Your Life Is The Most Precious Commodity
The light of idealism that once guided actions has been snuffed out by a socioeconomic system that stymies ambitions, and the desire to grow as a human.
There was a time when a person’s value was defined by the value of their bank account. This misunderstood sense of self-worth day by day devoured creativity and our sense of joy. In its place was left behind a program, a calendar, a schedule, a shift, another Zoom meeting, another day. The banality of 9–5 in combination with working from home, the strict code by which one decides when to wash, when to eat, what to eat, when to go, when to stay, and when to sleep has become a part of our self-definition and self-isolation. The vapidity in our routines, our relentless reliance on social media for human connection, and our inability to physically experience the world are the primary tools in the oppression of everyday life, the exertion of power from within ourselves upon ourselves.
Recounting The Bleak History of the Last 10–15 Years
There exist at least two versions of history that different generations tell themselves. For millennials like myself, the last 10–15 years have not been kind.
I was part of a generation of kids that graduated college only to face mountains of debt and end up working as Starbucks baristas instead of pursuing our passions. It’s a sad day when the future of our world isn’t given the opportunity to make the changes in their own lives that would lead to a better place tomorrow but instead can make you a killer cappuccino. Every day was a downward spiral to a dark rock bottom, or at least what we thought was rock bottom…
The Great Recession in the late 2000s seemed like it might be the wake-up call new graduates were hoping for. Unable to find steady and well-paying employment, we crawled back. We fought back. We Occupied Wall Street, but we also lacked clear direction. We were young, decentralized, disorganized, and up against systems of control and power that we simply could not overcome. We lacked the spirit necessary to sustain a counter-cultural revolution in intellectual thought. Instead, we succumbed to our old habits and the comfort of our parents’ basements.
And while others in their late twenties and thirties of generations past, married, had children, purchased homes, we didn’t, not because we did not want to, but because we could not. But we had hope. We believed in our country and its leader. When questioned about the possibility of a better tomorrow, we enthusiastically answered the call with “YES WE CAN!” We stayed in the fight. We gave birth to the #MeToo movement and kept pushing for what we believed in. And when the orange devil became a reality, we hoped the world would burn. We believed that only when the streets were set on fire would people wake up to the reality we’ve been living. Instead, the devil was a pawn in the same game of power played by congressional cardinals. Despite our hopes, we still experienced injustice, and with millions of others, we proclaimed that all lives matter can only be true if Black Lives Matter. Right when we thought things might get better, we learned/are learning that a global pandemic that has globally killed millions and counting is destroying any possibility of economic stability in our near future. The orange devil did nothing to help us.
Our fight against the power of corruption was all for naught.
The lies, the betrayal, the fear and anxiety, the misinformation, alternative facts, and siloed existences culminated in an attack on the very symbol of our democracy, and to what end?
Admittedly, this is a very dark version of the last 10–15 years and potentially the near future, but it is the reality that millennials like myself have lived.
What have we learned?
Maybe I’m just complaining, and maybe the GOP is right, that I’m just lazy. That I need to work harder. That the rewards of capitalism are awarded to those who work the hardest. Others seem to have done just fine, and in some cases fantastic.
What’s their secret? What is it that allows some of us to succeed, while others struggle every day to put a dollar away? How is it possible that the stock market is booming while economic inequality is only deepening? Is it because we are subject to the imperialism of an economic system designed to keep us poor? Is it because we live in a world where we are fooled into living to work? Is it because we value the wrong things?
Life is now a commodity and that is what makes today so sad. We are products sold in the human market, a 21st-century economic indentured servitude. Our time is more valuable than money to corporate giants, and our life is the thing we work for.
The idea of working to live no longer resonates in the way it used to. It has for a very long time been a foreign concept. It no longer means working to travel the world, working to find new experiences, or working to find joy in conversation with friends. Working to live simply means working to live in the most literal sense. Working to survive another day and hope that tomorrow is better.