Spending power has nothing to do with success. Reducing ourselves to commodities marks our complete failure. There’s nothing more irrelevant to success than accumulating the most matter, because winners aren’t confined to an economic system. Winners aren’t defined by how much gold or silver they’re able to hoard. Winners aren’t defined by how many assets make up their wealth portfolio. Currency simply isn’t an accurate unit of measurement when determining success. However, we must define success before we declare its attributes. Success, instead of procuring the most matter, is good action, good as in simultaneously beneficial to oneself and to the rest of humankind. Greed and licentious self-indulgence may be temporarily beneficial to oneself, but it corrupts society. The path to success can only be followed in a noble fashion; for this reason alone, Jesus didn’t need material wealth, power, and money in order to achieve success. Similarly, Mother Nature, doesn’t need to force us to respect her. Nature automatically commands our respect for such an intricate, life-sustaining design. Exploiting us for material gain or belittling us based on our net worth is the hallmark of failure, not of nature’s successes. Our spending power defines how much money we have, not the brilliance of our wit nor the purity of our moral consciousness.
Do we think? Or are we automations? Perhaps we’re selecting convenient and soothing “truths” as if we’re ordering from a restaurant menu. Perhaps we have an innate ability to discern truth from lies, illusions, and political theater. We know it’s illogical to manufacture truth. We know we can’t cram truth to fit inside our insular world view. Truth cannot be replicated nor altered. Nevertheless, so many of us force ourselves to believe in lies, because truth does not fit in our established paradigm. We presuppose that the world can bend according to our ignorance, but the world can be seen without this distortion. The only prescription we need is awareness. Just stop. Stop. Pay attention to what we’re doing. There are many ways to help pause our stream of inane thoughts, and one such tactic is writing. Writing, as an extension of our brains, logs the experience and therefore, illuminates how we process the input traveling through our senses. We’re free to open up completely, because paper doesn’t judge. Free from the bondage of self-censorship, we’re more apt to detect any lies we tell ourselves. Cognitive dissonance might not slip by our consciousness as it does when debating with one another. When it’s just us, our thoughts, and the courage to see beyond our blinding biases, our fear dissolves.
Standard education attempts an impossible feat. This system is designed to jolt children out of their ignorance, teach them all the discoveries brought about by human exploration, deliberation, and experimentation. This system, unfortunately, also fails miserably. Schools, universities, and similar institutions aren’t always reliable in enriching our minds. It seems as though trite learning methods we employ actually train students to excel as trivia masters. Students, seeking to retain the specific facts just to instantaneously spout them off, miss the whole point of education, and sometimes a teacher revisits a scientific principle or a specific detail in the text so many times, students become reliant on rote memorization instead of learning, learning why this branch of knowledge is important and how it affects our lives. Schools attempted to accommodate everyone and continually drove the vitality out of education. I think we all remember worrying about what letter or number would appear on our work instead of concerning ourselves with the didactic material. Hand in hand with grade obsession, test taking techniques dominate the lesson plan instead of content and the meaning behind the facts. Any personalized endeavor to learn is decidedly absent in the classroom but fortunately, standard education isn’t the only route to knowledge. Let’s thank God that there’s no monopoly on information. Tenets in certain academic fields shouldn’t be treated as trivia regurgitated back to please authority.
Why do we place high demands upon ourselves when we’re weary? We don’t expect technology to run without a power supply. We don’t expect our food to grow without life supporting elements like air, soil, and sunlight. We all breathe the same air and walk on the same soil, so let’s not forget that adequate nourishment of our bodies and minds makes work possible and considering our own sources of energy, our feverish, authoritarian work culture only clashes with our bodies’ design. Work cannot be done with more work. If we allow our bodies to recover, unspoiled rest will automatically follow every period of diligence. Why not embrace our genetic design, which is imbued with this cycle of work, rest, and work? We only exert our minds and bodies because we’ve reserved time for our rest. When we are sick, exhausted, or lethargic, we cannot even expect mediocre performance. The biological need for rest is not, of course, an excuse to sleep excessively or rationalize our way out of our obligations at work. We’re not born only to self-indulge and reward ourselves with a life of leisure. This is us taking care of ourselves, listening to our bodies no matter what outside influences urge us to go on. Stopping our work, observing, reassessing what we’re really doing also makes possible any moments of clarity or insight. Rest enables us to work for the benefit of ourselves and others.
We would all like to pursue our dreams peacefully, undisturbed by the people who hate. We would love to believe that all good people receive abundant blessings and all the bad face appropriate justice. Sadly, this isn’t the case. We don’t live in a just world and never was it meant to be. Neither nature nor the laws that govern it care if your heart is pure. Life and the vast universe that supports it are truly impartial, totally unfeeling. No matter how nice we are, some people will try to rob us of our self-worth. Their irrational contempt for us turns them into destroyers, and we can see their handiwork in what makes our society sick: the bullying, the political animosity, the class warfare, and the prejudice based on illness, disability, income level, race, sexual orientation, and employment status.
Why are we so eager to buy what we don’t need? Are we so devoid of passion that in order to feel truly alive, we have to spend money? Is it really worth it to spend our precious time, time we’ll never see again, dreaming of and purchasing our very own status symbols? If you play this kind of game, you’ll need commitment. You’ll need your pristine luxury car in your garage, your house in a nice suburban neighborhood, and don’t forget your tablet computers and high-definition flat screens. With all these toys, we’ll probably feel complete for a short while, but do we love life, ourselves, and the people around us? On the contrary, too many people compete excessively with each other, and our psychological needs aren’t being met. In fact, psychological distress, spawned by a lackluster life, compels us to seek one thing: an escape.