I was asked in a comment to reflect on, my lack of participation in this election and my relationship with consumption before criticizing…
Here is my reflection: I live in a constant state of guilt and frustration, because I do not know how to live in this world. The world I envision and the one I live in are not the same. This disparity causes me much grief. Desires and consumption controls my life in such a way that I often feel powerless and lost. The things I say, the criticisms I make are not directed solely at some subservient public; they are most often directed at myself.
I am a consumer just as much as the people I chastise. I do not know how not to be a customer because I was bred to consume. Every aspect of my life, despite my parents’ strongest attempts to shield me, has been affected by a capitalist culture designed to make me a happy consumer. I assuming that the comment was made to make me think about my hypocrisy. I am not blind to this. I am a hypocrite and this fact causes me much suffering. I cannot stop being a hypocrite, because I do not know how.
Perhaps much of my angst and rage stem from the fact that I feel controlled and not in control of my own life. I do not feel free. Do not get me wrong; I do not take the physical freedom I have lightly. I know I am blessed to sleep every night in a beautiful home with everything I need to survive, an amazing little girl, and a great friend in my wife. Despite my blessings, I constantly feel like I am running in circles, and that I not only tolerate a rotten system that thrives on injustice, but that I am actively contributing to it.
I read my Zen books and understand the concept of starting with myself and taking it slow. But my awareness does not necessarily make it any easier.
The only way I see a way that I can become the person I want to be is to totally disconnect from the system and live off the grid. I am not brave enough to do this. Perhaps it is because I have a family and my choices are now not only mine. Please don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that I want to escape, or that my family is the only thing holding me back. I am not saying that at all. My family is the single most important thing in my life. My wife and my daughter sustain me. I am just saying that this sense of powerlessness may cause me to lash out.
It feels that the profit based-system has become so intrusive to our collective consciousness, that there is no escape. I feel like a prisoner to my own desires and needs. Perhaps this constraint and reduction of freedom is beyond politics and economics.
I am sure people will comments that say, we do what we can and try to work within the system, and I agree to an extent, but really then aren’t we are all hypocrites? I hate believing in and understanding revolutionary ideas, knowing my history, but still living the life of a reformer or worse a passive participant, or even worse, an active contributor to a system I can see is collapsing.
At the end of the day, I am just trying to learn how to find peace in a convoluted world. I may rant and rave, I may not participate in elections I don’t believe in, or I may have a dysfunctional relationship to consumerism; I am not denying any of that. I am just saying that I know no other way.