“The profound crisis of human identity brought on by living within a lie… appears… as a deep moral crisis in society. A person who has been seduced by the consumer value system… is a demoralized person. The system depends on this demoralization, deepens it, is in fact a projection of it into society.”
We can see the results of societal demoralization:
- Suicide at an epidemic level.
- Anti-depression pills are a multi-billion dollar business. (Think about how bad our economy would be if we WEREN’T depressed!)
- Counselors, therapists, “get well” techniques and writings by the millions… yet we are getting worse.
- Aimless people, living aimless lives.
What is our problem?
Perhaps the answer lies in Havel’s quote. Perhaps we are depressed because we are demoralized, and we are demoralized because we are depressed. We live in a society that denies that there is a “higher order of being” (or that order must be restricted to religious exercises and has no place in how we live our lives). We pretend that the individual human being is the most important aspect in our society — and yet we know, deep in our hearts, that this is wrong. We drift, like ships caught in a strong current, but lacking rudders…
This describes a society in desperate need of transformation…
Searching for an answer within the existing Breaker systems and structures is futile. The existing systems and structures NEED you to feel powerless, afraid, overwhelmed and demoralized. It’s how a toxic system maintains itself.
Think about this: How do a few prison guards maintain control over a population of hundreds, sometimes thousands, of inmates, many with long histories of violence and antisocial behavior? The answer is simple:
- Make sure the inmates hate each other more than they hate the guards. Support and incite racial and ethnic animosities and fears. Stir the pot.
- Make sure that controls are so seamless, inmates can’t/don’t think of what life would be like without the controls.
- Make sure that cooperation with the prison system is seductive (benefits for cooperation) and that nonconformity is punished (isolation; longer sentences, etc).
The conditions inside a prison mirror the conditions outside. The “Progressives” and the “Conservatives” are constantly at each other’s throats… without realizing that they have more in common than their “leaders” and the media would have us believe. Racial tensions and separations are escalating. And now, “masks” versus “anti-masks” has become a new battle line in our society. The interval between high school and job retirement is so rigidly controlled, most of us don’t have time or energy to stop and look around at our predicament. And, as Havel says, the seductive nature of our soft consumer lives hides the bed of nails most of us are stuck to.
So… what do we do? How do we combat this demoralization of self and society? My answer is both constant and simple: PAY ATTENTION. (Remember: “simple” does not mean “easy”!)
- In the barrage of political advertising we are enduring, ask yourself: “Who wants me to be afraid? Why?”
- When the umpteenth credit card application comes through the mail (or the umpteenth Viagra commercial displayed on your television), ask yourself: “Who wants me to be seduced? Why?”
- When your college or university tells you that you can only take X number of credit hours per semester, or saddles you with thousands of dollars in debt, ask yourself: “Who wants me to be controlled? Why?”
These questions are the keys to unlocking the prison of society. With more questioning, with more attention, we will find that we don’t even need keys: the bars and walls of this prison are made of tissue-paper.
Just pay attention to something else.