I wrote this thinkpiece, or rant, or article quite a few months ago, but am putting on the blog just now.
A New York City hip-hop artist once wrote that "sleep is the cousin of death", and so if sleep is the cousin of death, then fatigue and exhaustion must be its correlatives.
On the bus and on subway trains we see people seemingly miserable, struggling, and half-hearted in their approach to daily life. The majority are immigrants, poor single mothers, the disregarded, disadvantaged, and underprivileged working class, competing in a contest of survival for the lowest paying, most undesirable blue-collar jobs that earn them less than the cost of living. The remainder are the middle class which are divided into two groups: thousands of faceless students emerging from private universities and colleges with $ 40,000 clouds already over their heads, for the simple "privilege" of holding a useless, generic undergraduate degree.
Along with them are the lower-wrung rat race "urban professionals" who pursue happiness in the form of fiance status and furniture they can't afford, and whose only comforts are pumpkin spice lattes, Stephanie Meyer novels, and a bottle of Merlot. The simplistic conversations about their dogs and their trips to Europe, and their regurgitation of everything the media feeds them from pop culture to status-quo politics, helps you understand the obliviousness and indifference which dominates the thinking of western culture. An isolated people who don't smile at strangers, collectively carrying the gloomy weight of soul-bleaching subservience and conformism. All of them pressured and stressed by the pervasive burden of competition, have they any choice but to become jaded and dejected, demoralized and hopeless? Fidel Castro once wrote, "there is nothing in this world as bitter as a people who go to sleep in liberty, and awaken in slavery." The citizens of the West think they live in the most just and equal societies of the world, yet they are victims to the hoax of the two-party system "democracies" which control their lives. Neo-democracy, as I refer to this system, is a system based on individualism, selfishness, and isolation which breaks down the social fabric, and makes the population tired, lethargic, cynical, and confused.
We live in a world where we concern ourselves about a healthy and robust economy, but not about healthy citizens. We live in a world where people absolutely must get their Tim Horton's or Starbucks coffee in the morning even if it means wasting thirty minutes of their day waiting in line to get it. We live in a world where you get a free handy picnic chicken bag wiht your KFC mega meal, and the latest ice cream flavours are peppermint stick, Festive Eggnog, Apple Pie, and Santa's Milk and Cookies. We live in a wold where body wash has you feeling ready to take on your day, and where "revolutionary" is understood to explain what the new stain remover can do for your bathtub and your old silverware. We live in a world where people are consumed with tomorrow night's results of So You Think You Dance, or the next episode of Heroes, when imperialist wars and occupations are ravaging the Middle-East, and the majority of resource rich countries. We live in a world where shopping carts get shelters, and homeless people don't.
We live in a world where the poor are forced to shop at Wal-Mart and other mega discount department stores, because these stores are the only ones to offer products which are affordable to them. The way these mega discount store corporations keep prices exceptionally low is by externalising costs. They externalize costs by paying low employee salaries, by providing little or non-existant health insurance, through mass production and mass distribution, with cheap oil from Iraq, and cheap production labour from China, Mexico and many other countries. They externalize costs by making Indigineous and poor working people pay when neoliberal governments give corporations permission to exploit lands and extract natural resources that don't belong to them, for free, and by receiving permission for 100 % repatriation of profits. They make everything else, and everyone else pay for their profits. The wealth and natural resources of the people are handed to corporations on a silver platter. So the planet, the indigenous, and poor working people are the ones actually paying for the true costs of production all along the chain of extraction, production, and distribution, and not the consumers paying the ridiculously low prices for these products. But, since poor working people, third world immigrant families, single mothers, etc, can afford to buy these products only from these mega discount stores, they are keeping these corporations alive, healthy, and wealthy. And, because they are the ones, vassals to plunder and exploitation, paying for the true costs of production in the first place, the very victims of this system then become the market which perpetuates the same vicious cycle of destitution. In other words, their poverty and desperation feeds their own misery and exploitation; as consumers they are fueling the very system which destroys them as workers.
We live in a world subjugated by a cycle of perpetuating poverty.