A Reminder

SUBHEAD: Given the situation of this world, there is always something to do. Right now!

By Mickey Z. on 24 April 2013 for World News Trust-

Image above: A and written sign during the Occupy Wallstreet days, "We have so much to unlearn here". From original article.

“The old proletariat sold its labor power in order to subsist. The new proletarian sells his labor power in order to consume.”
-Raoul Vaneigem

Recently, while riding the Q101 bus during rush hour, I found it interesting and kinda' fun to watch the driver interact with his regular passengers -- but one exchange really stood out. A weary man, maybe in his mid-60s, labored his way up the steps and onto the bus.

The driver remarked with a chuckle: “Two more days.”

These simple words seemed to make the tired man -- along with a few other worn out commuters -- nod and smile with hope.

You see, it was Wednesday and these folks were essentially wishing away 48 hours of their meager time on earth so they could have permission to do what they really want to do on “the weekend.”

As for what they do with such “free” time, I’ll get to that in a moment. Let’s first consider how intensely and relentlessly we’re all conditioned.

“That’s life” and “You can’t win ‘em all” and “Take the good with the bad” and “Hey, it could always be worse”... we endlessly settle for less pain instead of demanding more pleasure.

“It’s always been like this,” I’m told, ad nauseam. “You can’t fight City Hall” and “Besides, it’s never gonna change.”

After a while, if you’re not vigilant, it all starts to sink in and far too many of us willingly embrace mediocrity -- even boredom -- while ignoring or endorsing avoidable atrocities. Our humanity and our capacity for critical thought are relentlessly pounded out of us.

No wonder it’s so damn easy to not only get us to buy into this culture... but also convince us to defend it with our very lives.

As the Situationists used to say: “The real state secret is the misery of everyday life.”

Which brings me back to the concept of “free time.”
Nothing else to do?
“Boredom is the conviction that you can't change ... the shriek of unused capacities.”
-Saul Bellow

I’ve worked in a variety of gyms and health clubs for much of my adult life and while exercise crazes and workout fashions may come and go, one disturbing trend endures:

Each and every day, I witness some of my fellow humans spend hour after hour wandering the premises. Sure, they do some semblance of a workout but mostly, they talk or people watch or yak on their cell phones or drink coffee or read the newspaper or, most commonly: stare at one of the dozens of televisions.

Whenever I point out such a person to a co-worker or client, the most common reaction I get is: “I guess they’ve got nothing better to do.”

Combine this familiar outlook with the “two more days” concept I mentioned above and it’s pretty damn depressing. How many of us toil at unfulfilling jobs, wishing away the “work week” so we can have “free time” only to discover that we’ve got “nothing better to do”?

As the Situationists used to say: “The real state secret is the misery of everyday life.”
Good and desperately important work
“One of the good things about everything being so fucked up -- about the culture being so ubiquitously destructive -- is that no matter where you look, no matter what your gifts, no matter where your heart lies, there’s good and desperately important work to be done.”
- Derrick Jensen

I’d like to remind those who regularly wish away “two more days,” that during those 48 hours:
  • Roughly 400,000 acres of rainforest will be destroyed (mostly to create room for pastures and feed crops for doomed cattle).
  • More than 5,000 American children will be born into poverty.
  • About 26 million tons of toxic chemicals will be released across the globe.
  • Somewhere between 300 and 400 plant and animal species will go extinct.
  • Nearly 60,000 children under the age of five will die from preventable causes.
  • About 250 million animals will be murdered for food (sic) by a global industry that consumes one-third of the planet’s land surface and is the No. 1 source of human-created greenhouse gases.
How do I know all this? Because this -- and so much more -- is what happens every 48 hours while too many of us are “bored” because we’ve got “nothing better to do” than sit at the gym and watch and re-watch Sportscenter highlights.

I’d say it’s time to reinvent everyday life -- steal it back from corporate propagandists and reintroduce the joy of living. We can provoke dramatic changes simply by refusing to submit to the societal formula we’re presented with. Sometimes, all it takes is thoughtful introspection to liberate oneself from the seductive, profit-motivated web and move into the realm of freethinking and individuality.

Breaking away from the omnipresent corporate message of “work, consume, and obey authority without question” can be our way of challenging -- and smashing -- the status quo to create a society in which industrial pirates, murderous politicians, and vacuous celebrities are no longer the ideal we strive for.

Did you ever notice how animated people get when you ask them what they'd do if they won the lottery? They can suddenly articulate dreams and wants and desires in a hopeful, confident way. It's as if someone has given them a shot of adrenaline… a new lease on life, if you will.

Wouldn't it be neat if we could all get so excited and optimistic about our lives and our future without the promise of some unattainable and unnecessary monetary prize?

We know how we feel… so no longer should we allow Hollywood, Madison Avenue, the government, or Corporate America to define our needs.

Imagine if the majority of us woke tomorrow morning and suddenly recognized that…
  • Boredom is counterrevolutionary.
  • The best time to start fighting back is now.
  • The best place to start fighting back is here.
Imagine if the majority of us woke tomorrow morning and suddenly recognized all forms of life -- including ourselves -- as part of one collective soul. If so, how could we not defend that collective soul… by any means necessary?

With all due respect to the Situationists, I’ll let you in on the real secret: All our grievances and all our solutions are connected -- and we are the ones the planet has been waiting for.


• Mickey Z. is the author of 11 books, most recently the novel Darker Shade of Green. Until the laws are changed or the power runs out, he can be found on an obscure website called Facebook.


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