Live for a Career

Laid out in front of you is a linear path: get your GCSEs, then some A Levels, a degree, a master’s if you’re good enough, maybe even a PhD, then start a career, and progress up a directionless ladder motivated by incremental salary increases, inflating responsibility and minimising personal time. 

You must strive for these opportunities which are dressed up as successes. You must overstretch yourself to reach that next level, and the one after that and the one after that, wondering when will all this overachieving end? To be content in your place is to be seen as a failure. When are you going to take the next step? When are you going to focus on your career? 

It’s not even clear what that word means – career. It seems more like a contrived way to keep everyone pigeonholed in their teeny tiny boxes. A career is a linear path confined like no other. A trajectory only within your industry. You must go up and up this specific ladder even though it may become more perilous, even though that one beside you has rungs closer together. You mustn’t hop sideways or god-forbid go downwards. You must keep earning more and more! Take on more and more responsibility! Do what you enjoy less and less! Grind the gears of capitalist monotony! And when you’re 70 you can rest, you can enjoy your hobbies then with your dwindling pension, and health issues caused by a life of over-exhaustion

– if you make it.

All those things you enjoyed at school; art, dance, and reading become frivolous activities. They’re permitted on self-care Sunday if you have time. They don’t contribute towards your career; therefore, they are self-indulgent. They’re packed up in something called wellness which has been manufactured to try and counterweigh the longer working hours, dwindling pay increases and lack of job satisfaction. Suddenly picking up a paintbrush feels foreign, like trying to sign your name with your non-dominant hand. Dance can only be accommodated if it takes the form of a sweat inducing exercise session which sees the circles on your smart watch swivel round to completion. Reading is permittable at the end of the day if all other tasks are completed and only if you don’t fall asleep bleary eyed from a too-much-screen-time induced headache.

To say no to it, to the opportunities, is to be ungrateful. To say no is to not overachieve, and the only acceptable performance is the over, is the exceeding.  Now you’re failing, not living up to your promise, a promise that is quantified through salary, the brand of your car and how many bedrooms your house has. It doesn’t consider your happiness, the impact you have on the world, the number of smiles that you put on the faces of those around you. To be linear is to continue striving to the point of exhaustion. Why not be non-sequential? Learn one thing, move onto another, try something different, find what you loathe, what you love, what makes your heart soar, what makes your pulse rise with anticipation, what makes your breath clam up in your throat, your palms sweat. Find what makes your muscles ache, your mind stall. Find what fills you up with happiness at the end of the day and sends you off into contented sleep. Find what gets you up in the morning with a smile. 

One meagre measly ladder up to success can’t do this. You can find elements of a career that fulfil you but ultimately, it’s a means to an end. There’s more to life than contributing to a system that chews you up and spits you out when you become too old to bring benefit to it any longer. Learn, give back, mentor, enjoy, there’s more to life than striving to an ideal of a perfect career which does not exist.

Blue Monday

“Thought I was mistaken
I thought I heard your words
Tell me, how do I feel?
Tell me now, how do I feel?” 
New Order – Blue Monday

 

It’s Monday the 21st of January: “Blue Monday” 2019. A day when emotion is universally prescribed “blue” ergo, depressed. A day which, whilst at the same time as bringing mental health into the national consciousness, trivialises it. And as much as we try, as much as we fight it, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy – for some, so much more than others.

Maybe it wouldn’t be so problematic, if it weren’t for the fact that, under the facade of “Blue Monday,” sits a sinister, yet tenacious marketing tactic. It’s not overly surprising to learn it’s a PR stunt, devised by a travel company to boost sales, to make money. It’s longevity is pure evidence that this tactic is working. “Blue Monday” continues to exist to uphold capitalism by acting as an annual reminder that: if you feel blue, you should spend money (substituting the usual “If you love someone, spend money on them” (See: Christmas, Easter, Valentine’s day et al)) –

“Get a red cup to beat the blues”

“Blue Monday isn’t blue when you’re enjoying our Cheddar!”

