This is the first time ever that someone asked me to write about a topic. It is a strange feeling and it puts to write it carefully. I usually do not care about the language semantics and so and that is not what I am worried about. But, it is very easy to have a communication gap. Communication can break for a simple topic as well e.g. if someone asks you to get a bread. The end result is that one is hungry and need to eat. But the options available today to buy or bake a bread are enormous. It is very easy to make a mistake even in such a small and simple topic, let alone if you have to write something, where every sentence may lead to a different understanding. So, what is the request? In my understanding it is about what are people trying to get out of their life, what are they running for, what makes them to keep going to shopping markets, what makes them to keep on buying new clothes, what makes them to buy new gadgets, cars and so on, who are they expecting to impress, is there an end to it and so on. I believe you kind of understood what this is about. In one way, it is a very simple topic. Many have written about it and some called it rat-race. I wrote couple of times earlier on similar lines as well. But that is now already in the past. Now is a new world and let’s see if I can paint a different picture with the same topic in mind.
Thanks to the modernization and economic growth, this topic is valid to more than 50% of the population around the world. I believe that percentage is much better than 50%, but I am just playing safe here. The people on the other side of this line, do not care about it and probably won’t even understand, what I am taking about. E.g. the native tribe in Amazon forest or some small village in Africa or some distant island with limited resources. It is not that they do not have struggles in life, it is just they have different equation with different parameters and weightages when it comes to evaluating what is important in life and what they need to pursue.
For the other 50%, just look around yourself. You will see people with full clothes on. Not just clothes, but branded ones from famous names in the industry. People have storage full of clothes, but still when they stand in front of it, they feel that they have nothing to wear and get an urge to go and buy some new clothes. Same goes for shoes, bags, wallets, sun glasses, household objects and so on. When they are all dressed up, a lot of them end up in their vehicles and driving to some bar, coffee shop or restaurant to meet friends and have some relaxing time. This is usually backed up by the idea that they have a lot of work and getting tired doing it. Ironically, during these discussions they would talk about buying some new car or going on some far away vacation or for some trying to see how to buy a house, apartment and so on. This simply means they are finding more reasons to get more work and get more busy.
Everyday you can see hundreds and thousands of people in the marketplace for one or the other reason. Some of them do not even know why they are there in the first place. It is like some kind of autonomous system that they end up in the market place. And once you are in marketplace, you would end up doing some transaction anyway. For others they are there probably to buy some stuff, for which they are convinced they have real need in life. They would be convinced, if they won’t buy it now, the life would be really hard to live. Surprisingly, most of those things end up in some corner never to be used like most of the mobile applications people install on their smart phones.
People are even so convinced of there needs that they will take loans to meet them. Needs, like going on a vacation or to buy a computer or a mobile phone of even holiday gifts. These are the needs that must be fulfilled. There are other needs, which sounds more necessary than the above mentioned. Needs like buying a scooter, car or a house. Just that these things need bigger loans and bigger commitments. Some people do have a need lets say for a car, because they run a business and need to carry things around and overall it would make business easier with economic sense. But there are people who would buy a car to go their work, because they cannot wait for the bus. Some would buy it to use it twice a year to travel, because it is complicated to use public transport. This also mean that they have loans to pay every month, annual maintenance, taxes and so on included in their budget. Same is the case for the house. It may be just 2-3 people who need a place to live, but it needs to have guest rooms, a small garden, parking for a car, basement for all the things they don’t use, a small porch to sit and relax during some day when they have free time.
All these needs usually mean they have more work, more stress and less time to do all those things they thought they will. As the car helps them to move around, they start to use it just to move around thus spending time on other things than they originally planned. They only get to use their garden when there is an obligatory birthday or some event organized. Never do they have time to just sit. If they ever get some free time, they want to fly somewhere far from their home, which they bought for their comfort. Almost never they get time to sit, relax and think if they are using those things for what they thought they will. People never have time to stop and think as to why they do not have time? Why they cannot meet their friends or family on regular basis? Why can’t they have family dinners regularly other than some obligatory festival or event? Instead whatever time they get in late evenings after work they spend complaining about many things, including no-time, politics, capitalism, industrialism, manipulation of people, rich vs poor and so on.
