Tuesday, January 3, 2012

To Freedom, Humanity!


What would you rather be doing?

Every once in awhile, I’ll hear a news story about someone in an office or factory who won the lottery. “Will you quit your job?” the commentator asks. “Oh, I could never leave my job!” they insist.


I mean, besides the fact that it’s impossible to keep working beside people once they put on that lens…I ask you, who among us doesn’t have a dream of owning our own time? Freedom has long been the dream of slaves.

Did you forget that we’re slaves?

I have a dream. I wake up in the morning, refreshed and excited to greet the day. I stretch, pick up my coffee, check in with the twitterverse and blogosphere, send some love into the Universe, exercise, and spend the day writing fiction, cat on my lap. I eat a tasty and nutritious dinner with my family and enjoy a summers’ evening with them. I fall asleep easily and sleep well. Nowhere in that dream do I wash dishes, prepare meals, clean up cat litter.

It’s not a giant dream, but it’s one of mine. What are some of yours?

We all have them! We all long to be free of the tyranny of work. Work SUCKS! We just want to bang on the drum all day.

And we SHOULD be able to do this. Why can’t we?

Because we allow the vagaries of human whimsy to drive our innovative efforts, and place individual human desires above what’s realistic. That’s why we have 79 kinds of gum with exactly the same ingredients. That’s why the technology exists to solve almost any problem, but hardly anyone can afford it for far too long. I’m not convinced there is enough trickling down to reach the bottom before drying up.

The Free Market is driving the dream upward. The Entrepreneurs who were once of us, for us and with us, have been displaced by impersonal conglomerates where no one is responsible for anything but the bottom line. Our stock marketeers are making themselves Feudal Overlords. Trickle-down only works when something is trickling down. We encourage the rich to tie money up rather than spend it (spending being the only means of spreading it out) and it is creating a Great Divide between those who must work, and those who have choices.

Don’t misunderstand. I am very grateful to the Free Market for getting us here. Slavery was required for humans to be the machines that made things happen. We did it! We got here! We grew and grew and did more and more, and we cracked the genome! We have computers and robots – better machines than us! We know how to get to the moon! We dreamed it, and it’s here, and it’s incredible. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Without competition and the draw of significant reward, innovation and creativity couldn’t have come so far. The widespread slavery of humans in creation and production, was required to allow for execution on what was possible. Without the fierce competition for basic needs, humans would never have submitted to it. Give them enough to eat and a place to live, and they will do what they feel like, not what needs to be done!

Allowing the slaves participation as consumers of innovation helped spread the wealth from the feudal overlords to a middle class of people. The mantra of ever onward! Constant Growth! That’s the cheerleading we needed to get here. And it worked. It even gave the illusion of freedom, this idea that you can improve your lot, that the sky is the limit. Still, 40 hours a week is a lot, and for most people, it’s the minimum. It doesn’t leave much time to enjoy Life.

The thing is, we don’t have to live like this anymore. We could decide that being a human is not an immediate sentence to a lifetime of work. We could make birth an entry to the universe’s vacation resort. We could decide to use our Collective Will to create utopia for everyone.

Not tomorrow. Not in my lifetime or yours, but does that give us the right to keep our foot on the gas when we can see the ravine? Imagine what technology could do in 3012. That was a trick. You can’t.

In any case, my point is this. We are behaving like children. Gimme gimme gimme. Why should I? It’s MINE! We are acting like teenagers. I choose my own friends! The world is black and white! What’s the point?

We have the technology and know-how to begin spreading not just survival, but even convenience more broadly among humans at a much faster pace, if we lower the prices by reducing the profits. Uh oh, can’t say that. That smacks of taxation or redistribution. Bla bla bla. Let’s put it another way. We have the technology and know-how to begin spreading stability and even convenience more broadly among humans at a much faster pace, if we understand that we live in a finite system. Constant growth is not a requirement, it’s a mindset. And it’s simply not an option.

It’s time for us to grow up, Humanity. We’ve had our childhood, we've spent our teen angst, and we've even crashed the car. 

Now, it’s time to settle down and have a family together.

It’s time we realized the reality of our situation and the depth of our power. It’s time we wake up and have a dream, for all of us, a thousand years from now, that life IS easy and work is what we choose, because we love it and it gives us a chance to better our situation and that of humanity, not because we can't eat otherwise. When I come back, I want my life to be a vacation from the tedium of eternity, no matter what family I’m born to. All this dog eat dog within Ourself tires me out.

To Freedom, Humanity!