Following a much older post about how the past probably wasn't worse than the present, I was thinking about the imbalances in our culture that could result in such a judgment. American culture as I experience it is full of materialism and over-working. Is this the result of capitalism? Or is capitalism the result of our imbalances?
Our entertainment is full of advertisements, more so than other countries I have visited. In part, this may be because the production values of our programming are much higher, so the government isn't subsidizing the cost of the shows. But it also is a result of a desire for gaining as much profit as possible for one's efforts. Sure you could pay off your costs and make a little bit of money with just one advertiser, but if you have ten, then you make a lot more money!
The culture promotes consumption to excess, even as it tells us to be considerate of the environment if possible. I think part of the key here is the "if possible" part. How is that even negotiable? It gets a lot of us angry and fired up about this lack of propriety, but ultimately, consuming and producing takes precedence over conservation and cultivation.
In order to consume as much as you "should," it's a matter of course that you should work a lot for it. Americans work more hours than anyone else in the world except for those in countries attempting to become like us, who work even more. Simultaneously, we feel that the culture owes us something - that we deserve the best possible gain from our expenditures. If we feel we are working hard, we deserve the best we can afford, full stop. Work hard, play harder.
It seems to me that many of us are working very hard for rewards we think are coming later on in life. But what good are those rewards then? Why would we actively choose to delay contentment? How did we get convinced that things are going to be great later, and settle for misery and mediocrity now? How did we forget that now is all we have?
Also, if we are so concerned about how great everything will be later, why would we be so wasteful and destructive as we are, going about accumulating wealth and status? Wouldn't we want to live in a clean and pristine world instead of a depleted and littered one?
I don't have anything profound to say about this right now, but the thoughts are bungling about in my head. I personally want to make decisions now that are filled with contentment and joy. I don't want to work incredibly hard to the point of misery, because why be miserable? It won't make things better later on to be sad now. It just accumulates more misery. I also want to enjoy an environment that is living and happy and uncluttered with man-made stuff. Or, on the other hand, to surround myself only with man-made stuff that is quite lovely and that I appreciate and use. I don't want to own things just to own them.
In short, I reject the idea that I need to work constantly to earn enough to have things I don't really even want or need. I need very little. I want lots of things, but when it comes down to it, most of the things I want are experiences and not objects. It would be well if more people knew that, too. Right now, I want to go home and paint. And so I am - ha!