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.