Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Living Ourselves To Death

Life could be so much simpler than it is. Mankind seems to thrive on complicating things and creating chaos.

That's the thought that came to me while I was having to scurry to take care of some crucial business this morning. In a better world, I would have gotten up feeling rested and read my morning Bible verse with a prayer before getting on with my day. Instead, I woke up feeling overwhelmed and rushed.

We live in a world where everything is truly a race to be won. I think of it as "living ourselves to death."

You take something as simple as clothing. Clothing is there to cover our nakedness. Simple, except we don't see it that way. We've made an industry of it. You can't just cover yourself, you have to wear certain colors and textures to suit the occasion. Instead of all clothing being decent and acceptable overall, we've made it almost socially mandatory to wear certain things for certain occasions.

We can't just have transportation. We have to have a certain type of car or truck, in  a certain color (which changes from year to year like some kind of "fashion statement.") Even if you have a certain model, you might have the less desirable style... Really? Isn't the whole point of transportation is safely getting from one place to another? Why should it matter so much what kind of status or fashion statement we are making? It's so silly.

We humans are such strange creatures. We can't have anything without trying to up the ante.  We can't just have soap to be clean, healthy and less offensive. Couldn't stop there. Nope. We have to add other smells and additives. We don't want bodies that are simply clean. We have to have skin that feels one way or another. And in the end it's still just skin. With all the smells that add to lotions and soaps these days, I don't remember what a real piece of fruit or spice actually smells like if I haven't had it for a while. My nose is confused! LOL

Hair is just hair if you have it.  It covers the head. I don't know how we got to the point where we will sew it into our scalps, weave it onto what we already have, spend thousands of dollars and so much time into beating it into our will.

We have to make an industry out of everything.

I know that we need some of the things we have made. We want to be comfortable and clean and healthy, but we just have to take everything from the simple to the extreme to the silly.

We take everything & put man-made standards on it to complicate it, put out of reach of some or make it into a status symbol. We don't know how to be content and comfortable for long before we start dreaming up ways to give ourselves something else to worry about.

And the result of all of it? We create stress for ourselves. We create self-esteem issues. If you are too poor to keep up with certain "standards," or born with the odd color of skin or hair or body type, you end up in counseling and therapy.

The saddest thing is that we have forgotten how to put the brakes on. We get so caught up and carried away by the stream of social movement that we don't stop and wonder why. All the time and money and effort we waste on the silliest things would be better used in our being courteous to fellow human beings and good stewards of what we have.

We have forgotten to use our hearts as much as we have learned to use our heads.

We could just be simply living, but we invent ways to keep busy with being complicated. It's such a cycle of "enough is not enough."

A big effect of all this is that we adjust ourselves to the messes we make. For instance, instead of having people who are brutal, jerks, rude or dangerous meet a more decent standard, we just accept it and try to learn to protect ourselves from them. (And if you think people can't learn to be decent, just think of how easily they have learned to be the way they are. It's all in what is accepted and tolerated.)

We reward the wrong things. We reward the greedy and ruthless by calling them "ambitious" and "go-getters." We've stopped rewarding honest hard work because we'd rather reward anything that makes the most money.

We think of ourselves as being "modern," "progressive," and "forward thinking." We talk of looking to the future and "the next big thing." What we have forgotten is the simple pleasures in personal joy and contentment. I'm pretty sure that "contentment" is not a word that we want to think about if we have to give up "ambition."