Civil Society

How do you help someone without enabling them? How do you teach someone to teach themselves?

I’ve grown more and more disenchanted with institutions and structures the longer I wade in their depths.

I believe we are living in oppressive times. I believe that education is the main culprit for facilitating this oppression, and following closely behind is advertising and the media. Students filled with curiosity walk into classrooms at an early age, an innocent age, and endure a torturous process of desensitization as their wonder is pulverized day after day. Regurgitate. “Do not pose questions; give answers. Our answers” as the school motto goes. If only schools taught students to think and ask questions, rather than to know and give answers.

By the time a student graduates secondary school they have been robbed near successfully of their ability critically engage with a world that is theirs. This sacrifice, however, is not without recompense. The rewards of this imitation, this regurgitation, is a place in the ranks of society where your life consists of a position admired by a host of other automatons. Additionally, the appetitive desires that have been baited and primed for so long by advertising and jealous lust can finally be realized with the meager allowance you receive for your time.

We are born into this world no sooner to be robbed of it. The only way for oppression to continue indefinitely is through consent. Recompense is the false generosity that serves only to perpetuate the system; luxuries that only serve to enslave.

Pills and medication assuages the anguish that festers as we deny ourselves. Civilization, its cold and hardened systemization, corrupts. It consolidates, standardizes, values, and devalues according to criteria cognized by a few according to their ends.

Paulo Freire’s book Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Derrick Jensen’s book Walking on Water, and Adlous Huxley’s Brave New World illuminate this reality in a powerful way.

Eh. I think about these things, and then I think how critical I sound. Then I realize that being critical is good. It sharpens insight, outlines boundaries and traces over the margins dividing understanding with the unknown.

Perhaps government needs to be this way? No. I cannot let myself believe it. Must order come at the expense of freedom? Freedom is not ordered. Its pellucid intentions must be preserved. Man must allow no room for blinds that would otherwise stifle the contagious flame of freedom. It is humanity’s only beacon.

What is life? Did we decide what makes us happy? That car? That house? Those clothes? How do we spend our time? Plugged in to the net? To the tube? To the media? To the bottle?

I might be overgeneralizing a bit, and I believe I am, but there is something frustrating about a world where the great majority of people are empty. If the saying “A man is what he thinks about all day long” contains any inking of truth, then what does that say about the vast majority of people? Have they been robbed completely of the ability to create meaning and ends that are unique? Where is the original thought? Wholly original?

I’m still coming up with an alternative myself. Thinking, reading, talking about challenges and adventures and novel experience: are these any better? I should like to think so. Still, I may be wrong.

I suppose the system is such that, so long as you choose a path that has been already laid out, you can achieve a level of happiness. I am inclined to think that this contributes to a bad faith, a lack of responsibility so to speak, to the possibility of blazing a path of our own.

I may be a bit pessimistic. After all, I find myself amongst a swath of college students who indifferently drone on about how little they remember any class material, and all the while they seek escape in video games, TV programming, and intoxicating binges. To blunt a reality they are far too ill prepared to face? I really do wonder what people think when they find themselves solemn and still. I poke and pry with questions of my own and even with the closest of friends I find it astonishing how colorless their inner life appears. It might be they can’t articulate it, but if that were the case, I’d suspect that some evidence of this inner life would be found in their outer life as expressed through activity. On the contrary, there is none.

What excites you man? Tell me? What gets you passionate? Let’s talk about those things. Lets get into it together. Lets merge the minds and unhinge the doors of perception. Is there nothing that moves you that is wholly organic? I don’t want to hear the what or the who. Heck, I’ll settle with the how and when. But tell me, can you give me a why? Not people or things or events. I want ideas. Do you have any ideas? Lets let them germinate in open air. Don’t be timid about letting them soak up the new light. Lets see if these ideas of yours are sound and sturdy, novel and new.