The struggles of living in a profit-based society

by Geena SCARPETE WALTERS

These days people prefer associating themselves in either of the following categories: nationalist or globalist. Before diving into these two notions, nationalist and globalist, let us travel back in time to an era when fighting for your lands was considered an honorable thing. It spoke highly of one’s character and his personal integrity to defend that which was his. The more you had, the more respected you were in your community. If you had no money, you were literally no one. Even as a woman, you represented to your future husband a financial investment – your dowry was the promise for a good life. Except for the poor people, working in service of the rich ones, I don’t think anyone was disturbed by those circumstances. Getting married, like many other types of business transactions, was a deal that ultimately contributed to the wealth of your family. Women spent most of their time inside the house, decorating their house, hosting dinners, ensuring that the servants were working well, and the children were taken care of accordingly, while men were the providers. The pressure put on the providers was so high that many times they ended up dead in their 50s either because of a stroke, heart attack, or even by committing suicide. As you can understand, I referred to the rich families because those were who really mattered (and this still tends to hold true today, too). Throughout the centuries, the cover of the book might have changed, but the inside stayed quite the same. In short, we know how to sell and make money, how to adjust the story to a new audience. Isn’t it quite frabjous this new era we live in?! The national pride, the pride of belonging to a community meant the whole world to someone. People liked to focus on the well-being of their families and the prosperity of their communities …

English dictionaries define nationalist as “a person who strongly identifies with their own nation and vigorously supports its interests, especially to the exclusion or detriment of the interests of other nations.” How do I define a nationalist? You can call yourself a nationalist if you are a person who thinks that belonging to his country and fighting for it is still an honorable thing to do. A nationalist also could be a person who believes that his nation stands at the top of the hill, the cherry on top, the cream of the crop (okay, enough, the top of the top!). He struggles every day to convince everyone of such a thing, including himself. A nationalist also is someone who doesn’t welcome outsiders. A nationalist doesn’t like to share; he suffers for the pain of his countrymen, exclusively, and above of all, he is proud of his walls. Oh, wait, a nationalist also is the person who takes pride in others’ accomplishments (assuming they belong to the same nation) and sheds enormous tears at the sight of that piece of cloth we call the flag. Finally, a nationalist is that person who will read this article and resent me, and it’s fine, it really is.

At the beginning, I peeked at the past because I really wanted to show that for many of us, defending our own land, territory, country, nation, people, etc. still matters. In relation to my previous article, nationalism is another phenomenon that divides and oftentimes causes violence. Belonging to an authoritarian and powerful nation will make you think that you have the right to impose upon those who are weak and small. Today, the worst is that violence is wrapped up in a gold, shiny gift box with a card attached that reads, “We are here to save you!” The paradox is when “to save you” equals “to kill you,” but as our ancestors used to say, “exitus acta probat,” and life goes on. Nationalism might sound horrific but is nonetheless appreciated, supported, admired, and held in high regard by many citizens in this world (not by me, though).

But Cain must have his Abel, and if you don’t identify yourself with the above description then you must be a globalist.

What is a globalist? Is it a good thing? It is defined by the same dictionaries as “a person who advocates the interpretation or planning of economic and foreign policy in relation to events and developments throughout the world.” Unofficially, it’s said that a globalist is “someone who believes that ultimately all borders and nations should be dissolved, resulting in one single government.” Ooops! Going to extremes, people! If we were to tie it to politics, we would say that all left-wing politicians are globalists. Unfortunately, their purpose is still wrapped in one of those gold, shiny gift boxes. Although their policy encourages immigration, fights for unity and the same rights, in reality immigrants are seen as a chance for cheap labor and sources for a reliable voting bloc. To my mind, a true globalist should see the world as a whole, where people can trust and can be trusted, where everyone’s needs and rights are treated equally, where discrimination and racism should be prohibited, where sharing ideas, customs, and wealth should come naturally, where you would be ashamed to be too wealthy, where you would be happy having as much as you need so everyone else can have, too. Many of you would argue that this sounds more like what an idealist would think. Perhaps these two, a globalist and an idealist, should go hand in hand …

As we all know, inequality per se is inherently unjust, and when the gap between poor and rich grows, Mother Nature arises to create balance. Whether you are a nationalist or a globalist, poorer or richer, good or bad, I’ve learned from life and history that the visible and tangible tokens of wealth and success first appear only after things have in reality gone into decline already. You cannot be forever rich, nor can you be forever poor. If you ask me, I believe there is nothing honorable in being a nationalist these days, it conflicts with the changes in the flow of time. Now, what does it feel like to live in a world that mostly identifies itself with these obsolete concepts, such as national pride, national identity, or patriotism? Or to add even more to it, what does it feel like to live in an extreme capitalist world where nationalists, globalists, and all sorts of different species coexist?

