And now for something completely different

Steve is a man in his mid-thirties, married with a young child. He expresses himself well. He is a bit of an idealist, that is, he uses words like “authentic” in describing people and looks for meaning behind things like mini-malls. (Idealism is always about “What does it mean? What does it really mean?”) He’s aware of reputation, how far words travel, how meaningless Facebook friendship can be.

He is apparently feeling some stress, as we all do, at having to produce a constant flow of income into his household to keep it afloat. He realizes this will never end.

I won’t rewrite his short essay here, but offer it to you because 1) he is my son, and 2) at his age I was still recovering from a strict Catholic and right-wing upbringing. I was a hard taskmaster, a black/white thinker, an accountant, and was making good money for the first time in my life. And, of course, I was miserable. My kids were young, and they brought me unbridled joy. Without them, my life … who said … sucked blue whale?

I too was an idealist, still am, but I had so many more barriers to breaking free than does Steve. He is 60% there. He is in that mental prison we call Life in These United States, but he at least sees the bars in the windows. My suggestion, usually impossible due to responsibilities and lack of funds, is to  travel.  It is not like this everywhere. It is better, much better, in other places.

I asked his permission to link to his essay, saying that we get 1500-2000 hits a day. (That fluctuates wildly.) In his self-effacing and humorous way, he said yeah, he gets 10-20 hits a day. I hope he gets … 40 hits today!

The essay is called Homogenization Nation. I found it insightful. I hope I did not make this too much about me.

14 thoughts on “And now for something completely different

  1. Authentic is about truth, what is real. Another key word: innocent. When coupled together, one can almost envision a pathway out of this mess. The path is narrow and full of propaganda, distraction and danger. Usually, the missing link in one’s life of anxiety and self-doubt is related to the soul — as in “mind, body, soul.” It’s more often than not the missing ingredient in living life to its fullest. Moral fitness does not come without effort, and it does not come from a state-sponsored church that worships money more than the source of all creation: Nature. Hint; we’re part of, not apart from, all that is created in nature. That which is created and worshiped by man is not real. To return to innocence, one must choose nature (all of it). Serving two masters only brings misery and death to all who attempt it.

    “Even if we are spared destruction by war, life will have to change in order not to perish on its own. We cannot avoid reassessing the fundamental definitions of human life and society. Is it true that man is above everything? Is there no Superior Spirit above him? Is it right that man’s life and society’s activities should be ruled by material expansion above all? Is it permissible to promote such expansion to the detriment of our integral spiritual life?” Alexander I. Solzhenitsyn, Commencement Address, Harvard University, June 8, 1978 http://www.orthodoxytoday.org/articles/SolzhenitsynHarvard.php

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  2. Thanks for the link! I would only say that you might be projecting a little bit – I don’t have a lot of anxiety about bringing money in – I’m awfully lucky and I actually have a pretty good job. I would say I have more anxiety over the extent to which my everyday interactions are becoming increasingly transactional. It’s possible that it’s always been that way and I haven’t noticed – but I think living in a booming city during an economic recovery has really brought the rat race to my front door in ways I didn’t anticipate.

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    1. Project? Moi? The only thing that I can add is what one of your Facebook friends suggested, that the economy has a bubble feel about it. Denver is booming too, so much so that a nearby restaurant went out of business because they could not find help … employment is so robust now that the only unemployed are the pot and meth heads. And you cannot run a restaurant with them.

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    2. My apologies re: “anxiety.” It was intended as a general observation about our collective condition. The system is transactional (corporate) and debt-ridden, always has been, which leaves no room for love, charity, self-reflection and other essential spiritual needs. Competition is manufactured to keep everyone moving all those hamster wheels. Kind of hard to love your neighbor when everyone looks like a mark.

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  3. Apologies for my lack of participation the last few months. Central America has a way of steering one’s attention to other areas. Good post! Hey, what can I say….( Welcome to the Machine ). Obligations and anchors are part of the swindle. It wasn’t designed for one to be all they can be. It was designed to ensnare people to limit their chance of escape. Hopefully he can make some progress in that direction. Sadly, most can’t. Hey Mark….Not to change the subject but do you know anything about Earle Stanley Gardener? The writer and explorer. I always figured he was connected, but he at least contributed some to my learning efforts. Just wondering what your opinion is if any. Keep up the good work!

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  4. Homogenization Nation is an excellent article, thanks, Mark (and Steven). I like “Smoke and Ruin” too. But “Dear Thomas” was devastating. I had to move on to some other activity after that emotional jolt. He certainly inherited the writing gene.

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  5. ” It is not like this everywhere”
    I have to disagree. The entire world got standardized. Wherever you go you will find a McDonald, an Aldi or Woolworth with the same choice of groceries only slightly different wrapped in plastic. Museums are full of fake artifacts. The same lies being told. People wake up in the morning, go to work till evening, come home, eat, watch TV, go to sleep. The same thing everywhere. We don’t really live within a class society either, we live within casts. If you’re born as a worker, no matter if blue or white collar, you will not success in opening a restaurant or a shop because you do not belong to the network. We already know actors are a small cast of a handful of family names all connected to each other. Also you will never become a billionaire because there is no such thing. Not even the previously mentioned “actors” are as rich as they are being presented to us. They all HAVE TO work their entire live.

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    1. imagine you have the control of a billion dollars, which is I would say more money a person can spend in a life span. So you can spend it on whatever you want. What will you do? Will you start buying expensive cars, buying houses everywhere, etc. What will you do with all that stuff? For instance, what will you do with many houses in different parts of the world? Will you start traveling regularly around the world just to spend some time in every house you own? You also have to pay people for maintenance and make sure they are worth the money. Would that be so much fun? I don’t think so. It will become a pain in the ass and not a pleasure. The counter question is: how much money do you need? 1 million is obviously considered not enough today. So it had to be several millions. How many? Those dreams of having a lot of money come from the fear of not being able to pay the bills. And TPTB create exactly those fears. That’s why all those fake news are being put upon us every day. And to complete the picture, they give us the fake billionaires. Just take a look how those people live, for instance Bill Gates or Donald Trump, or in my case Angela Merkel. They travel a lot, live in first class hotels, eat in finest restaurants. And that’s it. They can’t eat more or better than I do, they can’t sleep better than I do. And I’m sure, I’m having more fun with my kids every day than they have pretending to be extremely rich. Owning expensive things is not as funny as you think. Not owning anything of value is also not funny, but there is a limit and it is not in the billion dollars region.

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