I live in a world that runs on autopilot. Where I am told what to do from the very day I open my eyes. The human civilization lives by a template. Growing up as a kid academics is everything; grades define the person you will grow up to be; study hard to get into a good college; study harder to get a good job; work like a slave because you and your family will be judged on your per annum ‘cost to company’; get married because there’s a social stigma attached to it if you don’t; have two kids, a boy and a girl, because humans love symmetry; teach your kids not to do everything you did at their age and then expect them to listen; be disappointed; but then one day realize your kids aren’t kids anymore, they’ve grown up and are no longer your responsibility; be disappointed; live off your retirement fund which you should have invested in when you were planning on buying that bike; grow old; exercise and do what you must to become closer to God, because you are; lay on your deathbed, hopefully your own, surrounded by the ones you love. In this final moment, what do you think goes on in that head of yours? For once let’s look beyond the image created by cinema. Keeping it simple, you’ll be disappointed. There is no light, there is no smile on your face as you fade away, the number of people who will recall your memory in the week after, in single digits.
For a time when writers bask in the glory of ambiguity, keeping their audience second guessing with metaphors and phrases not even the great(?) Da Vinci might decipher. For a time in 21st century literature, where not giving away the authors intended connotation is considered good writing, it is impossible for profound insight to be shared. Not that most authors have profound insight, myself excluded. But today, as a self-proclaimed intellectual scholar, I will attempt to change your world, forever.
Humans live in a closed self-sustaining system. At a high level this system is called the government. But a much deeper examination reveals a complicated system of widely accepted notions that have developed and evolved over time owing to primitive human nature and is what defines the template talked about earlier. What I fear is this preconceived conception. We are joining an army to understand (not fight) the system and this is the enemy that stands in our way. So before I move on to the reason you’re still reading, I must take on this enemy in each one of you. Because only once you accept that mankind is naïve, barbaric, selfish, easily led and cannot survive without a ‘higher power’, only then can I be of service to you.
So lets start with something that is close to me, something that should put me on the spot and ease some of the tension before the storm. If you’ve ever known me you’d know that playing computer games, online multiplayer games to be more precise, is what I spend a majority of my time doing. According to my Steam client’s latest statistics I have played 800 hours since 26th December, 2011 which today accounts for roughly 45% of my diurnal life. One wonders what it is about this electronic entertainment that attracts people of all age groups and sexes to invest their precious time on something that provides absolutely no value in the real world. But one needn’t look far for an answer. Video Games are a simple concept which misuses the insecurity and anonymity craving nature of social outcasts. Gamers are lost in a world, seeking refuge and escape into a parallel (un)real universe where rewards with measurable surety guarantee ‘making it big’, with only time working as a limiting factor.
The author now assumes he has strengthened his position by blatantly depreciating himself thus allowing the reader an open mind in preparation for the storm. There is a side of mankind, a materialistic greed that above all holds a superficial and ‘plastic’ mentality at the forefront of life’s priorities. It includes jealousy, pride and selfishness as its strongest virtues. I will refrain from pointing fingers because that deviates from the point I want to get at here. But for the sake of implied connotations I will refer to them as ‘the popular kids’. So the popular kid’s lives revolve around acquiring materials whose value is equivalent to the financial budget of a small nation, for the sole purpose of proving their superiority and well being which is apparently questioned in their little imaginary world. This doesn’t seem like much of a problem, it is yet another example of the different ways the human mind works. But then there was Little Bill, and one day Bill thought to himself, what if I get the popular kids to believe that sucking my lollipop is gonna make them way cool. So I’ll go ahead and put an exorbitant price tag on sucking my lollipop. At the same time I’m gonna tell all the other kids that they want to be like the popular kids because if you’re not cool then you’re a nobody, and you don’t wanna be a nobody! And this I’ll tell them regularly, maybe every 15 minutes, just so that it sinks in. Now the popular kids pay me to suck my lollipop and because it’s so cool, all the other kids pay to suck my lollipop as well. They move up the social hierarchy and Little Bill doesn’t feel so little anymore. Everyone’s happy. Especially Bill. Lollipops truly are forever.
While this human behavior is dumbfounding in itself, I’ve always admired the glaring differences in their approach to life between men and women. Think of the most condescending thing you can think of about women and that is probably what most men think about their opposite sex. And this comes from men who hold above everything else their sexual conquers as trophies to prove their worth among peers. One will forgive the author for his use of clichés to prove a point but in the words of Arya Stark. Now that the author is done being mean, he moves on. All said and done, I do believe reality is far from its superficial judgment. While a man is blessed with a judicious brain and a utile body, a woman is anointed with beauty, a foxy mind and an aphrodisiacal body. Whoever decided that intellect outweighs beauty anyway? Both are human qualities that must be given equal precedence. If a person can use his intellect to make a living, then why not a women (or man) use her beauty to take advantage of the imbecilic barbarian in every man? Imagining a parallel universe where women manipulate men to do their deeds is not so farfetched as one might like to think. Many great men have changed the course of this world. Many greater women have made them do the dishes.
Every work of art is just that, an art of appealing to a particular human emotion or psyche. That is the reason why different people have different opinions on it. It is baffling how people draw judgments about another based on a single piece of their work like a book they wrote, a painting they drew or a movie they made. Ignoring the lack of information or knowledge about every other aspect of that person and unconditionally following him or her because they happened to attain a similar wavelength of thought pertaining to that piece of work. Every true artist understands this and uses it as a vantage point. What is so great about the Mona Lisa? Sure a seasoned art enthusiast might know but do you? Would you have been as interested in Dan Brown’s ‘The Da Vinci Code’ had he publicly stated that it was a work of fiction? (Which it is) Do you think the anticipation of your favorite singer’s new release is not biased? Brands work on a similar principle. What is brand image? It is a set of beliefs held about a specific brand, an overall impression in consumer’s minds that is formed from commercials and its use by ‘the popular kids’. Truly, how weak is the human mind?