And here we go … Believe it or not, I am more and more convinced that the factories of socialist regimes have nowadays evolved into capitalist corporations. Everything must change, they say, but change is not always meant for the best interest of humankind, and when you choose to polish an old shoe, all you might achieve is a temporary brightness that sooner than later will tend to fade, revealing its real aspect before falling apart. So, how can we survive peacefully in a world where people are treated like numbers? If a while ago some of us used to wear tags, today we have badges. What is this all about? The sound of the badge in and out of the building, a number that contributes to your identification; in a computer, your name – just a collection of black letters. Freedom has never been granted entirely; if you really think of it, you are not free to be free, you are being manipulated to believe in a sort of freedom within a totally controlled world.

When you start by looking closely at various institutions that control mankind, such as hospitals, pharmacies, insurance companies, schools, supermarkets, government and its imposed taxes, political parties, churches and religions, and various corporations investing money in things we could easily live without, you realize that you are just an object yourself among billions of other objects. If you do your job well enough, you are allowed to be part of the system. Otherwise, disobeying the world order might cause you to be erased like a virus. Well, I have an idea … let’s be the virus!

In a world with nationalists and globalists, one of the most interesting ways of manipulation is through a most hideous marketing strategy, the so called “discounts and sales.” Let’s consider hospitals, the pharmaceutical industry, and health insurance companies. You will soon realize that this is the most confusing trio, with contradicting rules meant to charge you for your medical visits with your own money while making you believe that you’re getting a significantly discounted rate of the entire cost. But if I am getting such a huge discount, why do I still have to pay thousands out of my own pocket?! This treatment resembles sales in the mall or supermarket, and it looks like the following: buy this skirt for $50, on sale from $450; the truth is its value was $50 from the very beginning. Car dealers do the same thing, marking up the price of vehicles in preparation for you haggling the price down or to “reward” you with special rebates. But don’t you get excited? Of course, you do. For most people, being lied to is quite comforting. Lied to by friends and family, lied to by a political party during a campaign, lied to by churches that try to sell God and faith to a different level, lied to by the government, lied to everywhere you go. You either pretend you don’t get it for whatever reason, or you are truly brainwashed and lack serious critical thinking.

If we were to touch the subject of religions and churches around the world, one of the most controversial phrases attributed to Christianity is “do not doubt but believe.” How convenient! If you start questioning everything you are being told, you will soon realize that everything you believe in is an illusion. Having faith in something higher seems to be applicable to everything, not only to religion and the idea of a supreme creator. In other words, pay your taxes and do not question, pay your bills and do not question, pay your doctors and do not question, pay your school and do not question, pay your church and do not question, pay whatever and do not question. In reality, I do start questioning, who am I paying and what am I paying for?

Numbers and sales. And where was the value left? Ugh, are we supposed to have value in everything we do? As world turned out to be, the answer would be negative. When you pay your bills, have you ever asked yourself what those $70 or $150 essentially represent? Don’t we deserve more of an explanation? When you pay your taxes, wouldn’t it be fair to get more information about how every penny that goes to your taxes is being invested? What did you do with my money? We should all receive an explicit report at the end of every year about where all our money went. Do I feel respected or valued in a world where I am being asked to pay but never given any explanations? NO. Do you feel respected or valued? If you say yes, I’ll go ahead and assume that you and I will never be friends.

Hence, in a profit-based society the struggles are more real than ever. As a detail-oriented person myself and with an extremely critical eye to almost everything, it is very difficult to take life as it is. Your expectations grow bigger with each passing year and all you want is the world to follow a different path. We certainly have the freedom to call ourselves globalists, nationalist, democrats, socialists, etc. As far as democracy is concerned, I don’t think that we have ever had a genuine form of democracy. I do believe though that democracy has been always an aspiration, something we want to get to. What would an ideal and simple world should look like? A world where our healthcare and education should be given to us for free, as a right to which we all should have access and not as a luxury that only the chosen ones can afford.

In the meantime, let us dream …

Photo credit: www.robbiebach.com

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