You Are Not What You own


Ryan Dawson 2002 You Are Not What You Own

We are suffering from a disease. Offshore slavery, sweat shops, exploited labor, insider trading, profiteering, debt slavery, predatory lending, avoidable starvation, and a blind eye to the rape, theft, murder, and torture of the Third World are kept afloat by a steady combination of consumerism and sticking our heads in the sand. No one cares about people; not like they care about shiny things. Our nation judges its well being by the stock market or its billionaire companies and not on the welfare of the general public, our physical and psychological well being. Humanity is under the boot of the mighty dollar because of its association with self-worth.

Celeb-head, fashion conscious, herds scramble for the monthly slick magazines of plastic people 500 hundred self ranking quizzes, 400 g-spot articles, and cartoon symboled horoscopes vaguely about themselves like junkies so desperate for attention and direction that any superstition will do. Daily fed pop-star trash, voyeuristic reality shows, and talk-show gossip fill the ears with utter nonsense distraction, and behind every shiny smiling buy my stuff billboard are unmentioned grave stones, and countless victims of imperialism. Give us this day our daily beautiful person with troubles. Ratings demand diva dramas not news about the world. We only feed the pigs slop, and why not? After all they keep eating it. You get what you deserve by taking whatever is offered. Macho man vehicles, business bitch bravo, show everyone how much you paid. It’s not just the immoral, profit-at-all-cost corporations to blame, it’s (you) the public, the consumers, for purchasing all their worthless hype and propaganda demands. Can’t handle the pressure, don’t worry doctor spend more has some psychotropic pills for you to pop and with luck hook you on for life. -Ry

By mixing esteem with consumerism our culture does not just buy for function and comfort, it buys for material validation; it buys to impress and gain status. Jealous people covet the jealousy of others. Prestige is often the acquisition of envy from others. It has gone way out of control. Too many people are caught in the game of ‘look at me.’ And it is a massive game, a contest of control and captivation of the potential audience.

People buy books that they don’t even read, just for show. People will buy a piano for their house when no one even plays. People buy to impress. They buy for status. They need ‘other based’ validation. Does a Rolex tell time any better than a Timex? You better run to get that LV purse! High fashion makes you a ‘somebody.’

You are not what you own. Mal-Consumerist competition centers on gaining more and more property. Sadly this takes precedent over human relationships, life and the environment. Zealous fanatical economics has been the primary reason for such institutions as slavery and Westward expansion AKA murder, theft, and cultural genocide. Many dubious rationals were given in attempts to justify the greedy ends of the hyper-consumerists. But what gave rise to the hyper-economics? How do otherwise, reasonably-moral people, rape, enslave, and murder other people and the planet? “Production” in the national sense is nothing more than gaining control of material at any cost. So how could people become so greedy?

There were American frontier men and Nazis who were nice to their families an animals. There were slave owners who were upstanding individuals in other ways, and who were highly educated and intellectual. But this anything-for-profit and comfort mentality does not stem from a lack of academic intelligence; it’s born from a lack of compassion and a susceptibility towards an egocentric truth.

In this culture a person’s self worth is all wrapped up in what they can get. Getting fancy commodities, titles, and property is what constitutes “success.” Without fine things you are made to feel like a loser. Generosity and compassion are only admirable qualities if they are public and thus enhance your reputation. People will horde in millions even billions and still look for more money while others starve or live in frustration working from check to check. But if you are unhappy being forced into a society that bases your human worth on your occupation and level of consumption, then somehow you are made to feel like a failure. You don’t work enough; you’re not smart enough etc…

Certain ‘products’ have phenomenally become associated with completely fabricated notions which tie in to a person’s self esteem. For example drinking has become intertwined with masculinity. The number of beers one can consume or the amount of alcohol one can ‘handle’ before they get drunk is somehow a sign of manliness. Beer advertisers sandwich their commercials between all male sports like football. (kids see these commercials) Even broken men at AA meetings will smirk and take pride in the amount of alcohol they could consume. Be a real man buy and drink as much of my product as possible to prove to your buddies you can and show them how many it takes to get you drunk because of how manly manly you were told you are.