Society seems to love and respect great inventors of times gone by. Edison, Newton and of course the recent Tesla are looked up to because their inventions made the world a better place to live in. While this is undeniably true, the unfortunate side of the story is that these men are used by adults as idols for the younger generation, hoping that one day their kid will create for himself a legacy, to be revered for all time to come. What they don’t understand is that these great minds didn’t do it for the legacy, they did it because that is what they were good at and that is what made them happy. More importantly that is all they knew. ‘Legacy’ is just another word that is supposed to make you feel good because people remember you after your death. You’re dead. Before life and after death, nothing matters.
A man, famous for some worldly achievement dies and the whole world mourns like he was one of their own. Everyday thousands of people and little innocent children die, but no one cries for them. Pause for a moment and think of the brutal, distastefully stupid nature of human beings. A life is a life. One cannot be valued over the other. Any assumption made on its supremacy or not is the outcome of circumstantial opportunities that any person may or may not be born with. Every one of us would value our own life above a stranger’s. Deep down you don’t really care if someone had to die so that you could live. And that is a hard truth. Accepting it is your first step.
Mankind is naïve, barbaric, selfish and easily led. Not so hard to believe now.
Those less convinced must stop right here.
So what is it that keeps us all in harmony? Living, eating, breathing; enjoying worldly pleasures. Once upon a time there was Little Bill, and Little Bill realized that mankind was far too savage to survive on its own. So he thought to himself, what is man most afraid of? Well fear itself of course. So Bill made friends with a lot of rich and influential people and in no time convinced them to put in place a system of rules; not following these rules resulted in punishment, sometimes death. The rules had to apply to everyone but Bill made sure he and his descendants were taken care of. Many other Little Bills popped up across the world and established their own little kingdoms. Several centuries passed and King Little Bill V continues to reign, thanks to a system we today call, the government. Most Little Bills are retired now, but still enjoy the comforts they always did.
This system has evolved over centuries into a highly complex yet smooth, functional and self-sustained unit. But like anything good(?) there is always a bad. The system’s existence has destroyed the ingenuity of mankind. The once political system has invaded society and predefined for humans a template to live by. Naive humans do without questioning; education is stale and stagnant, being rich and successful, now a universal ambition, and one’s material worth, a measuring scale for success. Any established moral values existing today are abstractly contrived. Maturity is a cage that adults make their young race towards so that they may one day be as miserable as them. Deviation from the system is frowned upon, even labeled psychotic.
It’s not that humankind are a bunch of buffoons. The truth is we cannot exist without a guiding hand. It is who we are, it is our curse. So what is the solution, if there exists one at all? The idea is quite basic and simple, which unfortunately contributes to its elusive grasp. The system cannot and will not go. It may change but it must stay. What you as the last hope of the human species can do is to understand the system. Why is it in place? What does it achieve? How does it affect me, the person I want to be and the life I want to live? Once you have this knowledge leveraging the system to your advantage is left up to your ingenuity with boundless possibilities. Every ‘successful’ person to have ever walked the earth has applied this knowledge of the system and gained a one way ticket to living a true, happy, content life. This to me is true freedom.
Think of the system as a set of guidelines and not rules. If the system says you need an education, then you should get one. But leverage this system of education to gain knowledge. Worry not about grades or ranks, study what you love, do enough of the rest to move forward. The system says you have to go to college, the system is wrong. If you want to further your expertise in a specific field then by all means go ahead, otherwise be an entrepreneur, there are no qualifications for that. While the system says you need money to live a good life, it also provides you with the opportunities to make money. Take up something you enjoy doing, remember that other humans are as much a part of the system as you, you now know how they think, make good use of it. The system says your boss writes your next paycheck. You don’t particularly fancy the old snob, but you suck it up anyway and take one for yourself. There is no sense in doing otherwise. But know that you did it for a reason, for a better tomorrow.
To grasp a concept such as this requires you to unlearn everything you have ever been taught. Start afresh, but this time question everything. Develop the desire to be inquisitive, to learn something new every day, not for the system but for yourself. One has to reach deep down to the most basic human instincts and then build upwards, understanding at each step the reason for mankind’s evolution, the birth of civilization and the necessity of a government. One must also understand and accept every aspect of human nature, the good and the bad. Especially the bad because accepting ones darkest true self is the first step to living a life in true freedom. In a world where adult entertainment conventions might be the norm in your city, in another, holding hands with a loved one could get you killed. Understand human susceptibility to influence and then turn to yourself and ask the question. Is the life I live void of external influences that arouse due to my place of birth, the circumstances I was born into or my interactions with others. If yes, free yourself from them, be born again.
If you noticed the term, ‘true freedom’ and are wondering what that really means, true freedom is living a life, knowing and believing that we have no purpose. Or at least there is no way of knowing. Science can only get us so far. So your guess is as good as mine. But why waste time guessing? By some power we have been given the gift of life. True freedom is living it. Living is the happiest moment of my life. Rich or poor, happy or sad, it doesn’t matter. Life is the elusive happiness staring you in the face. How each one of us wants to live this life is subjective and irrelevant. There is no right or wrong way. While the existence of a system contradicts true freedom, it is this true freedom that enlightens us to understand the system as an evil necessity. Mocking it but doing what must be done without losing focus of ‘the purpose of life’.
Forever Young. True unattainable happiness? Think about it.