…Or lack thereof.
I know you’re used to post that are, at least, vaguely well formulated and thought out. This probably isn’t going to be one of those. Because, what I’ve been thinking about – among the multitudinous, swirling chaos that is my mind as of late – is about humanity and our culture. And that’s a complex subject that has threads in education, housing, exercise, health, work, and play.
There are probably more categories than that, but, like I said, multitudinous swirling chaos in here.
What’s been getting to me, more lately than in years past, is this seeming lack of humanity in our daily lives.
I know that sounds counter-intuitive to the point of being absurd on its face, but stick with me for a bit.
By lack of humanity, I am referring to how our institutions appear to not be engineered around some of the basic facts of being human. We sleep too little, work to damn much, rush from one project to the next without sufficient breaks, and generally try to conform to a system that is, in no way I can find, designed around the necessities and the vagaries of human existence.
Our public education system is designed around an industrial, assembly line model. Putting out children in batches, earmarked like replacement parts for the constantly glitching employment mega-machine. Our Higher education system isn’t much better. Most work places – not all of them, a fact which provokes my envy – are set up around a similar model. People as parts in the machinery. Cogs, they used to call us, when people were more familiar with how clocks and the original industrial machines actually worked. And who in the hell wants to be equated with a Cog? Also, what happens to cogs? when they malfunction, because they are such a basic part, they aren’t fixed. They’re thrown out and replaced with a newer one. Does that sound familiar? Does it sound like the way things ought to be?
And all of them are constructed around a basic idea that human beings can be treated like commodities; like resources.
(I’m sorry if you work in a Human resources Department, but the very name of your department is demeaning to human beings everywhere.)
Human Beings, are not resources. They are people. People who live, breathe, love, hurt, lose sleep, worry, and dream.
We want survival, but we also want fulfillment.
In sum, we want more.
We want to feel connected, and valuable – as if our contribution, if not our very existence, has meaning and is valued in our society. If you live in this world and work or go to school, then you’ve no doubt felt an absence of those things more than once this year, and this year is only 25 days into its existence.
I both work and go to school, and it’s fucking wearing on me.
I find it hilariously hideous that, for each of these paradigms, everyone I have to answer to thinks they have a monopoly on all of my time.
Teachers want you to spend all your time doing their work, and everyone of them acts as if their class is the only one I’m taking.
Bosses want you to stay over, work extra, not need or take breaks, come in on your fucking day off.
And none of them, not teachers, not bosses, sometimes not even your friends recognize that human beings aren’t supposed to, aren’t wired to, and can’t live that way.
Oh, some of us manage, for short periods of time, but the longer the period, the worse the crash after and the longer the recovery time required.
Now, I can understand if you’ve never experienced that kind of crunch on your time, and you don’t know what it feels like. I can see that, if that is actually the case.
But most, if not everybody aged adult or older, have felt it, have been bent half-double by it, and have had to spend an entire day on the couch watching tv and not thinking or engaging in any significant activity just to feel like a human being again enough to start the whole cycle over again. And the cycle always starts again.
It’s gets so that, instead of spending off time traveling, learning a new hobby, or engaging in social activities, we spend it trying to recover so we can do the whole meth-fueled merry-go-round again next week. Fuck fluoridation, I’m waiting for them to put Adderall in the water supply. And they’ll say they’re doing it to improve productivity…
…But I digress.
Maybe it’s just me. Maybe I’m doing too much.
But I can’t see how I have another option.
I’m in college, working towards my B.A. And I’m sufficiently in debt that to stop now is not an option as I neither have a job that will allow, nor do I look to get a job that will allow me to pay back my student loans without a degree. In my case, it’s going to have to be a higher degree than a B.A. So, I’ve got some more slog-time ahead of me.
For work, I have to take just about whatever job will work around my school schedule, and hopefully leave me some time to do my schoolwork.
I envy young people who have nothing to do except be a student. But I’m 35, nearly 36, and I can’t just be a student. I’ve looked into the options. There just aren’t enough grants, loans, or scholarships available for an older person, like me, to attend school and not have a job. There are not dorms for non-traditional students – as we are called. So, I have rent, and utilities and insurance. I have to buy food and stay warm and put gas in the car.
So, a job is a necessity.
Sorry, digressing again.
Back to something like my initial point…
…Personally, I am neck deep in the culture that is perfectly happy, if not gleefully and purposefully unaware, that I am a human being.
In fact, it looks more and more like our society and culture are trying to engineer human beings to be something other than what we are.
We are mushy, messy, complicated things. Living this life is a mushy, messy complicated affair.
And yet, our institutions seem to be geared only for rigidly structured, cold, efficient meat machines. And we are seeing, daily, the consequences of trying to jam something as amorphous as humanity into so rigid and cookie cutter of a mold.
It does bad things to the human psyche.
At least it does to mine.
I need to point out here, that I am not arguing for anything just now. I’ve been too busy to come up with a workable solution, other than, people: teachers and bosses need to unclench, tell the human resource and compliance people to piss off, and just let humans be humans.
Sometimes we need to slow down.
Sometimes we need to stop.
Sometimes all we need is more time to just be.
And if you’re in charge of anyone, ever, this is something you need to pay attention to.
Like I said, I don’t have answers right now. But that doesn’t mean the answers aren’t out there, even if we still need to discover them.
As a species, we have built the Great Wall, the Pyramids, the Interstate Highway System, and sent people to the fucking moon for christsakes. We can figure out how to live and work and be productive in a fashion that is not just in keeping with our humanity, but actually allows us to be, and live as our best selves.
Now, this is definitely not some, hippy-dippy, tune in, turn on, and drop out ideology.
I can’t stand most hippies, but that’s a rant about conforming to non-conformity that I’ll save for some other day.
I’m not saying, “burn it all down and start over” either.
I don’t think we’re there quite yet.
What I am saying is this; look at your life. Look at the lives of the people around you. Ask yourself if what you see is conducive to human flourishing, or if it is just the way it has always been?
Ask yourself if there is a better way.
There might be.
We may just be overlooking it in favor of adhering to tradition.
Then again, maybe it’s just me. But take some time to think about it, when you’re stuck in traffic, when you’re wolfing down your lunch, if you even get a 30 minute lunch break, when you’re missing sleep and socializing in order to work overtime, or finish school projects. When you’re missing out on your life trying to keep up with everything we have to keep up with in the modern era.
Take the time, if you can manage it, and ask yourself if this is the way you want to live?