from The Burning Platform:
Most people, sad to say, are too rushed, frightened, and confused to think about what they really want out of life. They are hustled through school, forced into long-term decisions before they’re ready to face them, then held to those decisions by fear and shame. They choose from a limited set of options, and they know that change will be punished.
Eventually they get old and find time to think, but by then they can’t bear to question too deeply; that would jeopardize their self-worth, and they haven’t time to rebuild it.
For an intelligent, creative, and expansive species like ours, this rush to nowhere is among the greatest of evils. And yet it continues, mostly unquestioned. At no point in the usual Western life do we stop, take some serious time for ourselves, and think about the overall:
- What’s life about anyway? What’s the point of what we do?
- What’s the purpose of a career? Why should I care about it above everything else?
- Why should I glorify the existing system? Why should I agree to support it?
- Who paid for everything I learned in school?
- Should I have a family? If so, why? If not, why not?
- What do I think is fun? Does it really coincide with the beer ads on TV?
- What’s the purpose of being like everyone else? Why am I so afraid to be different?
We don’t address such questions. Rather, we’re pushed past them. Even in a church or synagogue – places where larger questions are supposed to be addressed – the person in the pulpit wants us to become and/or remain a member of the congregation; their job depends upon it. There are true ministers and rabbis, but for most it’s all too easy to push their audience into what’s convenient.
As a result, we see little motivation in the modern West, save for the basest of motivators: things that match a line from the Bible that says, “Whose god is their belly.”
Mind you, I’m not against wealth, good food, or sex. I think those are fine things. They are not, however, the whole of life. We are much bigger than that. We ought not be limited to belly-level aspirations. But when we’re rushed, that’s all we’re able to see.
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