Masochistic Perceptions, Trials and Truths

These are my cyberfied cerebral synapses ricocheting off reality as I perceive it: thoughts, opinions, passions, rants, art and poetry...

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Give Me Convenience or Give Me Death

I am often astonished by the apathy in our world. Sometimes it seems like we are so lazy and complacent as a species, that we would not step out of the way of a train coming directly at us, and then mourn that we lost our legs. Einstein stated “The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don't do anything about it.” I see this every day on both a small and grand scale. I must admit that there is part of me that is envious of the apathetic hordes. I honestly would love to not have a care in the world. I’d love to while away my days eating potato chips, swilling beer and smoking cigarettes in front of the boob tube for hour upon hour, day in and day out and actually be caught up in what’s on the screen. I’d love to simply buy things for the sake of having it and to feel stimulated by the insubstantial. But I can not. Though I might indulge very briefly in such vices now and then, there is no way that I could ever comfortably live that way.

Ignorance truly is bliss. I am usually conscientious of what I consume in every sense of the word: nutritionally, intellectually and economically. While I am aware of much as a result of my lifestyle, and very passionate by nature, I can not say that such a way of life is a positive one. I possess a dark side and a deeply rooted pessimism, and this constantly confronts my passion and results in my efforts to perpetuate change. This does not lead to happiness, however. I don’t know if the apathetic masses are happy, but they do have a form of mundane contentment of which I am envious. Horace Greely said “Apathy is a sort of living oblivion,” ergo, bliss. Further to this, in the words of Vaclav Havel: “The tragedy of modern man is not that he knows less and less about the meaning of his own life but that it bothers him less and less.”

Look at the world we live in. Everything seems to possess less and less substance. Our politics have lost passion and become board interviews for national CEO’s. Humanity continues to trudge over the earth, destroying the land and themselves. Our priorities lie in celebrity culture while the saints go unnoticed. Wars are waged, but the dissent is extinguished to grumblings over coffee. Half of the Art being made is elitist, the other half, ignored. Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth” is apropos of the present world, and our motto, taken from the Dead Kennedys is “Give Me Convenience or Give Me Death”. Aldous Huxley appropriately wrote that “Most human beings have an almost infinite capacity for taking things for granted.”

I am not stating that we need a revolution. In the words of one of my favourite playwrights, Tom Stoppard, “Revolution is a trivial shift in the emphasis of suffering." What I am advocating is that we pursue a more mindful existence that causes us to live a sensual existence and limits the extent of the ego’s influence on our actions. This, in my opinion, would result in a pro-active awareness of our inter-connected existence and potentially assist us in realising a truer essence of being – that long sought happiness and contentment that we all seek. Sadly, if everyone is not on board, as human tendencies tend to be, this may turn out a bit like the great Communist experiment of Eastern Europe. This is also an arduous journey, as my own experience serves an example. Being mindful and battling the ego is like getting fit. It takes a while and there are lots of aches and pains, learning through trial and error and even injury. I have experienced all of the above on my journey, but, ultimately, in spite of the mood in the first couple of paragraphs that I have written here, I do feel better about my self and life as a result. At the risk of sounding vain, I am a very fit, muscular man of almost 40 years who, when compared to my peers, is heads and shoulders above many my age. This is the result of committing to exercise regularly and eating a healthy diet, while controlling my occasional use of the usual vices. I am far from perfect, and don’t believe that perfection is possible to attain. Still, we should set goals to improve our effectiveness as a being in the bigger picture, rather than concede to selfishness. To quote the Dalai Lama: “If you think only of yourself, if you forget the rights and well-being of others, or, worse still, if you exploit others, ultimately you will lose. You will have no friends who will show concern for your well-being. Moreover, if a tragedy befalls you, instead of feeling concerned, others might even secretly rejoice. By contrast, if an individual is compassionate and altruistic, and has the interests of others in mind, then irrespective of whether that person knows a lot of people, wherever that person moves, he or she will immediately make friends. And when that person faces a tragedy, there will be plenty of people who will come to help.”

Life can be simple.


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