So tell me again… why are we all working away our whole lives on someone else’s projects?
Homo Sapiens is Latin for wise person. For nearly 200,000 years that appeared to be the case. Over the past 200 years or so many of us have lost our wisdom and replaced it with something perverse. As the band Skid Row once sang, “Can’t be king of the world if you’re a slave to the grind.” We are enslaved by a rather new phenomenon in human history we call employment. We have become wage slaves.
Recently in Paris, the French took to the streets to protest the governments expansion of the 35 hour work week. Many Americans of course balk at such a limited work week but then again when it comes to the indoctrination of employment we are near the top of the class. We pride ourselves as hard workers but we fail to see that making a living is not actually living. We continue to grind away at a life style that is neither rewarding nor sustainable in any way, shape, or form. In fact we seem to be the gold standard for how to live within the world. Our standard of living is insane.
Today as we face abrupt climate change, overpopulation, pandemics, nuclear meltdowns, draughts, methane leaks, oil spills, poisoned drinking water, contracting economies, depleted oceans, and an ever expanding gap between the wealthy and poor, but we are still convinced our way of doing things is the only option we have. So we put our blinders on and go to work. We are the oil that lubricates the machine known as the global economy. We are enslaved to it. What we fail to realize is we can also shut it down.
Shutting down the economy sounds insane until you compare it with what it costs in terms of life. You see there is no economy if the economy destroys the very foundation which supports it. Our precious economy is destroying the very planet which gives it life. So we are in fact slitting our collective throats by remaining enslaved to our jobs and careers. We are a species who belong to a large family of other species. We are all Earthlings. We are not lawyers, teachers, human resource directors, architects, bus drivers, sales persons, plumbers, or any other profession we confuse with our identity. We are human beings not human doings. It’s time we break the cycle of our dysfunctional loyalty to our professions or go the way of the Dodo.
On a personal level we have committed to a prison term with a dangling carrot at the end. We ignore the toll that a lifetime of employment has on our health and relationships. Stress is the underlying killer of our collective lives and time spent away from the important people in our lives in justified as a means to an end. There’s no doubt we have to support the life we were born into but never challenging such a predicament is exactly what completes our domestication and eventual indoctrination. What sane, rational being spends upwards to 50 years of their life going to a place to produce in order to pay passage on this spinning ball in space?
In order to break such a dysfunctional cycle we must challenge and change the story we tell ourselves about ourselves. It requires us to move well beyond our comfort zones. If we don’t then we can expect the ongoing disaster known as industrial civilization to keep its boot on our collective throats. I am no longer a wage slave. I escaped captivity nearly five years ago. I’m not saying I don’t make money from time to time. I am saying it no longer rules my life. Most of my days are spent outside of employment and making a wage. It took some planning and nerve but when I left my career I never looked back.
We are all in different circumstances so our escape plans will vary greatly. Whatever your situation is my suggestion to you is to look for opportunities that meet your basic needs with little to no monetary exchange. Alternatives like working for room and board, bartering and the gift economy are just a few ideas to explore. Anything you can do to avoid participation in our destructive economy will not only ease collective suffering but personal suffering as well. You will begin to experience living for the first time and that is something that we all desperately need.
Ishmael author, Daniel Quinn reminds us that we belong to a culture within our own species that locks up the food. We have to pay to live on this planet. Let that soak in for a minute and then do the only rational thing left to do … begin planning your escape and give your two weeks notice.
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