Artistic Adventures

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Some thoughts about how our economy shapes our willpower

This post is artistic in a philosophical sense. I live according to the general belief that you have to face trials to grow as a person, with the realization that most people just don't want to.   
“Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.” –M. Kathleen Casey.
Here I have applied that belief to my perception of our country's social behavior, and how it is correlated with sustaining our economy. I won't pretend to be an expert about how corporate America works, but I think that people are losing their sense of will, because ads and the media are drawing on our primitive reactions to keep the economy sustained. I think that in our country, society should be sustained by the willpower of the people, and that people have the responsibility to strengthen their minds, and respect each others' right to choose.

We as human beings have our conscious reasoning, but we are also animals below the surface. When I was under general anesthesia for my wisdom teeth removal, I could still hear my own vocal responses during the surgery. They were automatic, and un-governed. This indicated to me that we are more than just our consciousness, rather we are a consciousness contained in an animal vessel.

Now, going off of the idea that we are animals beneath our conscious mindset, how do you think the media and corporate economy use that to their advantage? In an economy struggling to recover from a recession, the only way to sustain the economy is to keep money flowing. This means consumers must spend, and suppliers must provide. It's easy to believe that the vulgar ads and prejudice undertones of our society are all being dictated by a higher-up authority, but in fact according to economics there can only be a market if suppliers meet the demand of consumers. Are we being dictated by the media and corporation? Or are they simply responding to what we will consume?

We can't help but react to certain stimulation in our environment. The animal in us is geared towards certain stimulae because at one point in our biological history, people with these traits were the only ones who survived and reproduced. Fatty food, sex appeal, comfort and shelter, these are all things that at some point, were both vital and scarce, and only the few who attained them survived.

Now, in modern day, we are the children of those survivors. However, in our country we no longer struggle to attain the resources that were once scarce. Rather, there is such a surplus of these things that people are dying from too much rather than too little. Our corporate/media world only adds to this, encouraging whatever we will subconsciously respond to, because that is our strongest reaction as a society, therefore most profitable toward stimulating the environment. The result is that people are surrounded by unhealthy encouragement, and have abandoned moral reasoning for primitive 'satisfaction in the moment.' Our environment is drawing on our own survival instincts to sustain our economy.

But I can't help but think that this is counter-productive; shouldn't we be working to move forward? Human evolution shaped us into creatures with a rare ability: to choose whether or not to obey our primitive survival instincts. The strategy of feeding primitive instincts instead of our conscious reasoning seems to be causing us to evolve backwards, back into primitive animals. And what does that say about our economy? Is this way of life as we know it really worth sacrificing our most valuable trait? If sustaining our economy requires us to sacrifice our willpower, shouldn't we sacrifice that system instead?

And in terms of our responses to the media, it's not necessarily that we want a vulgar, greedy environment. Quite the opposite: the problem is our lack of willpower, and ability to decide for ourselves. Being conditioned into consuming whatever holds temptation has kept the free-thinking mind from spreading its wings. Our country was founded on the basis that everyone should have the right to choose. But now look at us. We have become weak without realizing it, for the sake of sustaining the system that brought us to this point in the first place.

Nothing can subliminally manipulate us into thinking for ourselves. We must make that effort, we must choose to take the step forward. It takes trial and error, but it's always for the better.
I say it's time to take a stand. Not against anything or anyone, but for yourself and for the right to choose. A country supported by the unwilling is a weak country, one that will not survive over time. But a country created by free-thinkers, who value and respect every person's right to learn to choose, will live forever.

When I look at the American flag today, I see the drowning vision of our founding fathers, struggling to survive in a devolutionary world. This fading vision is one of freedom, of learning from our trials, of rising every time we fall and making our own discoveries down a new path of life. My hope is that ten years from now, I will look at the flag again and feel differently. My hope is that not only will these founding values survive and regain the spotlight, but that they will be further evolved to truly include all people of the world.