Part of the problem with drunk driving is that the drinker does not want to admit that they are drunk, for it is a sign of being weak, and they protest admitting that they are unable to ‘handle’ the amount that they drank. Just having knowledge about different brands of wine and liquor is somehow a sign of high culture. (in reality drinking tolerance just reflects high prior consumption and a large body mass including a fat one)

Smoking, driving cars fast (which aids the state with costly tickets and higher insurance rates-the fact that cars even have the ability to exceed a 100 miles an hour is a mystery) owning guns, supporting the military and sports teams, and even the way we dress are associated with roles you need to play in order to “be a man.” Vicarious masculinity is a problem. The biggest fans of power lust are the most wickedly jealous weaklings.

Equal examples can be said for women, jewelry being the most amazing one I can think of off the top of my head. The stones have no function outside of gaining envy from others… oh the shiny things. Why does a diamond have worth? It has no value tied to its function. A diamond gets its value from the amount of envy it produces in others. Why do they envy it?-Because it is expensive. Why is it expensive? -Because it is envied. Advertisers and the merchant controlled media (which is dependent on advertisers) have made the diamond symbolize love. If you get a diamond or give a diamond, they say, you are loved or you love. Hey, a diamond is just a shiny stone; it only has the power that we give it. Think of it as a waste of money instead of something to impress your peers. Don’t let them tell you it is necessary to give their company a large sum of money in order to get a rock, because it proves your love for someone.

Just like drinking and smoking have nothing to do with masculinity, expensive pebbles have nothing to do with love or admiration. These are all marketing scams feeding off a foolish culture. More than this think of how many of the diamonds were acquired. Just because it was out of sight doesn’t mean it should be out of mind. Immoral acts are still immoral acts even when they are done far away. (yes these are not gender specific ills but they are quiet obviously lopsided with basic observation)

Cost to human health and safety are a small price to pay when it comes to consumerism, when it comes to social acceptance. So what if smoking causes cancer, cost lives and money, contributes to litter, and waste a good portion of a person’s income? Smoking is profitable. Profit is a sign of production. Isn’t it a price worth paying and risking to look cool, to feel posh, to be a little naughty?

So why is mankind’s self esteem on trial here? Why is it so fragile as to be manipulated with the ease of 30 second commercials and slick magazines? 1 out of 3 of people will get a cancer, a large number of women will be raped before they die and others will fend off or flee from an attempt, 1 out of 4 people are infected with depression in the US. 1 out of 2 marriages will fail… we will kill animals to make clothes and shoes and then some people will kill other people, to steal them. How did the dead (objects) gain so much power over the living (people and the rest of the eco system)? Is this a healthy society? (Mentally and physically?)

Let’s analyze the popular indoctrination our culture puts our children through; let’s look at religion. Western religions* are designed to break down a person’s self worth and replace it with an esteem based on obedience.

This is then reinforced in the educational system. In school regurgitation will carry one father than thinking. If a young little man or lady gets out of line then we can just dope them up with ritalin . There are exceptional teachers but for the most part, the school system helps to enforce sex roles, and teaches people to be able to sacrifice their enjoyment in order to do what they are told. It teaches competition and the idea of the dog eat dog world.

The best way of coping with this is to take enjoyment in doing what you are told. To be a ‘good boy or good girl’ is to be an obedient one. And what is school really? Even college? Is it what it claims to be or is it a process which ultimately leads to an occupation: to a method of making money without which a person cannot obtain the basic necessities it takes to live?

Schools are having less and less to do with ‘education’ and more and more to do with ‘indoctrination.’ School has become a stepping stone into the business world. Subjects like history and geography have been so neglected that many Americans do not know where many countries are mush less anything about them or our current relations. Subjects like philosophy might not even see exposure until college, and there are many who cannot even see what they are for, much less know anything about them.

