Monday, March 28, 2005

Giving up on trying...

...to blow people's minds.

See, did that statement "blow your mind"? Of course, it didn't.

Today I was getting ready for my first class, and I saw a young man with--with an overly tall beanie on, no less--preparing a powerpoint presentation on a lab computer. It was weird; mostly because it was as if I could actually read his mind. I looked at him, and then at the screen, and automatically the thought that popped into my mind was the voice of a hippie/stoner saying, "Man, this is totally going to BLOW THEIR MINDS!" He also had headphones, a dull stare, and a pen hanging out of his mouth in the manner of a cigarette...but those are all neither here nor there. The point is that it got me to thinking about people having their minds blown, and why it just isn't happening anymore:

I am pretty sure that it is a scientific fact that people stopped having their minds blown sometime in the late sixties/early seventies. There may have been a few holdover flower children who had blowings of the mind on into the early nineties, but that is because their drug addled brains still thought it was the sixties and were actually being amazed by things that had happened before but that they could not remember having happened. The point is that people just aren't surprised anymore. At least not in any sort of life-altering way.

Let's just say that the only people that still believe that minds may be "blown" are probably idealistic high-school or college kids who have probably just read a book (Fast Food Nation, No Logo, Walden, anything by Chomsky or Zinn, something about zen Buddhism, etc.) and are now in a position to write a report or give a presentation in which they can incorporate their new nuggets of knowledge. To these young people the world is blind, but needs only have it's eyes opened to what is really going on--and they are going to do exactly that.

Problem is, that most people are not blind. It turns out that a good many people have a good deal of knowledge, they just don't care. So when a wet-behind-the-ears undergrad finishes their presentation on capitalistic greed and American imperialism with a flourish that suggests that the word "voila" should probably have been used they are met with the dull stare of a crowd that intones, "Duh, but how does that effect my new station wagon and three bedroom in the suburbs." People already know that the world sucks. The world DOES suck. It would seem, then, that it is simply the hope of most people that the suckiness of the world will just stay put in countries who's names cannot be pronounced and who's locations remain a mystery, other than to say that they are "over there". The new apathy is one that assumes that the world is going to suck--no matter what. And, as long as that sucking is as far away as possible I can ignore it and everything will be okay.

I have come to terms with my apathy about the "new apathy". It is sort of an "if they don't care, why should anyone care" situation. Yeah, I understand that there are undernourished people working 80 hour weeks for a pittance in the third world, but seriously, that's their problem. Personally, I'd probably rather turn to a life of crime than work in a factory making things I cannot afford. I can't understand why other people do that. In fact, I don't think that they should do it. Sure, there should be a sense of community in the world, but how did it happen that people stopped being accountable for their own shit?

In the book Catch 22, Joseph Heller suggests that "they can do anything that we cannot stop them from doing." That is one (of many) of the catches in life that the book covers. As it applies to the global economy; of course companies are going to look out for themselves and try to maximize their profit, that's the nature of capitalism. Your job is to have the same attitude about yourself. Think of yourself as a company that must get the most profit possible for the product given. Companies will treat you like shit if you let them. However, if enough people refuse to be treated like shit the balance of power will shift, and the corporation will have to meet demands or suffer from having no work force.

I know this all sounds good in theory, and will be much harder to implement in real life, but when was anything worthwhile ever easy to attain? Everyone should watch their own ass. Of course you can help out your friends and neighbors, but try not to do so at the expense of your own health and happiness. It is up to everyone to not just "let things slide". If you do not expect the best, you will not be given the best. People who go through life super happy just have low expectations...of others, and of themselves.

This is not an essay aimed at getting people to stop trying to blow the minds of others...simply a series of ideas that might help people realize that they are responsible for their own well being before that of others. Raise your standards for the sake of a better life. A good deal of the time you will get exactly what you expect out of life, so start expecting more.

-A.R. Leith

"They're going to try and make you a martyr. They'll keep on pushing 'til you're pushing back harder."- The Dillinger Four.

4 comments:

Princess said...

what up sucka? I was just reading along and got the brilliant idea to harass you! So ha... ne ways, I'm dying to know; who’s the mystery girl? huh huh? well if you wanna be stingy and keep it a secret its not gonna help ne thing but ill understand. Have a GRRREAAT day Andy...

A. R. Leith said...

Who is this "Princess" person?

Princess said...

there are many clues for you in my last post if you cant figure it out than go back to the windy city! hey i missed you today!

A. R. Leith said...

Okay, how confused have I been. The posts from "princess" were in reference to a completely different post...the one about Snow. I had no idea what the deal was with the girl thing, because "Giving up on Trying" is all about socioeconomic self-help. But okay, I think I've figured out who the "Princess" is, and that's good. If she doesn't know who the mystery girl is...well that sucks. So corrections need to be made. One, upon recount the new girl who meets the categories is number six in life, not seven. Two, she is probably too young for me to be pining for, and that is just another one of life's little cruelties. Life, as they say (and by "they" I mean "I"), is just a series of dissapointments. Anyway, I told the mystery girl the following in person the other day, "I like you, and would hit on you if you if you were older, but you have the five qualities I look for in women." So that's out there, come what may.