“Cheer up your Blue Monday with a sneaky treat!”

Then you’ll feel better. Wouldn’t it be lovely to think that a bit of spending could “cure” what can be, incurable? Not medication. Not counselling. Spending. Spending, which is also –  *absurdly* – one of the main contributing factors to the 3rd Monday of January being “Blue Monday” in the first place. You can see where this is going… Hats off to the big wig advertisers (capitalists) that came up with this vicious cycle of individual suffering!

So why don’t I just shut up and enjoy my free cheeseburger?

Because there are SO MANY people for which a freebie just won’t cut it, myself included. For people who suffer from poor mental health on a regular basis (at least 1 in 4 of us), to wake up and find it is “Blue Monday” is the most self-fulfilling of all prophecies. It can’t be shaken by a fucking Costa coffee (cheese maybe). But jokes aside, poor mental health is something people live with, day in, day out, not simply annually. To trivialise mental health in this way, to disregard medical illness, for the sake of a pseudo-scientific “Blue Monday” is dangerous – for everyone. It’s not healthy for a calendar-event to dictate emotion, to set an expectation on a universal scale, to stuff our mouths with consumer items to stifle our words.

“And I still find it so hard
To say what I need to say
But I’m quite sure that you’ll tell me
Just how I should feel today”
New Order – Blue Monday

“Believe in the UK”

Believe that the “UK” is a nation founded on abuses of power. Believe that the “UK” is the proponent of colonialism. Believe that as a result the “UK” enslaved peoples all over the world for its own gain. Believe that the “UK” can return to its former “glory days” of economic prosperity whilst ignoring the staggering social impact of this. Believe that the “UK” can go it alone, that it doesn’t need the support of other countries which have been integral to the “UK” we know today. Ignore all of this to believe in the “UK”, to believe in yourself, to blame immigration and whimsical EU laws for your own failures. Believe in the “UK” in which even once severed from the ties of the EU you’ll still look in the mirror and hate yourself, just a staggeringly worse off version of yourself – unless you’ve gained from this severance in which you can be reassured that the public hatred will never end. Believe in the “UK” if you want to put your own misdirected interests above those of the whole, if you want to return to a fictitious nation based on selfishness. If you want to deny that any divisions exist across the North and South, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and England believe in the “UK.” Believe in the UK, because you haven’t got anything else left, because the image of the past is so much more appealing than the present; the future. Believe in the “UK” – Believe in Brexit.

Freedom Is An Illusion

Sometimes it’d just be easier to eradicate the necessity of decision making. Remove freedom. Wipe the slate clean of guilt and second guessing and those formidable ‘what ifs?’. To be pre-programmed, wired, robotic; emotionless. To drift through life carefree. Robotic-robust-mundane.

”Robot vehicles blindly programmed to preserve the selfish molecules known as genes”

– Richard Dawkins

I’d condemn this as being painfully and poisonously cynical, but really are we anything more than robots? Does freedom even exist in reality or is it just an idyllic concept?

What even is freedom?

To summarise the Oxford Dictionary, freedom is:

  1. The power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants- absence of subjection, independent of fate or necessity
  2. The state of not being imprisoned or enslaved
  3. Freedom from the state

The absence of restriction: does that really equate to ‘freedom’? How can absence correlate to things that we have been granted, for instance; the right to vote? It’s logically impossible for absence to equate to something: the absence of sadness does not revel the subject into happiness.  ‘You can’t prove a negative’ (James Randi) so can a negative be ‘something’?

