by Reed Klein
Among my small group of friends, most of them think that civilization will revert itself back to a primitive state of existence—where we use stone wheels and run around bonking each other on the head with big, wooden clubs.
Then I ask them, so why are you still here? Why go on living if you expect the world to blow itself up and mankind, displaced, to start all over?
They usually stop and think for a moment, then admit that they do not know.
I’ve seen it as a trend more and more among people my age—people who do not know the reason for their opinions. Fueled by maybe religion, maybe TV, maybe mass-publicized magazines, maybe what their teachers tell them.
Maybe what it comes down to is indifference. An indifference to see with their own eyes or feel with their own hearts when it’s all explained for us right in front of our noses—through flat-screen television, and chalkboards, and through monitors, and magazine columns.
And how many people are really paying attention? We live in the most momentous time of the history of planet earth, maybe in the history of the universe, yet people do not even bother to vote.
Most of the people I see around campus do not even know the provisions of the health care bill, or who their local congressman is. Maybe these things mean nothing, or maybe they mean everything. We are the generation that grew up with 9/11 for God’s sake—an event that, although not in human casualties, is equivalent to either of the momentous World Wars in the first half of the last century.
We’re the generation that is growing up with global warming, with over-population, with more ways than ever to overdose, with more ways to lose your house, and more greed than humanly imaginable. And yet, for the most part, I notice indifference. We’re so caught up in online profiles, or our under-paid jobs, or waiting for the next sitcom to come on, or chasing a grade in a class that we’ll remember little about when the summer months come and there is no school.
I suppose I’m as equally hypocritical—I don’t throw Molotov cocktails at government institutions, or participate in big marches across the nation’s capital, nor am I entirely outspoken at every public rally. I am just as caught up in the bullshit as everyone else—so much that I even must quit this class, journalism, so that I can fulfill college requirements and “move on.”
But this doesn’t mean that it’s too late for us to change things. There was a popular expression once that I now hear less and less:
Why don’t you stop and smell the roses?
I think this expression came from the Buddha, who, when asked how to attain enlightenment, silently bent down and plucked a flower, bringing it to his nose and smiling at it. This was his response—a moment to stop and enjoy the immediate things around him.
Maybe we all don’t have flowers around us, but we certainly have the potential to grow them.
What is absurd is that most of us, who know or at least guess that this is a bullshit way of going about life, will not change it. We will do nothing about it.
We will go on chasing good grades and building up those resumes and shooting for those high salaries, and raise those kids in a big house somewhere, where, hopefully, if we’re lucky (and it certainly does not look that way) we’ll be able to retire and do nothing for the last 15 years of our lives because we earned it! Like we knew all along that we were sacrificing what we really wanted to do just so we could have the last 15 years to fuck around with our wrinkly bodies in diapers, hobbling in walkers to go pour another glass of brandy and “enjoy ourselves.”
If you are doing what you really want to do then you will do it until the day you die or the day they force you out of the front door. Not a moment sooner.
But for a lot of us, we are sacrificing what we really want to do just so we can look normal or ensure a plate of food for tomorrow.
When I told my uncle, who is paying for my college education, that I wanted to be a philosopher, he looked at me wide-eyed and said, “But how will you make any money?!”
I just shook my head and walked away. He was just as perplexed as he was aggravated. That’s when I realized that it’s all about making money. Really the only reason we go to school in the first place is to get a good-paying job.
“That’s life,” my mom says.
I think it’s time that we stop and smell the roses so that we have some time to wonder “is that really life?”
I know this article will not change much, but if I can get just one person to talk about anything mentioned here, then it will have served its purpose, showing that it’s still possible to stop, look around, and question our surroundings.
Maybe you think I’m silly. If so, you should let me know by replying in the comment box or calling at 425-442-9567. If you do think I’m wrong and don’t do anything about it, then you would allow my ignorance to breed and go unchecked, contradicting yourself and proving my point that the vast majority of us have become indifferent while getting caught in the net of modern society.
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