Once Mulla Nasruddin was running with his scooter on his side. He was pushing his scooter hard and was full of sweat. One of his friend saw it, came to him and ask him what is going on? Is something wrong with his scooter? Mulla Nasruddin said, “No my scooter is alright”. Friend asked again, “Are you out of petrol then?”. Mulla Nasruddin replied again, “No, I make sure that I always have petrol in my scooter”. Friend confused asked again,”So, why are you pushing the scooter and not riding it?”. Mulla annoyed with questions replied, “I know you are my good friend. But, please do not waste my time with all these questions. I was late to work and I do not have time to stop and kick start the scooter!!”
I believe I managed to paint an overall picture of the situation. I do not want to list every single situation which our species goes through today. If you ask people what they need at the end of the day from their life, you may get variety of answers. More or less majority of those answers would be they want to have more time for themselves without worrying about bills and EMIs. There are many researches and many articles about life values and what is worth and what is not. But, interestingly we were build like that or we developed with time to ignore such lessons. I am sure most of those who are struggling to pay their EMIs and always have an excuse as to why they are busy have read this article on top regrets of people before dying. If not then give it a read or just to refresh your memory, if you have forgotten it. But, why they still keep on doing it? Like many things in life, there is no one answer to it. I would explore some of those below. I have written on some topics earlier, but probably from different perspective. Please keep in mind, there may be other reasons as well, which goes into this basket. At the same time not each of this reason is equally important to all. For every person, every family there are different priorities and thus demands different actions, if they wish to change something in their life.
I remember reading the life necessity pyramid in school. It was just a simple diagram that made sense. For me, it was that the base is the most important thing. The next layer is based on the lower layer, thus we need to make sure that lower layer is setup properly, before we starting climbing up. As we move up the pyramid the area is small and thus you need less of it in life. The last lesson was if we put the pyramid upside down then life would be unstable and it would need a lot of work to keep in balance. However, people are different and they read and interpret different things even if the source is same. Maybe some people interpret it that higher the level, the most important it is. Maybe this is why they keep throwing hooks higher in the pyramid and keep hanging or trying to climb up. They forget to take care of basics like food and rest in the effort to climb up.
I am not sure exactly how it started. But, to my knowledge we started to decorate ourselves and our surrounding to attract mates. At one point it was only a genetic phenomenon. The female would select a partner, which is stronger, attractive and is unique. With time we started to paint our bodies with mud or some other colors we came across. We started to use leaves and stems and other items to create fancy dresses, ornaments to “create” a beauty. This beauty at the end is creating a facade. On one side it is true that we need to value someone who put so much effort to impress the mate, but with time we started to only value that facade and forgot to value the reality underneath. Not many ladies would tell you that they do makeup to impress a man, but it is to beautify themselves just for their own sake with social pressure. The same way men would also keep on looking well “decorated” woman in comparison to someone sitting without makeup in a simple dress despite what they tell you if you asked. Today, I believe it is the same facade in action. It is no longer just to attract mates, but almost every aspect of social life. We even have some kind of unwritten social conducts, where we go out of reach to create that facade. All this comes in the forms of clothes, gadgets, houses, trips made per year, parties thrown per year and so on.
We value short term gain/pain more than long term pain/gain. For this reason, we value the short term gain of having a bigger house now than the pain of paying the instalments for almost whole of our life. We value the short term pleasure of having an expensive vacation than putting effort for consistent, satisfying long-term relationships. The same reason we value the pain of going to work by foot and public transport more than having long term back pain, obesity and other lack of activity related illness due to daily use of cars. It is much easier to go to a bar and try to drink off your troubles than trying to work on yourself to improve your life over the long term.
