Watching Charlie Rose last evening I was pleasantly engaged while listening to Barbara Ehrenreich- author, essayist and columist. She reminds us of the ill effects from which this culture suffers due to the positive thinking industry and all this implies; the kind peddled by motivational speakers one many times finds in corporate america.
Her ideas and comments on this topic are akin to my own considerations. The push for ordinary people to deny certain realities arising out of our economic and class system, is the cause for much harm to people.
Many who who find work in the business world are informed that sadness and other "negative" feelings are for failures, losers and non-productive people. This information or message is usually most powerful when relayed through tacit communication. However; overt articulated communications of this nature obviously also has adverse effects upon the human psyche.
Ms. Enrenreich, similiar to other serious writers such as Kafka, Freud, Laing et,al., explains why avoiding real life is detrimental to the human spirit. I think the following words of Franz Kafka would help to edify this essential message.
"You can hold your self back from the suffering of the
world, this is something you are free to do and is in
accord with your nature; but perhaps precisely this is
the only suffering you may be able to avoid."
This quote instructs that the only suffering one may be able to avoid is the suffering born out of "avoiding suffering." When one is taught to dis-respect the loss that is inherent within life either by attitude, demeanor, economics, culture or language one is rendered not only at a loss to deal with life but also made more pliable to accept the kinds of abuse that occur in subtle and not so sublte forms such as those found in corporate america.
Genuine suffering involves loss of loved ones, relationships, body function, mental capacity, esteem, and the like. Disingenuious suffering, the kind born out of a profit making capitalistic economy involves the loss of fabricated gains such as losing a money making account, a real-estate investment, a postion whereby you can exploit others for gain. To lose an attachment to such profit making instruments or entities- becomes a real threat to ones inculcated meaning and purpose in life. However, this purpose is never a stable one as it depends upon a lie, something that is not integral to life itself but imposed from a dominating economic structure that exists by exploting other human beings in order to yield monetary gain.
Too many people are miserable as a result of believing their state of confusion and saddness is somehow attributable to their personal character; when in actuality these "negative" feelings are a sign and symptom that something is terribly wrong within the very dynamics of a culture that at the same time creates and indicts these pains and fears.
In an effort to further clarify this I will utilize lyrics from two song writers in popular music. John Lennon in "Instant Karma" wrote- "Why in the earth are we here, surely not to live in pain and fear." Paul Simon writes in "American Tune"- "Many the times I've been mistaken and many times confused and I've often felt forsaken and certainly misused. ... I don't know a soul thats not been battered,I don't have a friend who feels at ease."
This ill ease or dis-ease is a product of a lie called america- The lie tells you that you are to blame for your feelings of abuse and misuse, for your so-called failures and so called gains. But wait until you are excluded from the excluders- when your fragile feelings begin to emerge more strongly- "Go to him now he calls you you
can' t refuse- when you ain't got nothing you'e got nothing to lose, your invisable now you have no secrets to conceal."-Bob Dylan.
Motivational speakers and self-help writers are a cottage industry that not only depend on you feeling "less-than," but expect it.
Are they soothe sayers? Or do they know that this lie called america produces such feelings of ill-ease that people will run to them for a quick fix in order to either remain in their abusive position or to go back to a similiar one.
Meaning, purpose and wholeness or being at one with life
'at one ment- atonement" involves the ability to see that all of us our vulnerable and all need is similiar. The differientaion of needs wants and desires is an illusion created to maintain an economic system that is quite fragile because if those, who are relagated to the bottom rung see that there is no difference other that coersive class control the system falls down upon itself.
This economic system in america maintains itself by promoting the idea that the onus for one's station in life falls to the individual. This understanding is so entrenched that only a few intellectuals are willing to apprehend this truth- However, the mass of people are for the most part too fearful to let go of the dynamics that are causing the very fear they fear.
I hope we all learn to allow genuine suffering to lead us to courage in order that we may respect the common sufferings all of us must embrace because this is the only way to bring genuine meaning to life.