These days we’re overwhelmed by a constant stream of tragedy and suffering:
Paris, Nice, Istanbul, Syria, ISIS/ISIL, Brussels, Orlando; the Zika virus; nuke tests in North Korea; the abuse from police that is largely targeting black males, and the response in Dallas and New York where police officers were shot down in cold blood; gay rights, women’s rights; the illegal and unethical treatment of Native Americans and their last remnants of sacred ground; heroine and pill overdoses at a pandemic level; immigration and refugee crises; the bombings rarely mentioned that affect the people in places like Iraq and Pakistan; the drug addiction, rape, and theft that dominate our urban landscape.
But who’s really to blame?
The list goes on and on, and fingers quickly point away from self and to the ideology that lays opposite: conservatives blame liberals, liberals blame conservatives; American’s blame Mexicans; Islamic radicals blame America and the western world; women blame men, men blame women for wearing provocative clothing; straight religious people blame so-called godless gays, cis-gendered blame transgendered, vegans blame carnivores, right-wingers blame the PC police, squares blame the lazy, ad infinitum, ad infinitum…
And the whole time we’re doing this we’re refusing to take any blame upon self (for our inaction or for our increased radicalism that exacerbates the conflict), which is what allows those who are truly to blame to escape persecution and justice. Thus, revolution stalls– incompetent and without vigor.
Our Orwellian Servitude
George Orwell’s 1984 attempted to show the world the fallacy of this mindset by writing a story where the main character’s country constantly switched between being at war with the two same entities: Eurasia and Eastasia. The war didn’t matter; all that mattered was that there was always some “other” to fear and hate. Even at home, the adult population was kept docile by forcing them to live in fear of their children who were trained to implore Mccarthy’esque fear-mongering.
The book declares: the whole world lives in poverty: hunger, disease, and filth are the norms. Therefore the masses were willing to have their freedoms and well-being stripped away from them so long as there was always a looming threat that made them feel they were lucky to have what little they did, some invisible threat upon whom they could channel their oppression-fueled, impotent hatred against. So long as there was somebody “different than them” to be concerned with, the poor masses would never consider to look above themselves at those who they “seemingly” shared so much in common with; thus they’d never see the strings dangling from their puppet-masters.
While this is a fictional novel, such satire and literature has long been the channel for the revolutionary to show the real masses the insights they’ve failed to see through their veiled slavery; and Orwell was nothing short of a master at this. He’d seen what was happening to our society: rather than look at the slave-masters who rule over us from opulent ivory towers, we instead allow religion, race, gender, and nationality to divide the strength and unity that COULD instead be used to overcome our oppressors. We let our fear of resources justify our abuse of those who are different than us (and ironically enough we even do this while wasting resources and grounding ourselves into debt in the pursuit of superfluous consumerism).
How did we get here?
You see, the core issue is and always has been the manipulation of the common folk’s fear via the power gained by wealth and the subsequent control of information. Religion and government–our most ancient of structures–did this wonderfully by the right of kings. So terrified were the masses that they wouldn’t have a roof over their head or bread in their belly or a respite for themselves and their loved ones in the afterlife that they gave over their spiritual sense of wonder to a doctrine that gave them a sense of solace. And once they placed their definition of existence in the hands of this man-made set of laws called religion, they were unable to admit that the tyrants that ruled over them were indeed tyrants, because “God had willed it”–because the bloodline of their oppressors was imbued with divinity. If they planned to escape the fiery inferno of hell, how could they argue their god’s appointment to the throne?
And if these ordained leaders said that all the people of a different culture we’re our enemy, then it must be true… right? And so we built our great walls and our castle keeps and we divided and conquered. Slavery ensued, and xenophobia allowed the justified theft of land and wealth from culture after culture, innocent after innocent. And this practice continued for millennia. Over time, those who had long benefitted from their previously-ordained bloodline, those who had become upper-classes nobles due to their relationships with said leaders of church and state, and those who had made money off slaving and from buying up land during times of war–they were all able to accumulate immense wealth and build massive empires.
Certainly there were cunning, brilliant, and plainly lucky individuals amongst the masses who were able to gain immense wealth for themselves as well, especially in times such as the industrial revolution; in this wild-west age of ingenuity and abundance, the living standard for the average person saw what is often considered as the first period of consistent increase in recorded history. But while this era lifted up a strong middle to upper middle class, it also allowed those who already had the advantage of wealth to siphon even more wealth from more hands, thus furthering the economic disparity; and thus we began to see a substantial aristocratic, oligarchical class that held more wealth and power than even entire governments and religions.