It starts in elementary school. Every talent comes with a stigma. If you’re pretty you must be an airhead, if you are logical you must be dull, if you’re creative you must be illogical, if you’re athletic you must be a meat head, if you so much as dress too darkly or too colorfully there is a label for you. What kid wants to excel in the arts if its going to carry the stigma of being irrational? Or what kid wants to excel in physics or some other science if it carries with it the stigma of being cold. It’s the old “are you a lover or a fighter” crap. Why not both? They also assign gender roles as to who tends to be better at what making a boy feel girly for enjoying or being good at “girl subjects” and vice versa. There is no pride in actual attributes about the self, in what you can do, know, create, only what you own. Qualities of character, skill, how caring, fair, truthful, interesting, intelligent, strong, kind etc you are is meaningless. Because none of that stuff makes money you see. Everything is school is directed at getting grades to get in the next school to get an occupation to get money to get stuff. A person is drained of a sense of self worth because being a good person is not practical. I remember while studying philosophy being asked what I was going to use it for meaning make money with it. I said what do you mean, I’m studying it so I can know it. It enhances my non-monetary life also known as my life.

It’s a culture of weakness because it is normally the unskilled, weak and useless who attach these negative qualities to anyone who is good at something. They have to try to bring them down because of jealousy or feelings of inferiority they need to believe that anyone good at something must be deficient in something else. They promote the myths and its pushed on children. Does it stem from an obsession with equality or fear of superiority? It causes people to hold back their potentials. it discourages people away from their talents and mediums for activities that bring them happiness because the only things that can count are the ones that make money the ones that involve buying selling things or services to others. You’re art, your building, knowledge about something, drive for social justice, is worth nothing until you sell it. This is very wrong.

A main concern for college students today is not, what can I learn, or how can this knowledge enhance my life, bring me pleasure, or improve my character. The question they have on their mind is, ‘how can I use this’? In other words, how can this make me money? How many artists or similar people have turned away from their natural talents and unique process of self actualization because it would not pay enough as an occupation? And because land and food are owned by a few, without a certain level of wage a person can not eat or maintain even the lowest standard of living. Money becomes the focus because without it you have no freedom.

They don’t have much of a choice in thinking this way. Knowledge doesn’t pay. It’s not who you are it is who you know. Athletes and strippers make more than philosophy and physics teachers. A recent poll shows that 1 in 10 men use Viagra, that’s far more than the number who have read a book in the last ten years. Horoscopes take up more space in the news paper than the latest news in science. The news its self is more of a ratings war, via entertainment than it is informative news. Where are America’s priorities? What is this leading us to? I don’t know, ask Rome…

“What is needed is self actualization not self image actualization.”-Bruce Lee.

Cleverness is not going to solve the real problems of the world, like war, civil strife, poverty and the high incidence of violence. Neither is it going to solve the mental problems so rife in the modern world. Only wisdom and compassion can solve these problems.”

We don’t need more money, or more brains, we need bigger hearts, we need to put humane people in positions of power rather than the fearful and the greedy. We know damn well how to solve many of these things. Will you live in compassion? Oh the shiny things, when will we be free of their power. “Plastic people and their plastic minds”-L7 Slick mags and shiny faces, shiny cars, shiny rings… oh the shiny things

What is needed is not so much a change of government but a change of value systems. Solutions begin with the individual. It’s not capitalism; it is capitalism in combination with a psychologically alienated public. People have so little self actualization (making potentials actual with activity) that they often shop for entertainment; they shop for the art of it not because of the physical needs the products bring. They have so few mediums to exercise their intellect that memorizing sports statistics and finding the best buys becomes a game to run away from boredom. I’m not going to get into drugs and beer addiction to movies, people emulating movie characters etc and other forms of escapism. We are taught to fight against one another, against in-group after in-group and some need a drug like alcohol just to socialize or feel cool, knock away shyness so on… you are under control.

When land and resources are owned by the few, the rest must by necessity find an income, they rent the hours of their lives just to survive. The time given in no way reflects the profits of their labors. Their human worth and indeed the worth of the nation is judged upon how much it can buy and sell. Production, not kindness, creativity, love, or any aspect of character determines the well being of the state. No, it is gauged by the ‘economy’, the stock market i.e. the conditions of the riches few. You are a tool. You are under control for as long as you worship material possessions. Be careful that what you own does not end up owning you. Out of a week with 8hr sleeping a night and 40hr working one is left with 72 hrs. Then remove hrs used in commuting to work you are left with less than 72 hours per week of life. Who owns you? You don’t. Many work more than 40hr a week too. We’re sinking in the honey gathered for the queen.
-Ryan Dawson

You Are Not What You Own II

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