Category: Essays

A chance to talk about and think about whatever you want. No thought is wrong, but remember, that doesn’t make it innocent.

An uncommon source for common ground

By now, we should all be more than aware  money doesn’t by happiness. Whether it’s Paul McCartney and the Beatles singing “Can’t Buy Me Love” or Benjamin Franklin eloquently professing the nature of work, the message has been heard loud and clear.

So here’s my question: Why don’t we act on it?

Why do we continue to place the blame for our current woes not on our misunderstanding of the human condition and all its complexities, but rather on economics, or a lack of growth and prosperity.

There is all this talk about money not leading to happiness, yet I see no evidence of this being put into action. There are plenty of individuals sharing this message with the world, from writers and artists to Buddhist monks and politicians. But the message isn’t downloading. It isn’t reaching our core. Rather, it remains floating on the surface of our consciousness as an accepted fact but unachievable reality. We theoretically accept happiness is more than money and that money is simply a means to an end, yet “money as an instrument” remains at the center of our actions to achieve happiness. Isn’t that just the same thing as saying we need money to be happy? When I get to this point of reflection, a simple yet jam-packed question crawls to the tip of my tongue: why?

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Why Fruits and Vegetables are Going to Save the World

As an avid reader of the news, I cannot help but worry about the world. I’ve fallen into this weird trap of self-torture. I hate it, and I know I hate it. Yet every day, there I am, reading away about the misery of the world and deeply fearing the future to come.

However, unlike many who fall into this same trap, I do not subscribe to the idea that things used to be better and now they’re getting worse. It’s easy to romanticize about the past. With hindsight, we can artfully shape our understanding of the past and use this to lament things that may have never been. But people, at our core, have not changed throughout time. We have always loved, always hated, always sought revenge, and always mourned loss. Our emotions, or our states of being, have not changed, although the surroundings in which we experience them certainly have. We ignore this, though, and continue to think the world is slowly deteriorating, just waiting for someone to save it (sound familiar?). Well, the world does need saving. But not from terrorists, climate change, and inflation, it needs saving from ourselves.

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Are we just playing with blocks?

“If what we change doesn’t change us, we are just playing with blocks”—Marge Piercey.

I have been plagued with this quote for a little over a week now. It came to my attention through my freelance work with a service organization dedicated to approaching social change by rethinking it and developing individual connections with the problems we are trying to solve. The relevance of these words in life, though, have left them ringing in my head since I read them.

We speak so much of change. Whether listening to the news, talking about our jobs, or reflecting on our lives. Quite understandably, we sense something is not right, so we set out to correct where we have gone wrong. But I often wonder if we are focusing our efforts in the right place.

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What is the Question ‘What Do You Do?’ Really Asking?

So many of the things we do on a daily basis occur without us ever taking a second to notice them. We are constantly thinking, feeling, acting, and reacting based on what we perceive of the world around us. Part of the reason we glance over things or don’t stop to analyze all we do is due to our bounded attention. We are surrounded by so many things and are constantly active, which would make self-examination get in the way of being able to do even the most mundane tasks. This level of analysis would be unnerving at best. Imagine as you walk to work you are constantly asking yourself: “Why did that person choose to go that way? Why did I cross the street against the light? What are the political ramifications of that construction project? The overpowering complexity of the world around us would reward this behavior with anxiety and stress. However, when channeled, this questioning attitude towards even the most seemingly insignificant act can produce a profound redefinition of something that once seemed so clear, which produces confusion about other things assumed to be true, and inspires further inquiry into the workings of the world around us. In line with our commitment to understanding the profound implications of our actions, I’d like to apply this inquisitive spirit to a rather simple question that seems somewhat silly to analyze, but that actually reveals quite a bit about the way we construct our vision of the world. The question being one we often ask shortly after meeting someone for the first time: What do you do?

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The Crisis of Solidarity

“All for one and one for all, united we stand, divided we fall.”

This famous quote from Alexander Dumas’ The Three Musketeers was written over 175 years ago but is just as relevant today as when it was published. Many of us likely read and agree with it, but recognize that its sentiment is not as readily visible in our daily lives and interactions as much as we might like. This is because we as people are in a state of crisis. Not an economic crisis or a mid-life crisis, but rather a crisis that is much more widespread, much less visible to us, but much more serious than any other that we could experience.  What we are dealing with right now is a crisis of solidarity.

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Hiding in plain sight: the consequences of our modern lives

We live in a very odd period of human history. We call it the “modern age.” Modern as defined by Merrian Webster refers to something “of or relating to the present time or the recent past: happening, existing, or developing at a time near the present time” A perfectly absurd definition for a perfectly absurd time in history. By this definition, the Stone Age was once the Modern Age, as was the Jurassic Age, the Bronze Age, the pre-Industrial age and whatever other age you want to think of.

These ages, once they stopped being referred to as the Modern Age, received their name based on how we, looking retrospectively, defined them. Human nature was transitioned radically through the use of bronze, hence the Bronze Age. So I wonder, how will today’s modern age come to be defined by future generations? I think I have an answer: the Domination Age.

I am aware of the conspiracy theory nature of this statement, but let me explain to you how your very immediacy to dismiss it as hogwash is the exact reason why this period in time has earned this definition.

Let me start by explaining that we are not free. What is freedom? To me, it should be to do whatever we we want whenever we want. It means to be able to explore ourselves and understand ourselves as human beings without limits and without prescribed definitions of identity. Critics of this idea will say that we must limit ourselves so that we do not do harm to ourselves. This is ludicrous. A human being is not naturally evil, it only lashes out with violence when it is deprived of what it needs, which has been a common thread in our societies since we started forming them thousands of years ago. The idea that humans are evil, that we need to be governed is nothing more than a theory tossed around by the likes of Thomas Hobbes hundreds years ago to try and explain the nature of a world that seemed so prepared to kill itself. If we all have what we need, we don’t fight. The problem is we do not believe we have what we need. Somewhere along the line, our range of human needs became infinite, and since they can never be met, we can never be equal and we will always fight.

How is this system of constant domination and infinite want maintained? I give you one word: FREEDOM. This word has been transformed from something so pure, so human and so natural to something so limited. True freedom goes against what we have today. Today we bicker over tax rates, job opportunities, rents, mortgages, abortion, immigration, voting…the list is endless, but if we were truly free, none of this would be a problem. Instead freedom has been warped, and it has been warped in the most maniacal way. Those that rule the world in the name of power and profits do so because the system they have created benefits them most. Those it marginalizes have no faith in it and do not participate. But what have they done with the middle? Oh this is where it gets good. They have given the middle just enough to think the system is helping us, they have given us just enough so that we believe working within it is the way to fix it, just enough to stay content. But, at the same time, we are not free. I cannot just not pay my taxes, I cannot just not have money, I cannot just be. You may be reading this and thinking I am extreme, that I am radical, but I know deep down you have had these thoughts, that these ideas are not new to you. I know because you are a human being and so am I.

When you stop to think about what it is we actually do in our lives, what it is that we actually live for, it all becomes so obvious. It’s all right there in front of us. In fact, they mock us with it. Governments publish reports about what they do, they hold public hearings, they operate in plain sight. But this is the genius of it. By doing this, we assume all is well. We don’t question and therefore everything stays the same.

Much talk is thrown around about bringing about change in this world. This world is always the same, what changes is the people inside of it. And if we are all conditioned to be the same, then when will change ever come? It’s time to wake up and realize we are the controllers of our own destiny, we own ourselves and our future. If we do not, the Modern Age will never be known as the Domination Age, because it will never close, allowing dwellers of future ages to name it.