Freedom from the state: can you call a society that is so heavily stipulated by money, and the media, free? Why if we are free to do as we please do we all aspire to such similar ideals, why do we follow the same path and conform to the same standardised expectations? Complete freedom from the state would entail a society whereby aspirations were based purely on happiness rather than social, political or economic factors. Where people had the opportunity to do whatever they wanted to do rather than being pigeon holed, spoon fed and indoctrinated into a ‘career’ prescribed to them by their socio-economic status- and nothing else. Why do we feel obliged to do things that we don’t want to do? It still feels like we need to break free from the constrictive chains of society, the cyclical 9-5 ominous clock ticking lifestyle- if that’s the sentiment how can this adhere to ‘freedom from the state’?

But do we even want to be free?



All we seem to do is restrict ourselves. Walking the same paths over and over again although there’s nothing stopping us from wandering off in another direction. It’s as if we all know we’re free but there’s some mental incapability to allow ourselves to fully embrace the freedom that we’ve been granted or to overturn the constraints of society. We enjoy being comfortable, not having to worry, eradicating decision making is so much easier- but then nothing seems worthwhile. We can’t have it all.

Are we free by nature but extrinsically restricted by our own surroundings?

Intrinsically free- extrinsically constrained.

Vaingloriousness


“There’s nothing wrong with an enlarged gap between rich and poor”

Said a privately educated middle class university student.  An enlarged gap between rich and poor is evidence of the failings of society, politics and economics. The fucking failings of mankind. The urge to retaliate to this imbecility is insatiable, to name and shame, out this idiot for his close minded naive opinions; but he’s not the only one.

I, for one, didn’t realise we were living in 1920s America where economic prosperity was stipulated by narrow minded money obsessed bankers with no understanding of the poor such as Andrew Mellon. I didn’t realise it was every man for himself. I thought we’d evolved somewhat past that point.

Do milestones such as the Great Depression and the Financial Crisis not signify that the ‘every man for himself’, hierarchical, money obsessed economy model doesn’t work? We’re still in a deficit, there are still people living below the breadline. Really- what is the point?

But we’ve got out own Andrew Mellon, our own big money-big business-crush the poor chancellor of the exchequer: George Osborne, who fails to understand over half of the population.

In light of the public shock facing the Philpott case Osborne claims:

“The courts are responsible for sentencing, but I think there is a question for government and for society about the welfare state, and the taxpayers who pay for the welfare state, subsidising lifestyles like that. I think that debate needs to be had.”

It isn’t a fucking lifestyle issue. It’s an issue of evil. Society can produce ‘bad’ people. But not evil. It’s intrinsic. It’s not due to the benefits system and the welfare state that Philpott to murdered his children- it’s because he was intrinsically evil- anyone would have to be to do that. Nature not nurture: fucking naivety. Maybe rather than looking at reforming the welfare state it is the judiciary system that needs to be analysed; because really, is his ‘life’ sentence good enough?

Society is unjust. Rather than punishing Philpott adequately for his crimes, MPs are calling for the welfare system to be analysed and thus punishing the poor. It’s blatant stereotyping and it’s completely uncalled for. As it stand only 3% of the total cost of welfare goes to the unemployed including the Philpott family and 40% is spent on the elderly- how does it seem right then to claim that the welfare state needs reforming due to this case? A reform that would simply widen the gap between rich and poor, desecrate equality and destroy lives. Statistics and figures should have no prevalence over people’s quality of life. Money should mean nothing but it consumes fucking everything.

In a society based on logic the concepts of ‘underprivileged’ and ‘deprived’ would not exist and people would not be perceived as either rich or poor

-but simply people.

 

Welcome to the Jungle

The mistreatment of animals is a daily occurrence: something that is necessary to continue our selfishly homogeneous lifestyles. Animals are used on a daily basis for our own benefit: food, clothing, medicine, souvenirs and most of all for monetary profit. Basically the exploitation of animals aids our filthily greedy capitalist society. This ‘profit’ currently exceeds $10 billion annually. Is it worth it? This includes 26.4 tons of ivory hacked from 2760 elephants. 2760 lives destroyed. In no way is that justifiable. In no way can ‘profit’ be worth a life… of any species. I can not stress enough how money is a symbol of nothing but our own HUMAN greed. Why should animals suffer at the hands of our selfishness? For what? So some egotistical human with more money than sense can own a nice rug, a trinket, a souvenir. Degrading a corpse- or part of one- basically. Animals are not disposable.


