A guy sat next to me on a bench one day and started complaining about not being able to “make it” in this “dog eat dog” society. He leaned on his makeshift cart full of belongings and went on about how people with money treat people without money as if they are less than human and how laws are unequal depending on how much money you have. I agreed with his assessment and asked him about his dreams. He looked at me for a moment, then smiled and meticulously regaled me about how he wanted his life to be. He told me he wanted a high-salaried job in which he told people what to do, to live in a huge house with a beautiful wife, and a butler and maid to attend to their needs and how his children would go to private school. He’d have a large, comfortable office with a beautiful view and people would treat him with respect.
“In what field would you like to work”
“Oh, it doesn’t matter. Anything, as long as I make good money and don’t have to work hard.”
“But isn’t there something you’d enjoy doing for a living, something interesting, something that stimulates your mind or gives you a feeling of accomplishment?”
“Aaahh, that’s kids stuff. Those things don’t matter anymore. It’s all about money. Either you have it or you don’t. And if you don’t, your life will be hell. Let me tell you something: life is like a shit sandwich and the more bread you got the less shit you got to eat.”
He erupted with laughter at his cleverness, then continued with his dream life.
“I’d have a bunch of expensive cars in my gigantic garage and drive whichever one I want every day. I’d eat in expensive restaurants where celebrities hang out, go to concerts and comedy shows and football and hockey games, too. And I’d buy the best seats in the house. I’d have the biggest TV they sell, a satellite system, big speakers, expensive furniture and I’d take vacations whenever I want. I’d go to Hawaii and Europe, I’d take cruises to the Caribbean and spend a week or two on a nice beach drinking cocktails. I could take care of business over the phone telling people what to do. It would be great.”
“Sounds nice. What else would you do with your money? Who would you help?”
“What are you kidding me? I’d help myself. That’s the way it is in life. It’s every man for himself. Take care of #1. No one else will take care of me. Nobody helped me, why should I help anyone else? Let them get their own job. Then they could do what they want.”
“Yeah, but isn’t that the same type of behavior you were complaining about earlier? People with money not treating others with compassion?”
“Holy shit, do you got a lot to learn. This is a cold, cruel world where everyone looks out for himself. OK? That’s just the way it is. If you don’t learn that, you lose. There are winners in life and there are losers. If you spend too much time thinking about other people you get stepped on and left behind. It’s a rat race out there. You got to keep moving or get left in the gutter like roadkill.”
His anger was palpable. I felt an undercurrent of violence that seemed as if it could bubble up and consume him. “Yeah, but in a rat race, only the rats win. Negative traits are reinforced and you lose sight of what’s important in life. We need to transcend that type of thinking to do more than just survive.”
He laughed and scratched his head as I tried to think of a good way of continuing this line of thought. He seemed steeped in cliches so I decided to go that route. “We have to think of others. You know what they say: what goes around, comes around. If you treat other people badly you’ll be treated badly. You reap what you sow.”
“Come on, man. Get away from me with that bullshit. That’s what they want you to think. That way they can take advantage of you and leave you in the dust. Believe me, man. Take care of yourself and live life to the fullest.”
He rolled up his shirt sleeve and showed me a tattoo. “YOLO, dude. You only live once. Make the most of it. If you don’t grab it first, someone else will.”
“OK, look. Didn’t you have dreams when you were growing up – things you wanted to do with your life?
“Of course I did. Everyone does. Then they grow up. When you become a man you put away childish things. Grow up, man. That’s your problem. You act like your still a kid with dreams and you want to change the world or some shit like that. The world don’t want to change. It is what it is and if you forget that – even for a little while – you pay the price. If you want to play, you gotta pay.”
I continued a bit longer trying to explain the concept of being at peace and how growing up, as he put it, seems to me to be a type of conditioning to obey the dominant culture and behave in a certain way to please the rulers.
“The dominant culture? What the hell does that even mean? Of course you want to be the dominant one. Otherwise you get ripped to pieces. The rulers? That’s who you want to be! Look at me. I’ve been living in the streets for 3 months because I lost my job and couldn’t find a new one. If you get a good job and don’t piss anyone off, you got it made. You keep your mouth shut, tell the boss what he wants to hear, don’t talk about politics, don’t try to change the world, then you can climb the ladder and have anything you want.”
The deadliest thing the rulers have done to the masses is to create a perpetual submission to the status quo. A certain segment of the population question nothing and will always be slaves while in that state of being. They have been taught to exist in a self-limiting state that prevents them from seeing the chains that bind their minds. A long enough time in this state causes the chains to encyst their hearts as well. Inspiration dies, will disintegrates. Obedience becomes a way of life. Rulers manufacture false hope and dole it out in digestible pieces which creates an addiction. The addiction is rooted in trying to live in a fantasy cleverly designed to appear real, but as Bill Hicks brilliantly put it: it’s just a ride. This is the epitome of evil: to sever people from the interconnectedness of the universe. The saddest part of all is that so many people are busy obediently waiting in line for another trip on the ride.