Sunday, January 17, 2010

Why Are We So Unhappy?

I wander thro' each charter'd street,
Near where the charter'd Thames does flow,
And mark in every face I meet
Marks of weakness, marks of woe.

In every cry of every Man,
In every Infant's cry of fear,
In every voice, in every ban,
The mind-forg'd manacles I hear.

How the Chimney-sweeper's cry
Every black'ning Church appalls;
And the hapless Soldier's sigh
Runs in blood down Palace walls.

But most thro' midnight streets I hear
How the youthful Harlot's curse
Blasts the new born Infant's tear,
And blights with plagues the Marriage hearse.

William Blake, London

"London" was written by William Blake in 1794. I couldn't help but to notice the rather interesting correlation between what Blake was referring to in the late 18th century and what so many people are dealing with in the 21st century. Just more proof that indeed on a fundamental level, human beings haven't really changed all that much and especially not in politics where sadly enough the masses think that change is supposed to occur.

Around the same time, Thomas Jefferson wrote these words: "If it is believed that elementary schools will be better managed by the governor and council, the commissioners of the literary fund or any other general authority of the government than by the parents within each ward, it is a belief against all experience. Try the principle one step further, and commit to the governor and council the management of all our farms, our mills and merchants' stores."

Yet what kind of world do we live in? We are told what to do by our parents, the teachers, experts, politicians, talking heads, reality shows and non reality shows. Our lives are run by costume designers, script writers, stunt men, producers, directors, assistant directors, acrobats, football players and wet t-shirt contestants. I personally prefer to watch the mud and oil wrestling myself.

We live in a world where the machine rules. The past 100-150 years have been about the assembly line, the telephone, the machine gun, first steamboats, now airlines which has extremely poor customer service. It was a joyful ride on trains and now we are always in a rush to get to work every day in our automobiles. Even our vacations are a rush if we have a vacation at all.

We live in a world where our lives are planned out from birth to death. It is the "social security card", medicare, medicaid, get our degrees and we are set for life kind of living. We have Blackberries, palm pilots, faxes, computers, cell phone in one hand, steering wheel in the other.

You were once a boy who used to play baseball or football, but for whatever reason you aren't playing now. You are working the graveyard shift pushing carts and merchandise around. You were once a girl who began dance lessons when you were 5, you dreamed of being a professional ballet dancer, dreamed of being a figure skater or an actress, but for whatever reason, you aren't doing it now. You worked the same factory job for 30 years. But now at age 50, with only a high school diploma, where do you go from here? Do you go to school and seek to become a nurse? Do you open your own business making cakes and cookies? Do you commit suicide because you are trapped by mind-forg'd manacles?

Now I want all of you to get up. Take a deep breath. Move away from your computers and television sets, put down your Blackberries and just walk away. Walk into your bathroom (which is about the only place you have any quiet time for yourself) and look at yourself in the mirror. Don't say anything. Just look. Then ask yourself this question: What shall I do with my life?" Only you can answer that question. No one else. Not your teacher nor the experts. So what shall YOU do with your life?


Ginia said...


Mike K said...

I agree with Ginia... Brilliant, well written.