I have been fairly quiet lately. The state of the world weighs on me deeply and I find myself searching for answers that elude me. I have a ‘fix it’ personality and my inner co-dependent just wants to make everyone feel better.
What is it about the human race that keeps us from loving, respecting and having compassion for one another? When, exactly, did greed supersede these basic human needs?
These questions and many like them brought me to the name of my blog, A Stranger In This Place, because I really don’t understand this world a great deal of the time. Religion and politics puzzle me the most.
The US government was created as a government ‘for the people and by the people’ but has since turned into a government ‘for the corporations and by the corporations’ while the people stood idly by until it was too late. Now the people seem to have absolutely no control over anything in this country. We went about our business trying to find the elusive ‘American Dream’ while our government, and the people, became the puppets for the corporations and big businesses. We allowed them to attach strings to us and use us for their profits by signing into sub-prime mortgages, signing up for high interest credit cards to live beyond our means, going into debt for an education that no longer serves us, signing 2 year contracts for cell phones so we could get the free phone, agreeing to contracts that took us further and further into debt so that we could have more things and we decided not to vote. I am guilty of all of these things myself. It was me who signed the papers. It was me who said yes to all of those things for one reason or another or to just feel better about myself because I had nothing while those around me had or appeared to have everything. I bought into the idea that in order to be successful I had to have more, do more and be more. Really? Is that what this life is all about?
I have a Bachelors of Science degree in business from Portland State University. I’ve worked in business since I was 13 and since I’m now 41 years old that means I have 28 years of experience. During those years before obtaining my degree, I hadn’t ever made more than $35,000 a year. I was going to college thinking my degree would increase my chances of making more so that I could properly support my son and myself. Because I had to work full-time while raising my son and going to college, it took me much longer to reach graduation but upon reaching graduation I landed a job as an accountant for a local restaurant business. You’d think my salary would have increased significantly but it didn’t. I was making $40,000 a year as an accountant with a Bachelors degree and $55,000 of student loan debt. (Remember I went to school longer than the usual 4 years so my debt is larger. Yes, I realize that was my decision and I accept responsibility for it. Still, it doesn’t make it any easier.)
The only time I made what I consider a decent amount of money in order for my son and myself to live comfortably and feel like the ‘American Dream’ was just around the corner was when I worked both a full-time job as an accountant and a part-time job at FedEx. I worked 6 days a week and my days were 17 to 18 hours long. I slept approximately 4 to 5 hours a night. I worked myself into the deepest depression I have ever experienced in my life but I made close to $58,000 that year. That experience has left me wondering if that is the only way I’ll ever make a decent salary. Is that what the ‘American Dream’ is about because if it is, I don’t want any part of it.
But, you know what I’ve discovered since? Life isn’t about the amount of money you make. I know it sounds crazy, but it’s true. Life is about relationships and loving and experiencing and learning. It’s about living. Really. Living. The sooner you realize this in your life the better off you’ll be because your decisions for your life will be based on this idea of living. You’ll decide not to go into debt or live beyond your means and you’ll find ways to make it work. You’ll get an education through scholarships and part-time work and maybe attending a community college for the first couple of years. You won’t sign up for those credit cards and you’ll keep your expenses below your income. Heck, you may even find a way to create a savings for yourself in the process! Bottom line, you won’t make choices that will keep you from living this life. That’s what the ‘American Dream’ should look like.
Now, religion puzzles me in lots of ways. Perhaps I’m too much of a skeptic or a scientist but it seems to me that religion, the bible and other ‘holy’ books in particular, was created and written by man. Perhaps it was created as a way to control the masses. What better way to get the masses to obey then to strike the fear of some unknown and unseen deity into the hearts of the people? What better way to find someone to put the blame on (Satan) when people do “bad” things? Also, what better way to not hold themselves accountable for their actions or decisions claiming that it must be what God or Allah wants?
So much violence and hate spews forth from religion, as well. It’s complete hypocrisy to teach about a deity that loves and forgives all then go on to preach hate against people based on holy “laws” that are really created by man when you truly look at the core of it.
When will we, as a human race, preach love and compassion and actually follow through with it? Completely?
The answers I’m looking for during this scary and unstable time in our life are evading me but I do know this: love and compassion towards ourselves and each other have more to do with them then we have yet to realize.