I am a relaxed person. Until I read the newspaper, or see links from Facebook posts, telling me what is being done around me.
You see, I like not doing anything. That doesn’t mean I don’t work; I feel this writing is a kind of work maybe something Donald Hall terms “life work”: the work of being, the work of thinking, the work of creating.
I like walking the dogs, eating an egg or two or three, drinking coffee, drinking tea, drinking beer. I rarely shower two days in a row and I like that. I used to do much more than this, much differently, and I used to assign importance to many activities that seem to me now somewhat, if not useless, perhaps wasteful; I use to serve a system called employment. But I am still employed; I am just not serving an external end that may or may not be what I would term important, or good, or moral. I had no input in the purported end of my daily tasks.
I like talking, I like writing, I like listening to music. I like sitting and reading. I like talking to myself in the bathroom; though I often get mad at myself for not having a pen for writing at the ready. I have been the world’s most brilliant thinker in the bathroom but this momentousness is momentary and, sadly, unrecorded. Our loss, I fear, not just mine. (Proof is this writing now; it is a dull and pale imitation of my lavatorial luminescence.)
I did not like employment in the service of an external system deemed necessary by social construction. I had to perform in ways that were strictly for and about the system. I was the system then. And I was full of doing.
Systems need action; and systems need hierarchies; they need rulers, leaders, managers, bosses, tyrants, priests, executive officers. Systems need doers doing. They need inputs and outputs. All in the service of the system itself. For many of us in this service the end is money; for many the end is simply what is called life. It’s what is done, must be done. And this doing we allow ourselves (force ourselves) to call life. And it is this way of living “life” that creates a great and awful forgetting. It is forgotten that it is life in a system. We forget ourselves; we allow that the system’s life makes our life. This current system of living, of doing, of making, is relatively new. And yet, we live as if there is no other way to imagine being. How would we do anything if our structures disappeared? (A thought we really should be attending to in these changing times.)
I have no interest in doing. I have an interest in many things but none of them compromise my life to a system that we call mindless and because it is so, is also amoral. But here’s a secret: calling a system “amoral” allows those that manage and serve it to be “amoral” also. However, it is the very amorality of a system, it’s very construction as a system allowed to be outside the thinking mind of the humans, that allows for the deepest roots of immorality. How have we forgotten the most horrendous and instructive lesson ever taught modern humanity. Genocide seems a commonplace throughout the history of humanity (as is doing…we have done and continue to do genocide), but what we learned from the Third Reich was that the modern mechanical world has created “amorality” in systems that allow for the most heinous acts to be commonplace.
We are culpable for the immoral actions within our “amoral” systems. All of us.
It is the great confusion that this mindless system which we absolve of the horrors of exhaustion and depletion, we also praise for providing all that we value. As if you and I can and could have done nothing of value without it. As if penicillin could not exist without government, without capitalism, without our systems. As if this discovery could not have become universal without our mindless production and selling of it. As if it would not be the simplest and most commonly believed good in the human world to give away all knowledge of any thing we deem of mutual aid.
As we labor under this illusion, surely the greatest manipulation a demiurge, god, or devil could imagine for us, we continue our role as agents of decay and depletion, of foul rapacious greedy dying. For all the riches in the world are only the provenance of the very ground we will find ourselves within
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We do ourselves to death, with eyes turned toward the light, yet closed to the truest depths. The stone of life need roll nowhere.
Very well said, Doug! The truth is that most of us flounder in this system; we struggle daily to find meaning in our employment, trying to create a narrative that makes sense, while looking for a way out. We feel faceless, our jobs are not unique extensions of our selves, and in the end they do not benefit us, even if they provide a means to food and shelter.
As Ben Kweller sang “I don’t know where we are but I know what I like to do”. Of course you really know where you are and you have a lot to do, humility aside.