With this power, the aristocratic oligarchs were able to prey on the fears of government leaders who felt their power dwindling, tempting them with the money and power to escape their own insecurities. Thus interest groups and corruption ran rampant, and puppets were installed. Policies shifted, tax loop holes were created, regulations were eased, monopolies were quietly enforced, poison was packaged as food and snake-oil placebos were sold to cure the resulting toxicity. Marketing and media (largely owned by the same oligarchs) obscured the truth of these deceits, and the distance between the haves and have-nots skyrocketed, a nearly impossible-to-cross chasm forming between the two. Decades of these shifts in policies not only perpetuated the uneven distribution of wealth, but actually deeply exacerbated its pace by altering the playing field of capitalism and democracy, the rules and regulations becoming more complex and subtle, the global economy becoming inexorably tweaked in the favor of the rich. The rules of the fair market were sequestered to the arena of the lower-middle class, providing hope for the masses by keeping them under elite control. Should anyone become too successful, the rich would simply buy them out or engage in corporate espionage. . . or worse.
The chance of the average person to compete with those who came from families of long-standing wealth became negligible: the system so oppressive, so cyclical, so skewed, that between minimum wage pay, brainwashed consumerism, and a new form of slavery called debt, the mere process of being born (3,500$ – 30,000$ in the US, depending on insurance) started you in debt. To climb out of this cycle, you need a job, but you can’t get a decent one of those without a 40,000$ education, right? But if you want to get to that job, you need a car, and therefore a car loan, taking up several thousand more dollars in debt. And if you want a roof over your head that you’re able to modify in ways that uplift your soul, a place you call home that provides you the solace of security, then you need to sign up for the indentured servitude of a mortgage. Now don’t get sick or injured either… that’s another debt, and even bigger one.
Coming into this world with a family who owes on an education, a car, their house, and their health actually still makes you one of the “lucky ones”. But even then we’re isolated from our community(and the bliss of connection) by white picket fences and exhaustion, where we fall into bouts of depression, often turning to prescription drugs (owned by the aristocracy and charge to us at outrageous prices). And for many this keeps us stupified and apathetic enough to accept this situation. But for those of us who eventually see through the game, we often become so daunted by our realized slavery and resulting frustration that we turn to drug abuse to mentality cope. But since these drugs don’t profit the aristocrats, we’re now committing a crime, for which they will put us in a cage so we’re unable to sow our dissent to other individuals.
From womb to tomb, we’re physically and mentally enslaved to a corrupt global economy of aristocrats.
If this wasn’t true, then the media wouldn’t publish yearly reports that tell us (or at least those of us who do the math) that the top 85 wealthiest people in the world have as much money as the poorest 3.5 billion. To put in more detailed perspective how much money this is, if you dispersed the wealth of these elite 85 people to those 3.5 billion, then each one of the elites holds the equivalent wealth/power as 41 million other people would have combined.
And thus we have the modern day. And the root of all our issues:
The unequal distribution of wealth and the fear it instills in the have-nots.
Like those “fictional” poor that Orwell was talking about in 1984, this inequality forces us into hating each rather than those with power, money, and media control who are oppressing us. We let ourselves be extorted as slave labor, breaking our bodies until they break, then allowing ourselves to be further extorted as we ask for the basic human decency of compassionate healthcare. We have people who are forced into crime to merely to survive. Our communities shatter, and thus we feel lonely and abuse each other as we try to fill the holes of human connection that perforate our souls like a shotgun blast. We mentally deteriorate as we abuse drugs and numb our way through existence. And we let fear gain a deeper hold: the most damaging thing a human consciousness can bathe in.
Economic disparity riddles us with fear, numbing our individual minds and turning us against our community, ruining our ability to heal ourselves or be healed by those around us.
But there are 3 easy things we can each do to stop this…
Do you want to make the world a better place? Want to steal the power from the rich and put it back in the hands of everyone? Want to know education, health, home, and sustenance are a guarantee?
Stop obsessing over the news. It constantly paints a negative picture that stupefies us and makes us think the world is worse than it is. It’s depressing and it’s often riddled with lies and commercials that make you want to buy shit you don’t need. So, also…
Stop unnecessary consumerism. Stop getting roped into buying things you don’t need, especially when these things are only minor upgrades you desire because you want to look trendy and successful in the eyes of your peers for having the cutting edge. This peacocking is your ego being extorted by the elite. Buy local, try to fix things rather than instantly replacing them, use online tutorials to become a DIY master, trade with your community, and let thrift stores be your new Gucci.
But really, even if you love the news and you love shopping, then there’s still one thing you can do that is the most important solution of them all: stop being so judgmental of those who are different than you. All you have to do is put aside the part of your ego that makes you think you or your culture are somehow superior to anyone else. Stop surrounding yourself with people who only agree with you and make you a radical, and instead go out and seek those who uplift you in celebration of your mutual differences and the splendid lessons of reality you can teach each other. Stop letting petty differences, subcultures, and interests be cause for divisiveness. Let us educate each other to erase ignorance and xenophobia and ensure the cultural conversation respects all forms of life. Put down your titles and your boxes, and choose love over fear.
Thanks for your time.