The WWF campaign speaks for itself -literally: ‘I am not medicine’, ‘I am not a trinket’, ‘I am not a rug’. This is either personification or fucking true. If you reject animal rights, then you must reject the idea of animals as a ‘conscious thinking thing’ (John Locke), otherwise this is genocide. The use of speech in the campaign hardly raises an eyebrow on first view, however it is clear that to reject these claims one must interpret the advertisement as purely anthropomorphising animals and giving them attributes, such as thought and speech, that are not applicable to them. In contrast, by accepting the opinions and voices of these animals as advertised, one is accepting the fact that animals are in fact a ‘conscious thinking thing’ in the same way as humans, and thus, should be treated equally.


How is there any hope, though, for equality between species if there’s not even equality within species?


Our monetarist, capitalist society, is devoid of any concept of equality; women are still fighting for equal rights across the globe, racism and discrimination are still prevalent in every sector and ageism is illustrated daily by government policy. Of course, if we can’t even respect our fellows then we are going to exploit other species. 


In both evolutionary and religious terms animal rights are prominent. In evolutionary terms, the human race is derived from animals, the history of animals including us is an intricate interlaced web of development- should we abuse our ancestors? Materialistically, without a psyche, there is nothing to distinguish the human race from animals other than an alleged ‘higher intelligence’ and this is no justifiable reason to exploit and abuse: we don’t mistreat mentally disabled humans as they have a lower intelligence, do we? – rather we care for them more. Religiously, animals were created by God and therefore hold the same sacred attributes as us with the idea of stewardship also being highlighted in the Bible: 

“The righteous care for the needs of their animals”- Proverbs 12:10


Although there is a sense of ownership here, it is still clear that animals have certain rights that should be respected and this is our responsibility. Arguably, this is rather outdated as the Bible usually is on the topic of equality and rights; even so the general message completely conflicts with the current treatment of animals in our society. It seems evident also that the mistreatment of animals correlates with morality- ‘righteous’– the mistreatment is morally wrong. This raises the question: where does the current mistreatment of animals derive from if not from science or religion? 


Our ravenously selfish vaingloriousness. 


We’re the brutes, the beasts, the animals- it’s not fun and games.

Social Apocalypse

I feel like all I write about are fucking paedophiles and shootings. Does this not just reiterate the fact that something radical- revolutionary- needs to be done to rectify these social problems? Society is decrepit, with hateful acts rotting away at it’s score, seeping hate, disillusionment and resent. The stench is impenetrable. The cause lost. Where does family, friends, love and happiness stand in a society that secretes paedophiles and murderers?

Society is perverse. There is no saving what we have become. Bring me social apocalypse because that sounds like fucking salvation from where I’m standing. I’m sick of languishing in a society of hate and greed where innocent people’s lives are corrupted by the immorality of other’s. It’s not fair that one person has the power to inflict torturous, unforgettable pain on someone else. There is no justice. No punishment could ever rectify the abhorrent memories stored in one’s mind, those memories that resurface like clockwork- daily. As much as I think rot in hell to those paedophiles and murderers and rapists and all those other immoral cunts out there their acts can never be rectified.

There’s no fucking point in anything. There’s no rosy, hazy future of rainbows and sunshine just the grim reality that we are falling deeper into this abyss of immorality where nothing can save us.

I am fucking angry- we should all be fucking angry.

