I have written almost exclusively on the nature of what most of us do for most of our lives – we work at jobs! But few question why. Of course, we need to eat, but why have we been reduced to “workers” to meet our needs? This hasn’t always been true. Read some anthropology. Read some history. People worked, but did they see themselves as nothing more than workers? Of course not. And us? It may be a peculiar American habit, and as such it defines our malady, but how often upon meeting someone do we ask what that person does for a “living”? Thirty seconds? Less?
To imagine another way of living besides working for it, is too easily dismissed as a waste of time, or worse, an affliction of the deranged. An excursion to the island of Utopia does not appear as the itinerary for many. And I believe that trip need not be made to appreciate how we have accepted a life of misery as normal. How, beginning in early childhood, our expectations, our imagination, our desires for amazement and adventure are methodically whittled away from the core of our character. How, in tandem with our sites lowered and our joys subdued, we are bound to habits, like pacing back and forth as if in a cage.
It is more than ironic – it is tragic, if not criminal – that as technology expanded our abilities in all areas of production to create circumstances of abundance beyond the imaginations of kings and potentates of all sorts, so many of us have been reduced to spare parts and relegated to a junk pile. Through the ages, the dreams of visionaries bore a remarkable similarity: harmony within a cornucopia. What we have instead is complete disharmony and a plundered cornucopia.
To search for what went wrong and especially to determine the precise circumstances that have condemned the human spirit to an illusion fit only for children’s fairy tales, would be to compound this travesty. The better approach is to strike out on a path of discovery signposted by those who drew, like an artist with charcoal catching a fleeting scene, a partial sketch of a way to live more appropriate to our nature.
What I find remarkable about our age is that those dreams of the visionaries are increasingly finding material reality among those who we least expect to keep company with fabulists. In brief, our better selves are not depicted by the creations that populate our commercial world, more our natures are deformed by them, but I see resistance to this condition and I wish to encourage that rebeliousness wherever and whenever possible.