There seem to be two kinds of people in this world.
There are those who, when they want something to occur, they roll up their sleeves and do their best to make it happen. Let’s call these folks entrepreneurs.
And then there are those who, when they want the very same thing, wait for someone else to make it happen. This latter group is also quite likely to b*tch and moan if things don’t turn out exactly as they wanted. Let’s call these folks consumers.
Now this seems like an obvious point. Some might say that the first group is hard working and the second group is lazy. But I don’t think so. Many very hard working people make up the latter group.
The issue separating these two groups isn’t laziness, it’s programming.
Our modern culture does its best to turn us all into consumers. Here’s how that works:
Without realizing it, our function as consumers in our consumer-based society is to slave away at some menial job in order to make just enough money to buy all of the stuff that we want.
We want this stuff because we are surrounded by messages telling us that we need this stuff. That it will make us feel better – at least for a while. And we surely want to feel better, because we really aren’t happy with our lives, though we don’t know why. And everyone else is buying it. It’s so easy to buy! And shopping for many of us has become form of entertainment in itself
We rarely see a direct cause-and-effect relationship between what we do everyday at work and what we receive when we consume. The things that we are convinced that we really want, which usually revolve around our desire for entertainment (and for forgetting how much we hate our job, life, etc.), are created by producer organizations. If we don’t like the quality or value of what we receive from these organizations, we can complain to “customer service.”
Our world has become so big, fast and complex that we feel completely removed from the process of production. Even if we produce products or services ourselves, typically what we produce is only one small piece of a very big whole.
For example, in our specialization-focused society, the idea of making your own movie because the one you just saw sucked is considered absurd. No one person can produce a Hollywood blockbuster, right? You wouldn’t even know how to begin. And you don’t want to make movies. You don’t have the time, money or desire to do so. You just want to get lost in one so that you can vicariously live a more exciting life, if only just for two hours or so.
This consumer lifestyle system is a self sustaining loop. Remember that “menial” job that I mentioned? It is most likely for some business, either your own or another, that supports, directly or indirectly, the production of the entertainment-oriented services and products that you and your neighbors buy. Why? Because that’s where the money is today.
Here’s the main problem with a society based on this consumerist model.
It inevitably leads to a society based on class. There is the class that controls the entertainment-producing industries, and then there are the rest of us who consume entertainment-related services.
Because of an imbalance of financial influence and power, Government naturally evolves to become a tool used by those producer organizations and individuals who are now in control to extract special benefits for themselves and their friends, at the eventual expense of the same consumers who buy their products. Government becomes just another tool for squeezing more money out of their customers.
The consumers are a class of milk cows, who produce a flow of cash instead of milk, and those who control production are the farm owners, who collect the cash and own the whole system.
If you love your life as a milk cow, then I suppose that there is no problem. But most people do not love this lifestyle. Yet they have no idea that any other lifestyle option even exists – except perhaps for a fleeting glimpse they might get on this blog, for example. 😉 Folks are like farm animals who do not know that any world exists outside of the farm. What’s the point of resisting, it’ll only antagonize everyone else and make waves. You can’t really change anything. It’s all just too big.
This kind of societal arrangement (using slightly different analogies) was the subject of a book that I recently read titled, “The Coming Aristocracy,” by Oliver DeMille (2009, The Center for Social Leadership).
Why am I talking about what seems essentially to be a political subject when “politics” is not the subject of my blog?
I was struck by the fact that an attitude of self starting – of taking charge of your own future and making it happen – was described as an entrepreneurial attitude. The consumer attitude that is apparently being programmed into so many of us is precisely counter to the entrepreneurial attitude that we all must adopt if we want to take charge of our lives and really be free – to achieve our true life dreams.
Perhaps one of the greatest contributing factors to most folk’s failure to start down the road to living their dream life is that they are caught in the self-sustaining consumerist life loop that is the job-salary-buy cycle that so many of us live every day.
If each of us is to transition from our current consumerist lifestyle rut to a lifestyle that is attuned to our true selves, we must intentionally become aware of, and then consciously reject, much of the popular consumerist culture that surrounds us. We must become entrepreneurs for our own future.
We also must choose to appear strange to our neighbors. To be different. And for those of us who like to blend in, that may be a big barrier to going down your true life’s road.
Nevertheless, if you want to follow your true life’s path, I suggest that you get used to the idea of being seen as a strange bird by your consumerist neighbors for a while. This is the price (one of them, anyway) for being you.
The popular media are an important part of the consumerist programming apparatus. So a good way to get started down the road to a self-directed, self-designed lifestyle is to turn off the consumerist messages (as much as you can) that bombard you everyday.
Turn off the TV. Turn off talk radio. And if you are like me, turn off the hype that is the daily news and the political scene.
I used to be a real political junkie. I now believe that politics is a trap, and a waste of my energies. I focus directly on what really matters to me. On my own life and on those of my family.
Now that you understand how the system works, you are in a much better position to resist being passively programmed and to instead start your own entrepreneurial effort that we like to call life.
I wish you all the best,