The Green Light

“He stretched out his arms toward the dark water in a curious way, and, far as I was from him, I could have sworn he was trembling. Involuntarily I glanced seaward—and distinguished nothing except a single green light, minute and far away” (The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald)

The American Dream; an ideal that was, and still is, inexplicably unreachable.  However, was this ideal in danger of being on an even more unreachable precipice in the last week? As with Gatsby, there’s always that object, the dark water, blocking our ability to fulfil our dreams, be that the restrictions of society, our own fears or the actions of others; it is arguable that this dark water, this object preventing us from reaching our dreams and fulfilling our desires was going to have a face: Mitt Romney’s.

Romney’s political stance, the political stance of GOP in it’s entirety, jeopardises any hope that the American Dream still exists. Like Gatsby’s world, the proposed policies of Romney involved money, and money alone; reminiscent of the laissez faire-minimal government-maximise profits ideology of the 1920’s, with one difference: economic state. The idea to maximise profits and minimise government policy seems justifiable in a society where social issues are non-existent, however, this utopia is purely fictional. Similarly to the 1920’s, 2012 America has many social issues; issues of welfare, rights and still, race. Romney condemned Obama’s social policies as ‘extraordinary financial gifts’, citing free health care and contraceptive medications in particular, things that we, in Britain, perhaps take advantage of. Nonetheless, doesn’t the fact that we take advantage of these things, show how essential they are to our welfare?

Romney claims that the ‘big issues for the whole country’ are: military strategy, foreign policy and a strong economy. But what about freedom, education and healthcare? Surely these are greater, and more widely applicable issues for the population of America. The foundation of every society should be personal liberties: freedom of speech, press, the right to vote and so on. But, even in America, these liberties are still not established. Romney’s stance on social issues projects anti-abortion and anti-gay rights and therefore anti-freedom, setting back the progress of the last 60 years. Is this really in the best interests of the American population: imposing on, rather than granting further rights?

The loss of, or lack of such rights seriously imposes on any ideal of the ‘American Dream’, an ideal dependent on the ability to choose, and hence the availability of freedom. The loss of our, the common people’s ability to achieve their ‘American Dream’ allow people, like Mitt Romney, to achieve theirs. This is unethical, at least, according to Kantian Ethics: an act that uses others as a means to an end is wrong. The eyes of a Dr T.J Eckleburg looks over us judging our morality, or lack of, placing our dreams on a precipice.

And so, the dark water ebbs onwards between us and our dreams, until disillusion forms and we are left with nothing, hardly a glimmer of hope.

All in the name of political ideology.

 

The Greed Society

Nothing is sincere anymore. Everyone and everything has an ulterior motive. Even something that’s meant to be sincere, selfless and giving is motivated by greed.

Fundraising is something that comes under this umbrella of  goodness, selflessness and sincerity, but unfortunately this umbrella is permeated by droplets of human greed, saturating it’s surface until something, even as good as charity, becomes a point of selfishness. Everything is subdued by want of profit or some other form of self attainment and I ask myself ‘does selflessness even exist?’ Is every action derived from human greed? Surely if we analyse every action or decision we have made every single one adheres to an aspect of greed and self attainment.

What becomes even more apparent is the correlation between concepts that are generally conceived as selfless and those that are acknowledged as selfish, for example; fundraising and banking. Through personal experience it is evident that paid fundraisers have just as many, if not more, pound signs in their eyes than bankers. To some extent the methods of paid fundraisers are incredibly more concerning than those of bankers. A whole business hiding behind the charade of being for charity: employees breaking laws to try and get more donations to aid their bonus, forcing elderly people to stand at their doorsteps when it is obvious that they are physically unable to, and exploiting the generosity of the vulnerable- it all seems pretty unethical to me.

Fundraising should be about encouraging people to give, not forcing them. It should not be about greed and trying to exceed your targets to procure YOUR bonus, it should be about that feeling you get when you realise how many people’s lives you are aiding by procuring donations.

That feeling of overwhelming happiness that you get when you know you’ve done something ‘right’ should always be enough to do anything- but is even this just another form of self attainment?

And we come back to the same debate, is anything selfless? Can we ever escape the binding characteristics of our human nature and demonstrate true selflessness?