On the surface, it may look like a war is fought between people. But it starts between the ears. The voice inside your head, the Other, whatever you want to call it: that which mediates between good and evil. That’s where war begins.
I see us slipping. Collectively we have risen to great heights, and together we will fall with the tip of a single decision. We will look and we will blame, we will say “it wasn’t I who dropped the bomb.” But it was you. It was me. It was us.
Every morning we wake, and the day presents us with a series of decisions. We can do the right thing, or we can do the easy thing. We can do what makes us feel good for a fleeting moment, or what helps us over time. We can listen or we can argue. We can stand up or cower to the dragon of fear.
It starts with our society’s obsession for making things easy. I’ve been working on a joke, maybe more of a thought, about how grocery stores are ruining the fabric of our society. It may sound ridiculous at a glance, (which is why it sets up well as a joke) but it’s a representation of a thought which has dominated my mind for years: convenience will be the death of us.
In a society where we can order food in the palm of our hand and have it delivered to our doorstep within 30 minutes, why would we ever do anything challenging? When evil comes knocking at your door instead of the delivery man, why would you do anything but cower? When the right thing to do is cook the food in your fridge but the easy thing to do is push a button, and you choose the button, what makes you think you’ll stand on the side of good when things really get tough?
We can tell ourselves whatever lies we want to believe, but we’re all slaves to our habits. If we’ve been conditioned to choose easy over and over again, that’s exactly what we’ll do. We’ll find ourselves with an easy life and a hard death. Which is precisely why so many people are afraid to die. It’s not what waits on the other side, but that single moment when you lie on your death bed and realize you’ve wasted your life. I can’t help but wonder if time comes to a standstill in a moment like that and your soul becomes trapped.
Almost all of us are addicts. We love our drugs, our screens, our food, and our money. The hedonist’s dream awaits in a world full of easy-access pleasure. Once we’ve become addicted, getting our next fix takes precedence over anything else, and getting our next fix is easier than ever. It takes no effort to be an addict in the modern world. Our addictions live in our pockets, wherever we go.
My ultimate concern is that it’s getting harder and harder for us to do the right thing, and we don’t even know it. Obviously, I’ve never lived in any period of time besides this one, but through reading old texts, it seems there used to be a much greater emphasis on a moral code. Life was much harsher in the past, so people had to have something to believe in, whether it was religion or spirituality or a giant boulder… whatever. The point is, the belief in something greater seems to have been ubiquitous in the past.
I get concerned when I see the lack of belief in people of the modern generation, especially amongst young adults and teenagers. Maybe it’s just part of being young, because I’ve been no different for most of my young adulthood. I’ve always had a tendency to think about things in an overly rational and scientific manner. I would think “there’s probably no God because that doesn’t make sense. How can there be something all-loving in a world full of pain and suffering?” But I think my idea of “God” was too narrow. I always associated the idea of God with formal religion. I thought it had to be some guy in the sky always watching over us. Now, I would define God simply as “something beyond.” Maybe it’s consciousness, maybe it’s something from another universe that created this one, maybe it really is just some douche constantly watching over us. I don’t know.
I’m most fascinated by consciousness. What is that voice? The voice I talked about at the beginning of this post. The one that you’re always negotiating with. The one that says “I don’t think you should do this.” Whatever that is, I believe in it. It appears more real to me than this table I write on or this chair I sit in. People pose questions like, “are we living in a simulation?” or “is any of this actually real?” I don’t think it matters. I think what matters is that we believe it’s real and we act as if it’s real.
What worries me is that we’re drifting further and further away from being able to listen to our conscience. Blaise Pascal wrote in the 1600’s that “All of humanity’s problems stem from his inability to sit quietly in a room alone.” He wrote that in the 1600’s. If it was a problem then, what in the name of a Hyundai Sonata is it now!?
We’re more stimulated and distracted than ever. Most days of the week, I go to the gym and I take a sauna. I don’t take anything but my sexy body into the sauna. I watch dude after dude come in, sit down, and start tapping and swiping on their phone. I hear them blast music, take a sip of water every fifteen seconds, and constantly switch positions and move around. It’s rare to see someone just walk in and sit down. Especially if they’re below the age of 40. It’s uncomfortable to sit in a 180 degree room with nothing but your thoughts, but that’s all it is. Uncomfortable.
We seem less able to bear the smallest amount of discomfort. The sheer mention of a cold shower to another person makes them audibly scream or act as if they’ve just been stung by 14 bees.
We’re losing the war in our mind because we’re not even fighting it.