I wrote earlier how we developed that mindset to get everything easy and how it makes many of things in life at the end hard. I would just list few examples here . E.g. if we have pain in the back, it is much easier to take a pill and move on. Combined with short term gain emphasis, we can do that on regular basis rather than trying to work on the root of the problem to strengthen or relax our muscles or to get rid of bad working habits. The same goes for other things in life. It is much easier to buy food in a restaurant or to get it delivered than making it yourself. In this way, if something is wrong then you have an easier option to blame someone else than learning yourself how to cook better. This of course means a little expensive lifestyle for which we need to work a little more.
With advancement in civilization we have developed a mindset where we believe and think more about our rights than our duties. I wrote once about this topic, but sure I can write few lines here not being lazy. This sense of human rights has gone so deep, that a lot of us today believe that we have right on everything, as we think it should be, just because we are born. This sense when mixed with facades, makes us believe that we must have a car like others, we must have a house or maybe more like others and we have the right to travel everywhere as we read others doing it. Independent of what I do, I should have means to do all those things as that is my right. People have come to believe that they need to spent a certain amount of hours at some place and then everything should be given to them. It includes all of the above plus healthcare, unemployment benefits and other kind of coverages. At many places those things are available, but they are not enough to meet the needs of facade and inverted pyramid. This makes people trying to keep on jumping to the higher levels of pyramid with an assumption that once they are there, everything will be all right.
There was a time when people fought individual fights everyday in the open. Soon, it became group fights and the version of fights evolved. It was no longer just the might of brute force, rather the battle of minds. It was mind controlling the physical power. As it continued those groups won, who could manage to organize themselves better. In general it meant that they had some people who could think better than the rest including some other attributes. The hierarchal system changed from the physical alpha to mental alpha at the top. Of course as the groups became bigger, different strategies were needed and used to ensure that people follow certain rules and thus behave in some expected manners. Mostly it meant that a certain group can survive against the other. During the time of kings and kingdoms, it was common that kings used power to control people and thus keeping them in need of the powerful. The common man at that time had simple needs and didn’t think a lot of rights and freedom etc. At the end he would move from one king to another. With time as the education increased the common mental capacity of the species increased. This made use of brute force impractical, useless and unlawful at international stage. Now was the time to create a new system. This is where advancements in psychology came to help. In addition to psychology new financial system was created. Once again few smarter people than the rest realized that the best way to keep people in control is to let them believe that they are in control and they are the one deciding for themselves. No more food and other supplies were distributed/controlled by authorities. People were given a free market and free mind to decide what they buy, what they eat, where they go and so on. Let’s take an example of cigarettes. The producer and government make the product available and highlights also that it is bad for an individual health. It is now up to those free people, if they decide to smoke or not. No one came with a gun forcing them to smoke. The new smart people use their freedom and independence to spend their money to smoke. They get addicted and sick. In some situation things go so bad that they lose everything else to keep on smoking (one or the other substance). But the new kings are not responsible for that, it is the free people who made their own choice. Of course people still want to take an easy path to blame the industry, government and companies for all of it. For a lot of them, they do not want to take the hard path for their long term health. They are happy with short term relief with a puff of cigarettes or a pill. For other things like, autos, tourism, houses, parties, functions or any other consumerism the same logic applies. The people who fought for their rights, freedom, independence are the ones that are making these decision. Only to take an easy option at the end to sit in a bar and say how banks are bad to charge high interest on home loans or similar. The same people will also complain about how a footballer is getting so much money, while they keep on making free decisions of going to their matches, buying their merchandise and some even betting on them.
I am not sure what other reasons are there why everyone has the same wish to have everything. If you know any more reasons, please feel free to leave a comment. I am sure, there would be some, who would say that if the above things are true then “someone” needs to work to help people come out it and make them realize. As these people at top are brainwashing others. I don’t think that. If someone does, then we are in the same cycle of dependency again. People need to realize that life is not a right, it’s a privilege and one need to earn every breath of it if you want to be free. The wolves who left their independence for the safety of food are the ones who move with a rope in their neck and who gets testicles cut-off. Others are still in the open, living free in the wild, fighting everyday till their last day*. They make their choice with whom they will have kids and come back to their caves after a days hard work to share smiles and warmth.
*This is only a metaphor for the probable few really wild places that still exists. As most of the wild is also now “maintained” wild.