In between yoga and meditation, and while practicing mindfulness and focusing on the power of positivity, I’ve been pondering a question that has occupied the restless minds of Americans for years – why are we so damned miserable?
We enjoy one of the highest standards of living on Earth, unless you’re one of the unfortunate number of poverty-stricken individuals struck by the ass end of capitalism, that is.
We all have cellphones and TVs and laptops and X-boxes and tablets and multiple cars, knick-knacks and whirly-gigs galore.
We have freedom others hate us for – or do they hate us for our destructive and exploitative foreign policies, I can never remember.
Our grocery stores look like gourmands’ dreams and we are at least half of that fabled state of being “fat and happy.”
We haven’t had to deal with mass starvation, drought, pestilence or plague and haven’t had a war fought on our own soil since the one that half of us started against the other half in the Civil War 150 years ago.
How can we have so much, and still be so miserable? I think it’s because we have been reduced to our monetary essence. We are beset by commoditization – and our lives are the commodity.
We are only as valuable as the money we make and spend. And we never seem to make enough or spend enough to satisfy all the needs the corporate state has convinced us that we have.
Everything about our lives is determined by our wealth or lack of same. Our access to clean water, air and nutritious food, quality healthcare, fulsome education and justice in our legal system; our safety from crime or from the police, and that most precious commodity of all – time to enjoy all that we have – depends on digits amassed in our bank accounts.
So we spend nearly all of our time, energy and devotion to the pursuit of capital, thinking that it will lead us to happiness. But our system is designed to always demand more from us. It is designed to dangle just out of reach, like the gold ring from antique merry-go-rounds, all that will make us whole and make us happy.
It is never satisfied because it is the nature of capitalism to constantly seek new markets, new consumers, new slaves. Quarter over quarter increases, year after year, capital must grow at all costs.
And as the chasm between the richest and the poorest grows alongside the capital of the uber rich, those in the middle run ever faster in pursuit of the elusive state of satisfaction. We seek it at all costs, our health, our time, our very lives.
And the greatest cost of capitalism – unchecked and untempered by compassion – is our humanity. And our happiness.