Buy this and buy that. You’re not complete without the latest smart phone. Need to have two jobs to get it? That’s ok, it’s the modern way
by John Devine
So, if you are reading this I’m assuming you didn’t wake up this morning, peek out from under the covers pulled reassuringly over your head, scream in terror at what the new day had in store for you, and promptly dive back under the sheets.
Or, maybe you did and you’ve brought your computer to bed as a safe companion and link to the outside world. You wouldn’t be the first, and considering the calamitous nature of the world today, a perfectly reasonable choice.
It’s scary out there. If the terrorists planning to blow something up, and you along with it, don’t get you, then the idiot indulging in his own little case of road rage might. The ice is melting and refugees from the rising tide will be knocking on your door, wanting in. And while the ice is melting, the rivers and lakes are drying up, threatening to turn the grasslands of the world into dustbowls.
Everything will kill you, even that tomato, genetically-modified to heighten its rosy hue and remove every hint that it actually, apparently, comes from something as tawdry as the ground. Disease, pestilence, war, famine, hate – it’s all out there just waiting to kick your door in and get … you and yours.
Grandpa has to take his shoes off before getting on the plane. Glenn Beck is a media star. A lot of people think Obama is Hitler. The spewing oil well is finally capped just as they prepare to drill another. Black gold, don’t you know, makes the wheels go round and round.
Buy this and buy that. You’re not complete without the latest smart phone. Need to have two jobs to get it? That’s ok, it’s the modern way. Mom and dad not home until late? Don’t worry, little Bobby and his friends will nuke some fish sticks and check out some sites on the Internet.
And let’s not forget the other stuff we’ve lived with all our lives, like the stock of nuclear weapons that if set off, and don’t quote me on this, might even cause Keith Richards some discomfort.
And, oh yeah, the economy still sucks! Canada’s finance minister Jim Flaherty is saying the boom times are over. Damn, must have slept through them.
Be afraid. Be very afraid. It’s not safe out there, as we are constantly reminded in this over-stimulated, hypersensitive, information-deluged, fear-mongering consumer society of ours.
But while you are being afraid and fretting about what’s right around the corner, remember the words of sages a hell of a lot wiser than this scribe about the perils of fear: to be afraid is to be a slave. It’s a spirit-sapping, soul-destroying, enterprise-capping, depression-causing state of mind that must be challenged, individually and as a society. We all need to get to our happy places.
Trouble is, not many of us know how to do that. We’ve been raised to seek instant gratification and to believe that happiness is some sort of human right we are owed. It’s not. Fact is, happiness is not a natural state of being. Our lives are filled with too much strife and turmoil for that. If you want to be happy, you have to work on it.
Don’t take my word for it. Bright lights from the Dalai Lama to Bruce Springsteen will attest to that. Whole philosophies are structured around the belief that the energy you put out is the energy you take in – or, as one famous band once intoned, “the love you take is equal to the love you make.”
Contentment-inducing experts will tell you to shorten your vision in the pursuit of happiness. And we’re not talking about some New Age nonsense about loving your inner self, or releasing the woman within, but rather some commonsense advice like paying attention to the ones closest to you – your friends and family, and gaining inner peace from the strength you give them.
Spending time with your kids is a big one. So is volunteerism; studies show the more you give of your time, the more you get.
Look to improve your family’s life, or your community’s, one step at a time, and you’ll end up feeling better about yourself, less vulnerable to the messages of doom and gloom that can leave you huddled under those covers, afraid of the shadows in the corners.
Don’t be afraid. Fear leads to control and, most destructively, despair – truly the great evil of these times. And we won’t be able to do anything about the very real problems of the world if we don’t get out from under the sheets, have a good look around and say, “we better get to work fixing these things.”