Building a society of dependence: Welcome to the 21st century

Thousands of years ago, men and women would spend hours each day simply to provide food for their families. Surviving was a full-time job. Today, our lives are radically different from our ancestors. But it seems that survival is a little different than it used to be. Today survival is about sitting in front of a computer for eight hours and falling asleep to the television. Hunting and gathering have been replaced with a weekly trip to the local Wal-Mart or Hy-Vee stores. It seems as if our lives have become a lot simpler. Or have they become increasingly more complex and less fulfilling?

I’m sure our ancestors had their share of turmoil. It was no doubt difficult fighting the elements and finding your own food. But they had something that we don’t: a true sense of self-dependence. How many of us today can say the same? Do you know where your milk comes from? Your meat? Your daughter’s Barbie doll? By simplifying life, we have lost one of the most fulfilling parts of being a human. We have lost our self dependence.

I walk around a Wal-Mart Supercenter food aisle, and feel utter disgust as I watch people push each other and bulk up on things like chocolate chip cookies, bacon, and potato chips. ‘Do they have any idea what ingredients comprise these products?’ I wonder.

Don’t get me wrong: the people themselves do not disgust me. They are simply products of their time. I am disgusted by what our society has become. We are so detached from our natural world: dirt has become concrete, flowers have become plastic, and potatoes have transformed into greasy chips (with 0 trans fat, of course). It seems that with a blink of the eye we have turned very real, very beautiful things into a superficial universe of product. We are driven by the need to consume, the need to collect things; for the person with the largest collection is the best. That is what our society has told us, and that is our new dependence.

We wander around junk-filled aisles, trying to fulfill our desire for happiness. We buy clothing in the bulk, trade in our cars for the newest, shiniest new release, and charge that stereo system with surround sound (that we can’t really afford) to one of our ten credit cards. At the end of the day we have the feeling of fulfillment, but as we wake up we are reminded of our unfulfilled existence in this world. We feel helpless. We feel cornered. We feel alone. We have no self worth.

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