By “humans enslaved” I mean not so much physical ownership and physical slavery imposed on you by others, the form of slavery that has been and often still is practiced in the world, but often self imposed mental slavery. You are a slave and what is enslaving you is in fact you. But if you want a scapegoat, you can pin the blame on society for brainwashing you in the first place since none of what follows is hardwired or innately carved into your little grey cells.
TIME: The basic premise here is that when the clock ticks, you jump. How often do we say “Can’t talk now”; “I’m late”; “Gotta run”; “Its kick-off time” or its time for (the meeting, catching the train, the dinner party, etc.). It never ends. Alarm clocks, the factory siren, the referee’s whistle, your life is regulated by the clock from the moment you get up in the morning till the moment you lie down at night. You are indeed a slave to Father Time!
MONEY: Money is not always of root of all evil. Some people are just born nasty! Still, the average person worships the great dollar bill (or equivalent), and for good reason – you avoid getting a “go to jail” card since you can pay your bills. But quite apart from the necessities – bills, the rent/mortgage, food, clothing, heat, education and medicine – we tend to be slaves in not just needing, but wanting, more and more and more, and more and more and more requires more and more and more money. And thus, a major part of our existence and purpose is to acquire wealth – and that’s hardly something that’s modern to the here and now. It’s been that way since Methuselah was a brat in diapers (and even before that when you consider those Ancient Egyptian tomb robbers). If your bank account is bigger than anyone else’s, well it’s the golden rule – them who has the gold makes the rules. Be it gold or the dollar bill, you’re a slave in pursuit.
POSSESSIONS: Be it gold or the dollar bill, you’re a slave in pursuit. Why? You want things, stuff, possessions. You get bragging rights if your (fill in the blank) is bigger, more expensive, and/or larger in quantity, than that of your peers. You are a slave to obtaining stuff way above and beyond the basic necessities for all sorts of psychological reasons. Instead of the application of “enough is enough”, you let the concept of “shop till you drop” rule your mental roost.
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FADS & FASHIONS – THE LATEST MUST-HAVES: You are blitzed with hundreds of ads per day, in print, on TV, on the radio, on the Internet, even non-promotional ‘ads’ in the form of news stories, articles, etc. that note and log trends in society. You are told, via these ads and ‘ads’ what’s hot and what’s not. What’s the latest style in ladies shoes? What are the latest in-colours? Should you get carpet or tiles? What’s the newest kitchen gadget? What’s the newest toy? What’s all the latest rage in laptops? What’s the hottest new TV show either on TV or on DVD? The list of fads and fashions that you MUST HAVE are as lengthy as a telephone book! From the hula hoop to the whitewall tire; from the microwave to the convertible; from the espresso coffeemaker to the miniskirt (or hotpants); now what’s the latest bestseller in books? Who’s the latest artist with a top ten hit? Of course multi-millions part with their $$$ all in pursuit of owning the latest MUST HAVE – actually it’s MUST HAVES, hundreds of MUST HAVES. And so we are slaves to Madison Avenue and equivalents around the county and around the world. And it must work. The ads have enslaved us (though the buck stops with you) otherwise there’d be no new fads and MUST HAVE fashions. But of course today’s MUST HAVE is next week’s BORING, to be replaced of course with a newer version of MUST HAVES! It never ends.
MARKETING: Even if you apparently don’t want unnecessary possessions and don’t partake of the latest fads and fashions, there’s a whole marketing enterprise out there designed to make you reconsider and dance to their tune; grab you by the privates and make your heart, mind and wallet follow to the beat of their drum. You’re hopelessly outnumbered and outgunned. There are numerous ploys or tricks into making you cough up your money, often slogans and buzz phrases. See if you recognize a few: “Last chance”; “Never to be repeated”; “Our pain is your gain”; “Below cost”; “No extra cost to you”; “Hurry, last days”; “On sale”; “Exclusive to”; “Limited offer”; “Limited edition”; “Once in a lifetime offer”; “Sale ends…”; “Limited time only”; “Buy two get one free”, and hundreds more buzz phrases. There are many variations on the theme. I mean this type of strategy works; otherwise the strategy would have been abandoned eons ago. You may think you’re immune, but the odds are your enslaved just the same.
APPEARANCES: If there ever was an obsession, this is it. From time immemorial, anyone and everyone has been a slave to how they appear to anyone and everyone else. But if you stop and think about it, what counts is the real you, what you represent; your characteristics; your personality. How you dress, your hairstyle, your makeup, your adornments, your house, your car; your social smarts and etiquette are really irrelevant. If you go to work in a smart suit and tie, or in your birthday suit, neither has anything whatever to do with how competent you are to do the job you are paid to do. A Nobel Prize winner is still a Nobel Prize winner even if he plays the bongo drums, likes to visit strip clubs, womanise, and lists safecracking as a hobby! Without naming names, the late Nobel Prize winning theoretical quantum physicist Richard P. Feynman’s book “What Do You Care What Other People Think?” should sum up the concept that superficial appearances are just that – superficial. Would you sooner go down in history as a snappy dresser without a hair out of place, or as an Einstein, notorious for having a rather poor sense of adornments or dress sense?
