green lawn and white picket fence. Keep making money. Retire. Die happy.
That’s how society wants us to live our lives.
From the moment our brains are developed enough to understand what the heck is going on in the crazy world around us, they start taking the crazy out of it. When you’re little, you imagine yourself as a wizard or a superhero or a powerful fairy queen or time-travelling rockstar or the captain of an alien spaceship that has entered a wormhole and is a about to discover a new universe with a billion opportunities and where anything is possible. Then, they tell you that when you grow up you have to be a financial advisor. Or a pharmacist. Or a housewife. They say that everyone has a place in the world, but they’re not going to let you find it by yourself. Why are we expected to stuff our identities in a bottle for the sake of social approval, respectability, and money? Why do we let our inner selves rot away and die, only to be encased by a corporate robot that the world has deemed “respectable”? Why is everyone so afraid of risk-taking and adventure when that’s what has allowed our species to progress in the first place? What is so wrong about the word different? We all have freedom of choice. You can choose to play it safe and live a stable life. If that’s what you want there is nothing wrong with that. But if normality is something you have been trying to escape, keep running. Sure, the rest of the world will look at you and wonder what you’ve done with your life and talk about how you’ve ruined it. You probably won’t be getting their approval but you will get something far more valuable: self-satisfaction. Watch everyone else continue to roll along the same track, never venturing an inch off the path, to follow the same route that the preceding generation and the generation before that and the generation before that have all taken, while you explore the rest of the world and its multitude of opportunities. Continue reading
Sometimes life is heavy. It presses down on your back, compresses your chess, constricts your throat, and pushes down on your temples, like a large, calloused, relentless fist. Maybe life has added something to the weight, thrown something at you that was unexpected or unwanted. But it seems to me that the weight is heaviest when it takes something away from you, something that you didn’t realize was actually keeping you up on your feet. Sorrow does not crush you instantaneously like rage, or dangle above your head guilt. It is a load that drags behind you, making sure that you are always looking back and never ahead. Eventually, this load may become a part of you, some extra piece of luggage that you must take with you everywhere you go. Is there any way to rid ourselves of this weight? The struggle to stay afloat in a world that seems to be trying to drag you down is beautifully detailed in the Beatles’ medley “Golden Slumbers/Carry that Weight/the End”, an eloquent and insightful conclusion to Abbey Road, the final album that they would record together. Continue reading
There will always be conflict in world, whether over resources, political views, religion, or our physical differences, but there is also always a solution. The question is, if there is always a solution that avoids conflict, then why do people continue to fight wars? To persecute one another? To kill over our problems rather than reason them out like civilized human beings? The legendary Fab Four discuss the many reasons why people are unwilling to peacefully cooperate with each other in their timeless classic, “We Can Work it Out”. Released in 1965, “We Can Work it Out” initially appears to be about a couple’s struggles in their relationship but has since grown to be a song that portrays a message of love and tolerance, teaching that there is always hope for a peaceful solution to conflict. Continue reading