Today as always, men fall into two groups: slaves and free men. Whoever does not have two-thirds of his day for himself, is a slave, whatever he may be: a statesman, a businessman, an official, or a scholar. By Nietzsche
We are all living in a very peculiar world. The world where making things work faster, having us to do less work, having more and believing one day we will achieve more freedom. Interesting how our life goals are set. Interesting how we define ‘happiness‘.
So to me there would be the following major things we seek in our lives and that have high value in our culture:
- Personal freedom
The first one is personal freedom. We are pretty touchy about it. We want to decide about ourselves and be able to ‘own’ our lives. We can see nothing unnatural about it, even though the thought comes from human-supremacist movements of the 19th century. Like Nietzsche quoted earlier on. The nature is nothing like this. Earth is bonded to sun (which allows us to live btw), most plants and animals need to follow seasons and either avoid or be predators hunting for prey. Personal freedom as a separate entity is worthless in nature. If you look into more tribal way of living, you will find the spells and magic, and your fate being more important than a unit. Some cultures like Confucianism put a lot more focus on harmony of family and society, rather than personal freedoms. It is less of an advocacy of slavery, more a point to the fact we are extremely afraid of becoming slaves again.
The current humanist-capitalist culture of the so-called ‘Western-world’ is based mostly on Christianity. Willingly or not, this religion has a lot to do with slaves. It has also created the basics of our thinking, the main roots of our thought process. At the base of it being, the fifth factor multiple people believe in:
- At some point some greater being (or event) will release me from my pain and sorrow (as long as I am behaving correctly)
The prime cause, then, of slavery is sin, which brings man under the dominion of his fellow — that which does not happen save by the judgment of God, with whom is no unrighteousness, and who knows how to award fit punishments to every variety of offence.
St Augustine, The City of God, 19:15
We also love to accumulate wealth. This might be a factor, as most of the slave-owners or lords (that can save us one day) were rich. Very rich. Wealth is assumed as a guarantee factor against slavery. Also, once you are reach you can buy enough slaves to cater for your needs (supporting the other two important pillars of our society – speed and happiness). From what is known in history we would do absolutely anything to gain more wealth and with it more power. From this being the founding principle of the Roman Empire (collapsed, once there was nobody to pillage), through to 2008 housing and financial crisis.
It turns out that advancing equal opportunity and economic empowerment is both morally right and good economics, because discrimination, poverty and ignorance restrict growth, while investments in education, infrastructure and scientific and technological research increase it, creating more good jobs and new wealth for all of us. By President Clinton.
Wealth is so important to us, that we tend to compare our development as a society with increasing overall wealth, new jobs and new revenue streams.
Next comes impatience. With it the need for speed. Things done faster are things done better. This also goes now into replacing stuff and producing stuff. Today we can produce 5mln cars in 5 days, tomorrow in just four! How much better. We fail to look at the rate we are decaying Earths resources faster. Or that we kill more people with stress and stuff they don’t really need, but marketing and advertisers will tell them, these things are indispensable. Mad Men so called.
We go for speed on dating, on checking whether things work or not. For some reason we think it is better. This can also be traced back to the roots of being a slave and being forced to do things quicker. Where quicker meant better.
The last one – happiness, which we usually define as lack of any negative impulses in our life, is probably the most damaging. We can be happy sometimes, but actually life offers a lot more emotions than just happiness. All of these emotions matter. They can’t be neglected, unless we want to go into a cycle of illness of the soul.
The question is out there. I encourage you all to ask yourselves. Do I really want to follow an image of the world, based on slave-based-Christianity? Do I really believe the only development is economic growth? Do I really believe faster is better and that happiness is the only important thing in life, that the life is easy and slim? And lastly – would I die for my personal freedom, or rather life is not just about us and we should look at others and the surrounding world?