LIFESTYLE: You can accept the fact that some people are better athletes than you; some people are smarter than you; some people are better at leadership than you. But you probably cannot accept that some people have, and deserve to have, a better lifestyle than you.
Humans constantly compare themselves to others. It’s hard not to when the lifestyle of others, especially the rich and famous, are thrust in our faces by all manner of ways and means; from quality news sources to the tabloids. And much like the often artificial desire for stuff, to have the latest gadget, to be attractive to the rest of the world, so too do we cultivate in our mind’s eye an idealistic lifestyle that we can strive for, but never achieve, since we keep raising the bar because someone else’s bar is above ours. No matter what your lifestyle level is, you know someone who has a better lifestyle, and since you feel you are their equal (or probably their better) you acquire an attitude “I deserve.”
Two points: someone has to be ‘top dog’, and that ‘top dog’ is relative. ‘Top dog’ could mean wealth; it could mean health; it could mean education, it could be fame; it could be achievement, it could mean lots of things, but it’s not going to all of the above simultaneously. So, you have to pick-and-choose what lifestyle means to you. But whatever criteria you choose to pursue, of course someone else will have already scaled that Mount Everest. Rather than accept your place in life as somewhat below the summit, you often become enslaved to reach the summit too. Of course with lots of people desiring the same, that summit in theory could get awfully crowded, and as we all know from childhood, there can only be one “king of the mountain” at ay one time. That fact however never seems to reduce your enslavement to climb, ever climb and knock that other bastard off their perch!
TRADITIONS & HABITS: More likely as not, you’re a slave to various traditions and personal habits. You might say something like “that’s the way my parents did it; that’s the way their parents did it and their parents before them and as far back as you care to go – it’s tradition and we observe tradition and no correspondence will be entered into on the matter!” Or, it’s such-and-such a time; such-and-such a day or date, therefore such-and-such will be done or observed. Sound slightly familiar? We’re often creatures of, slaves to, tradition and habits without ever stopping to question “why”?
CHRISTMAS: Christmas just has to be singled out especially from the rest of the book of days because it’s at the extreme end of our numerous traditions and habits. By any way you care to measure things, Xmas can be the best of times but it’s usually the worst of times (conveniently forgotten one year on). The Xmas propaganda (i.e. – the Xmas Season) starts months before the appointed date and is relentless in its build-up and intensity. It extends several weeks past the use-by date when the Xmas wrapping paper and Xmas cards are now 50% off, and those post Xmas sales where you’re tempted to by next years Xmas gifts now. And then the Xmas bills arrive just to remind you about all those fun times you had over the past several months.
Do you do Xmas because you want to, or because society has so shoved this concept down your throat ever since you were knee high to a cockroach that you now just go through the motions by rote because you have got to appease that great deity called “Shop Till You Drop”? Translated, do you do Xmas just because it’s expected of you? The latter you admit? I thought so. I mean what sane person voluntarily desires to max out their credit cards for gifts for others who probably don’t need or want them and will just shove them towards the back of their closet? What sane person voluntarily spends hours in crowded stores just for the pleasure or satisfaction of maxing out their credit cards on behalf of others? There’s hardly a store you can shop in that isn’t loaded to the rafters with Xmas trimmings. What sane person would voluntarily, laughing all the way (Ho, Ho, Ho), spend hours writing and addressing Xmas cards to persons they really don’t give a damn about? And isn’t it just jolly good fun wrapping up all those gifts? Do you honestly look forward to hearing all those Xmas songs for the millionth time? There’s hardly a shop in town (not to mention buskers) that doesn’t bombard you with endless repetitions of Xmas music. How the staff can stand it is quite beyond me.
I’m sure you just love being exposed to Xmas spin multi-thousands of times per Xmas Season and not just the repetitious music and endlessly reading the word “Christmas” or “Merry Christmas” but those endlessly repeating Xmas images and Xmas colours. It hardly qualifies as subtle or subliminal – you’re clobbered over the head and you love it – “pay attention stupid, it’s time to do your Xmas bit or else there’s no Santa for you!” Now this isn’t some national emergency as in “Uncle Sam Needs You!”, rather the Chief Executive Officers of the retail sector need you, especially if they are to get their Xmas bonuses!
And what about slaving over the kitchen stove preparing that special Xmas meal for all those relatives you’d really rather poison? Speaking of Xmas dinner, why not try something different for a change, like pizza, spaghetti, macaroni & cheese, chicken pot pie or even sirloin steak. Fish & chips would make a nice change too! No? It has to be ham or turkey and plum pudding / mince pies / Xmas fruit cake according to someone’s (whose long since dead) tradition. Actually it’s not your fault. That’s the Xmas dinner fare that the supermarket catalogues and store displays feature, in LARGE PRINT, that twist your arm and in a manner of speaking end up shoving this must-have-because-it’s-traditional Xmas fare down your throat; this time literally! Boring! Same old fare! No imagination! So, being an independent minded SOB, its fish & chips for Xmas dinner for me (and no leftovers either).
