There are so many ramifications to a world gone “manic” with business. Reducing all human contracts to a “buy-sell”, cost-benefit analysis, where the power to shape events, issues, perceptions, learning, and the totality of a culture rests with a cabal of autocrats (politicians, and the suits who have purchased their votes, corporations and the serfs who dwell in the executive suites) can be compared to the thalidomide crisis of another era. It completely distorts nature and especially nature’s beauty!
Families are forced, for the most part, to focus on income/expenditure equations, thereby “incidentally” (but certainly not intermittently) teaching their children that money is what is the holy grail.. And the implications of that single perception are monstrous. Identity is too often defined, at least unconsciously, as “talents” or skills, at a very early age. Performance, even of the youngest in the family, generates kudos that will never be completely forgotten, as evidence of value even in the kids who have not yet reached their second birthday. From the cradle, and on into the nursery school, the child’s capacity to perform, including the performance of “relating” peacefully to others in the group, singing, dancing, drawing, reading, calculating....all skills that belong to the adult world of work and wages, have shoved the more chaotic and non-programmed (an non-programmable), the unpredictable and highly valued chaos of “play”...as if that no longer belongs to the kind of world we have created and wish to live in.
Organized schedules, activities that require classes and formal skill development, fill the blocks that serve as calendars on refrigerators for family “appointments” as parents consider their “job” to be to expose their children to a plethora of opportunities and ‘blank’ time is very often filled with kids and their technological devices. This “device-fixation is another form of organized activity, this time organised by the designers and the marketers of the computer games, most of which are violent and requiring another set of “marketable skills”. How else could we justify the hours spent orgiastically manipulating some joy-stick.
Robots can and will do what we tell them. Our children, on the other hand, while they may not have a formal education, do know what they like, and what they want intrinsically at a very early age. And our uber-ambition to make them perfect ambassadors for our human wills and ‘show off’ our family as accomplished and current, and on the cutting edge, only compels their compliance with what can only be serious long-term negative results. And when we consider that much of this activity is to “burnish” the ‘family brand’ we know we have fallen into a habit, if not a pit, that so reduces our human identity to little more than the agent of another’s ambitions.
There are some figures who doubted, rebelled and pointed to a different way when they saw their culture heading into a self-imposed, self-sabotaging and destructive tunnel. Doubting “Thomas” was one who refused to march blindly to the beat of the drum of Christian dogma. John Steinbeck even went so far as to observe that man’s highest and most treasured state is attained as rebel.
Turning our schools into ‘skill-factories,’ our churches into shallow imitations of the mega-corporations worshiping unquestioningly at the altar of political correctness and moral perfectionism , dependent on increasing both customers (converts) and profits (trust funds), our universities into highly refined ‘skill-factories’ and our families into mini-corporations, as if that were the only and the best model available, while feeding all of the participants in each of these ‘institutions’ a surfeit diet of violence, competition, vengeance, bullying and shaming, all of that diet dependent on another version of the same corporate model of competition and greed, will serve no purpose other than to divide humanity into those who impose power over those who comply (or hopefully rebel, even revolt, if that it what it takes to break this stranglehold cutting the oxygen from lungs and the spirit from the human heart.
And the gap in all of the many varied categories of observable data, money, status, political power, setting of the rules, writing the words of public relations, advertising and ratings-based journalism for the benefit of the shareholders, and most importantly the gap in numbers of have’s (smaller) to have-not’s (exponentially growing) demonstrates our denial of a fault-line larger and growing faster than the SanAndreas fault.
Repeating aftershocks in Nepal, tsunamis in Japan and storms that devastate places like Haiti, from which those victims will take decades to recover, if they ever do, will look like a Sunday School picnic when compared with the potential violence that can only emerge from our headlong pursuit of greed, narcissism, cramped definitive boxes of human “value” as agents of a system whose core is so corrupt that none of the few “humane” and creative and rebellious voices left, either individually or collectively, can turn the wheel in a different direction.
Even the small signs of creativity in modern music, modern media, the millions of boutique expressions, commercially, artistically, and even in philanthropically, while worthy of our support and celebration cannot and will not overcome the counter-weight of the “mass” culture of selfishness, greed, competition and survival.
Call this a piece of naive idealistic dreaming, if you like. However, the only dream in this piece is a nightmare of ugly and overwhelming oppression so insidious and so ubiquitous and so nefarious and so blindly followed, as if to make the monks of the middle ages mere students of a Spartan and self-denying existence by comparison.
The wonder of the universe, of human birth and human creativity, of poetry and concertos and symphonies and paintings and sacred helping hands is in danger of being obliterated by a throng of power-hungry, greedy, narcissistic and pugilistic ‘entrepreneurs’ whose dedication to their own individual needs so trumps anything that resembles a common good that the common good is in danger of being removed from both the vocabulary and the public consciousness.
Sad, tragic, and perhaps now inevitable.