Sometimes, it amazes me how entitled we are.
We live in a time/culture/generation that blindly believes that everything should be handed to us on a silver platter. We apparently deserve the world simply by being in it. Our wars are fought on primetime TV. Our depressions are taken with the seriousness of a Seinfeld episode. We increasingly disengender ourselves to the point of hyperbole and tout our "rugged individualism", yet most of us haven't ever gotten our hands dirty, and poltically, financially and socially, we employ more of a gang mentality than anything else. Honestly, when was the last time it was cool to have a new idea?
In 2012, the ideas of the individual are dead, the grand irony seemingly lost on those who tout individualism the most. Rhetoric is more powerful than intellect. Allegiance more powerful than conviction. We're happy to let others do the dirty work while we sit back on our high-horses and nod with approval.
Sure, we all have rights, but somewhere along the line that sentiment has become criminally over-simplified and distorted. Let's get something straight. We have rights because we decided to have them, because we believe as semi-high functioning beings that it is the humane thing to do, and the best way yet towards civility and order. We constantly debate on what should constitute these universal privileges, and we try to evolve with ourselves and the times in which we live the best way we can.
Somewhere down the line, this became "god gave us rights end of story, America!", which isn't necessarily a bad sentiment. I'm sure its wicked comforting on the front lines of battle, but if you so much as exercise the smallest smidgen of logic towards that the whole statement just falls apart.
Allow me to cite George Carlin, whose death you should be mourning to this day:
But in this generation, its just not cool to question anything anymore. It's easy to latch on to the first empty sentiment designed to instinctively satisfy the frontal lobe, uttered by the man/woman who most closely resembles you. Because thinking takes effort, and chances are you might not like what lies under the surface of modern society if you took a moment to peel back a couple layers.
I believe the reason its easier for us to remain so blissfully ignorant is this intrinsic sense of entitlement. We have the luxury of believing whatever empty rhetoric we choose, because most of us have never really had to fight for any of the ideals that this rhetoric supposedly carries with it. We, particularly suburban America, no longer believe it's necessary to take risks in defending the things be think we deserve, because most of us feel like it'll just fall into place naturally, the way it always does. Well, it doesn't always. Sometimes the chips get blown the fuck up. And sometimes, it's your fault.
I really have to say that I think this generations sense of collective apathy and entitlement stems from our corporate culture, and what our bastardized version of Capitalism has devolved to. Conservatives believe that everything should be top down. Well, in this case, I believe the theory holds.
All of us, whether we like it or not, live under the constant shadow of hulking, corporate monoliths, who, whether we like to believe it or not, dictate just about every inch of our lives. We've somehow become okay with that, because of decades of indoctrination convincing us that life amounts to how much shit you have, and it's no longer cool to look at the man behind the curtain. Our generation has gone from "triumphant byproducts of liberty" to "vacuous product sponge marionettes" in a miraculously short time, and it ain't just us. This philosophy comes from the top.
The world has recently flirted with the brink of destruction, yet the one through line you can make through all of our hardships is continuous corporate prosperity. They prosper because fat-cat CEOs simply believe they should. They believe that money, however attained, makes you the alpha, and everyone needs to bow to your power or accept the consequences.
Old societies had you kissing their feet. In our society, you kiss their balance sheets.
Capitalism isn't about taking chances anymore. There was a time where, if you had an idea for a business, you put your head in the guillotine and hoped for the best, because you believed in your product. You believed in your ideas (as long as they didn't harm anyone, of course). You believed in yourself. And you could very well fall on your face, but you could also reach the promise land of prosperity, bringing other people with you who could help you in this land, all the while moving your community forward with new jobs and the ever springy stepping stone of INNOVATION. We took pride in the things we created and the ways in which we created and perpetuated them. We put ourselves and our well being on the line every day and risked failure in order to preserve the integrity of those ideas.
The old risk/reward mentality that used to permeate the TRUE American definition of free-enterprise has completely dissipated, given way to corporate loopholes and creative stagnation. Now, instead of living on the exciting frontier of business, we've perverted its worst tendencies. Now, all that matters are hollow spreadsheets, cost-benefit analyses of outsourcing, and profit margins.