So why do you do it, year after year after year? Because society says it’s that time of year to test your ‘right stuff’, to see if your heart (and sanity) can stand the pressure one more year. Society says you snap to attention at Xmas and you reply, via your wallet, “Yes sir! I will sir. Thank you sir”! Society says you will run the annual Xmas obstacle course, and run it you do, and aren’t you proud of yourself, huffing & puffing, when you cross the finish line. So, if you do Xmas for any reason other than because you want to, you really honestly and truly want to, then you’re enslaved, hook, line and Xmas sinker.
Quite apart from the commercial aspects, you’re enslaved to Xmas if you do Xmas for religious reasons because you’re still being led up the garden path by the nose. Why? It’s because you’re celebrating Xmas for the wrong ‘religious’ reason. Xmas is all about a natural rebirth, not about a supernatural birth. The latter, the alleged birth of a Christ, was superimposed by the Christian church over the real pagan reason for celebration around the late December period. That original celebration centred on the return of lengthening daylight after the Northern Hemisphere’s Winter solstice. Therefore, celebrating Xmas as the birth of Christ is not only incorrect, but irrational in that the date of Christ’s birth isn’t know by anyone. And celebrating Xmas for any reason in the Southern Hemisphere is ludicrous for either of the above possibilities. You’ve all been suckered yet again.
TECHNOLOGY: We’re enslaved to our technology fixes, and to those repairmen and their extravagant bills who fix our fixes when those fixes need fixing. I mean when the TV goes on the blink; when the hard drive crashes, the fridge conks out, even when there’s a power failure, well we may not panic, but we get a tad close to it. We’ve all seen those quasi end-of-the-world movies where the few survivors have to rebuild civilization from scratch without all those modern technological conveniences like gasoline and electricity, and it’s not easy. Could you survive without supermarkets and clothing stores or modern hardware shops? Would you like the task of separating a teenager from her Twitter or Facebook? Video game addiction is well known. The commuter who has to, shock horror, take the bus because the car broke down is NOT a happy camper. So what bits of technology are you enslaved to, and who forced you to adopt those bits in the first place?
AUTHORITY: I haven’t received my bill – I’m not at fault yet if I don’t do something the powers-that-be are sure to cut off my (fill in the blank) for non-payment. Do you ever find yourself in that sort of situation? The onus is always on you to rectify things even when you’re totally innocent of any wrongdoing. I’ve found myself, usually several times a year, having to chase up items which could result, if I fail to do so, in some bureaucratic authority figure come crashing down on me even though I’m not at fault of any wrongdoing. That’s enslavement. We’re enslaved to another deity – the great god of bureaucracy. We’ve all had experiences akin to banging our heads against a bureaucratic stone wall. It’s always the ordinary person who has to prove, out of fear of some authority, that it was the system at fault, and since when does any authority figure admit that the bureaucratic system to which they are a part of is flawed? The ordinary person is guilty till proven innocent; it’s never the fault of the system.
POWER: Power may not always corrupt and absolute power may not always corrupt absolutely, but we tend to seek power; we’re all slaves to seeking power and all slaves to keeping what power we have. It may be very local like the husband who beats the wife who in turn screams at the eldest kid, to the older brother who was screamed at now in turn bullying his younger sibling, to that brat kicking the dog, who then chases the cat. I guess it stops with the cat. Of course it might be power at the office – always seeking promotion so that you have more people under your command/supervision. It might be seeking political power, from local mayor to prime minister. But we all feel good having someone, or something, we have power over.
LEAVING YOUR MARK – LEGACY & POSTERITY: You don’t have to leave any physical record of yourself behind, not even a carved tombstone, but you’re a slave to whatever inner drive compels you to do so. People tend to be obsessed (a form of mental slavery) with being noticed, even after death and even if only anonymously. There’s architecture, from the pyramids to Stonehenge to modern skyscrapers and houses. There’s graffiti (not a modern phenomenon). There’s artistic works from hieroglyphs and cave art and petroglyphs to all the various arts and crafts we have today as well as those that form part of our cultural legacy. The upshot is that in the long term, while most try, few succeed. How many of those hundreds of thousands of Ancient Greeks are remembered today, yet probably nearly all sought some sort of long-term legacy.
HOBBIES: Hobbies are any dedicated activity not normally related to day-to-day survival, usually, but not always involving collecting things. If you started to list now the various hobbies engaged in by peoples around the world, past and present, you’d probably still be jotting them all down this time next year! The critical point is that all too often the hobby controls you and not the other way around. Much of your entire existence and purpose revolves around your personal hobby obsession. It’s that transition from fan to fanatic that marks you as enslaved.