Are you and I in prison?
Surely, the quality of a civilisation is determined not only by physical factors but by psychological factors as well, specifically the mental health of the population and the ability for the interests and passions of the individuals within that population to develop without restriction.
You cannot fail to be aware that technology is surging forward and this technological advancement is allowing for greater improvements to the living conditions of our society. Computer programming and robots are rendering man obsolete in various avenues of life and this means that the demand for labour by humans to maintain their society is reducing.
This should be resulting in a higher standard of living while people work less, but it isn’t. Why?
I feel that one major contributing factor to this is the transition of wealth to fewer and fewer people. I consider that the transition of wealth to the few counteracts the effectiveness of technological advancement to society as a whole. It maintains the need for a mass of the population to work long hours and this has detrimental health effects.
For most people, the main impetus behind their occupation is money rather than passion. People acting from this motivation maintain a willingness to adversely affect their health in the pursuit of wealth. The cultivation of a passion demands that one must be in the best state of health in order to progress it as fast as possible. The cultivation of wealth, on the other hand, offers many instances where the demand is just that one puts in the hours, irrespective of the effect on one’s health.
Another detrimental health factor is caused by the lack of flexibility in jobs, which is often the result of people believing that others will behave irresponsibly when they are given freedom.
Take the set-in-stone hours people have to work (say 9 to 5). The realities of life are not as fixed as our office hours. There will be some nights that you take a long while to get off to sleep, perhaps as a result of pressures in your life. Without flexibility in your working hours you have to wake up, and get up, at the same time each day irrespective of how tired you are feeling. A few more hours in bed, not because you are lazy but because you can only function properly when you have had enough sleep, is the right thing to do but apparently we are not afforded this so-called luxury.
Of course, there are many more factors we could discuss but it is not necessary because the chances are you are not only aware of them but are living them currently in your daily life.
Examining this lifestyle, I began to realise that my own occupation dictated my physical freedom to a great extent. Next, came the question of whether I was in a type of prison. I had to question very seriously whether modern-day slavery was extant but had merely changed into a more civilised form that had become accepted by society.
So, what is prison?
Prison is generally thought of as a punishment of incarceration that follows an illegal act. But forget illegality and punishment for the moment.
What is prison?
Is prison a limiting of one’s physical freedom? Is it an environment that imposes a certain structured time schedule on you (wake up at X, go out at Y, sleep at Z), reduces your freedom of movement, preventing your ability to explore alternatives, and acts to set your life into a groove in which you do the same actions day after day and socialise with the same people?
If one considers prison to be such a thing, then does society’s demand for you to earn a living pressure you into a similar way of life?
You may disagree – I am just asking.
It seems to me that a society that does not offer free access to the basic necessities (food, water, clothing, shelter and education) promotes a prevailing insecurity both individually and across society as a whole. This insecurity is expressed as fear and uncertainty and is responded to by the cultivation of selfishness, that sense of putting ‘me’ first. The maintaining of this structure creates great uncertainty in the future as well, and I consider that this inspires greed, an action taken to push back the possibility of having nothing further and further into the future.
Some of you may disagree, but fundamentally society (given its technological advancement) has not laid a sufficiently secure foundation for its people. This is probably because of greed, a phenomenon commonly referred to as the transition of wealth to the few, and it is these wealthy few who dictate how society functions to a large extent. This is partly responsible for the sustaining of an insecure societal foundation.
As a result of the implied insecurity of this societal structure, the realities of employment become a form of imprisonment in themselves. However, there is also another factor that cannot be overlooked and that is our attitude to employment.
When observed very carefully, one can see that it is also people’s attitudes that are responsible for the restriction of their lives to small circles of friends, superficial pursuits, and so on. Regularly one will hear others refer to themselves in contexts that allude to an utter lack of belief in themselves or their capacities. They will genuinely believe that they are not good enough to do anything important, courageous or meaningful in their lives and, therefore, self-imprison themselves in a perpetual misery.
From this I conclude that, as a result of the current societal structure, irrespective of whether you and I have freed ourselves from self-loathing, we are still in a type of prison because society at present demands it. However, I consider the term ‘slave’ in the developed world to be a mindset and, therefore, there is the capacity for you and I to be free from slavery while we remain in prison.
It is only when society changes that we will be free from this prison and it is the responsibility of those who see this prison to change that society.
Greed has its source in selfishness and selfishness its source in insecurity.
Slavery is only accepted by the people who profit from it and most slaves want to be slavers.