In this day and age, the primary goal of big successful corporations is to stay exactly the same, because when you're that big, the worst thing that can happen is a disturbance of any kind. They treat their companies as if their skyscrapers were Jenga towers. You mustn't disturb the machine. Just clock another day of profits, whatever the means, for yourself and your investors. That kind of thinking might be good short term, but it isn't long-term, for anyone involved.
Just keep the gears turning another day, that's all you can hope for. How's that for a slogan?
And when stagnation doesn't work? Take from the peasants. Wrap your sinewy tentacles around the necks of the government and convince the people of an asinine economic philosophy, and just get bigger. No need to take any risks here. No need to regulate. No need to exercise responsibility or accountability, because they are above such petty connotations. They should be free to do as they please, while the lesser beings perpetuate their success. Because the successful deserve it, damn it. Because they are entitled to it. They are the new gods. They are legion. They are forever.
So they continue through propaganda and bribes to convince the American people to pledge allegiance to the democratic republic of iPhone, and we eat it up, cause... LOOK, we have THINGS!!!
I know I sound like a little unhinged right now, and let me clarify that I've normally had a live and let live attitude when it came to big business. Unbridled success is a good thing, as was the American way of achieving it. Being successful is okay. Using your power and influence to invade government and black-ball everybody else from reaching your level? Pretty wholly NOT okay. Pretty sure my 10th grade history teacher would call that Oligarchy. Meanwhile, I'm stuck digging in the dirt just a little harder every day because some back-sitting douchebag and his boardroom of sycophants feel entitled to shit they no longer earn.
Though my grapes couldn't be more sour, it won't stop me. I will continue to take risks in support of the ideas that I believe in, because that is the essence of true freedom. I'm going to do what my country used to enforce as if it were gospel, because in the America of yore, it wasn't enough to believe it should happen, you actually have to get off your ass and do it.
You remember, that whole "land of opportunity" and "pursuit of happiness" thing you hear every now and then.
And if that goes against the "safe and secure" route that my suburban upbringing and corporate masters say I should take? That's cool. If that means I have to be the pebble in the machine, so be it. Hey, you invaded my liberty first.
To quote Malcom Reynolds, "I aim to misbehave".
Fact is, we ain't on this rock very long, and I'd like to be remembered for the ideas that I believed in, not simply a proponent of somebody else's. For the things I created, instead of a mindless consumer. As someone with conviction, not someone who compromised for the sake of a paycheck. To prove that American choose is not an illusion. That's what freedom is to me. The ability to coexist and explore yourself fully within the parameters of the once idyllic American system.
We live in such a whip-fast, 24 hour news cycle, pop culture obsessed society that we are rarely able to come to grips with or even acknowledge our own mortality. But it's always there. As Tyler Durden aptly put, this is your life, and it's ending one minute at a time, and we are all apart of the same compost heap.
You can say what you want about religion, but at the end of the day all that is are a set of beliefs inherent and completely subjective to the individual believing them. Smoke and mirrors. No empirical bearing on life and the world as we know it whatsoever.
So I choose to play it safe, because the truth is, regardless of what you believe, nobody has any idea what's on the other side of existence. You might as well make the most of your time, because at the end of the day all you may ever be are the things you did... here. So don't compromise anything for anyone who thinks they know what you should be, or how you should live your life.
Cause who are they gonna be in 100 years?
I'm not saying go on a killing spree because that's what you feel you are meant to do in life. If that is what you feel, please stop reading this and check yourself into the nearest mental health clinic because you are a wildly imbalanced human being, and the very seeds of the American perversion I've spent the last thousand paragraphs condemning.
I'm saying (in the hokiest way possible), stay true to yourself, and to the journey that you believe will give your existence the purpose it so rightly deserves. Wanna dream? These are hard times, so dream hard. Today, you may feel a prisoner to your own existence. You dream hard enough, it might just set you free.
And when you're sitting on your death bed, knockin' on the Great Beyond's door, wondering if there's anything but black on the other side, you'll feel content as you take one last longing gaze back at the now immaculately spotless living room that is personal existence and say:
"I cleaned that fucker up nice."