We generalize that this country is about freedom. But what does that really mean? It's easy to confuse lack of restriction with lack of responsibility. But we have the responsibility, to learn to think for ourselves. Life will always involve struggle. This is beyond human control. No government can take away struggle without taking away life. But as the late Nelson Mandela put it "The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall." In my eyes, a free country is one where we are willing and allowed to struggle towards the rise, and learn to strengthen those parts of us that set us truly free.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

A sentimental Treasure Trove

It's been a while, it seems. Much has changed, but much is still the same.

I still love things like this:

But I'm older now. I also love things like this:

 “Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.” –M. Kathleen Casey

 “Behind every successful woman is herself.” –Anon

 “A true friend stabs you in the front.”-Oscar Wilde
 Worry casts long shadows of small things.” –Swedish Proverb

What has changed? I've learned to love. And by that I mean, I've learned how to balance depending on other people with depending on myself. I've learned to forgive people. I've learned to listen. I've learned that whatever you set your sights on, you move toward. And that many people don't look very far. Last semester I watched a video in which Neil Gaiman gave a commencement speech about 'moving toward the mountain,' and I've not stopped thinking about it since. I think if more people knew how much power they have, they would grow more.
I've also learned to stop worrying. This has its advantages--saves a lot of energy, and makes more room for healing. The downside is I've passed the midpoint and started slacking. I don't want to slack--I keep my sights on the mountain. But once you start off behind, it's an even bigger challenge to catch back up.
I'm also learning to network, as is necessary to find jobs or, more urgently, internships. It's making me think a lot about what I really want to do. This is a difficult question--I love to do so much (make things, think about life, listen to people, do yoga, travel, learn new ideas...). It occurred to me today that I could write newspaper columns from my constant philosophical pondering--or keep a blog (which is how I got here). Or I could have been a music major. Or a dancer. Or an FBI agent. Or an Astronomer. Or a theater-owner who writes stories. Or a person who travels to other countries to help people. Someone once said "specialization is for insects."  *Googles quote* Robert A. Heinlein.
But I've been realizing lately that I have a huge field of vision about the future...I see a very large, distant mountain. Around here, people don't seem to have huge goals, or know how to come up with goals. But I know what I want to do: as much as I can do. I know it sounds vague, but it's actually very specific on a broad scale. But time is precious and ever-crowding, and I fear I'm reaching the point in one's life where there is never a full day to just let whatever happens happen....those were the days when I created many things. I miss creating. My school work demands so much, yet so little...So much time, yet so little growth. I try to grow from it...I try to see the positive outcome and work hard towards it. I do feel that I've grown very much since I started college...Looking back, I've grown in many ways I never expected to. But on a day-to-day level, it's getting harder to tell that my heart is being fed, because it's just so hungry for one particular thing: time to create. I'm also at that age where one's mind fossilizes the paths that have been traveled, and starts a new chapter permanently based on them. I'm afraid that the longer I neglect something, the harder it will be to get it back. I used to bring new ideas to life without questioning them. I'm under the influence of What Is Socially Acceptable, as well as What Is The Highest Priority. I've zoomed in on the world of how fragile words can be to people, as well as how one's time is taken over by work. I've learned to interact positively with a broad range of people, and I've learned to prioritize my time to fit in a full night's sleep. These things have taken all my focus lately (besides one other thing), and I can manage...but my heart is hungry. Or rather, I should say it's full, because it wants to empty itself via creative expression. But that takes undivided focus, and there is always something that needs to be done before I can sit down with myself. The longer I neglect it, the more time I know it will take to get back in touch with it...This would cause me anxiety if I hadn't learned to just breathe and relax. It does make me feel longing, though. Intense, sentimental longing, mixed with the pressures of urgent priorities. Part of me doesn't want to miss out on what my soul has to say...the other part is trying to keep my academic head above water.

I guess I had more to talk about than I realized. I called up an old leader from church yesterday, who I've hardly spoken to since middle school, and we chatted for two whole hours like we just saw each other yesterday. It made me do a lot of reflecting. I'm so much older than when we last saw each other...but at the same time, some things haven't changed...they've just been built upon.

Will anyone read this? Who knows. These are just the ramblings of a post-teenage girl changing her wardrobe from sweatpants to pencil skirts.