While I was re-watching the Wire for the third time, a particular line struck me. “It’s not difficult to kill people who are already in the business of killing themselves.” I know… It’s a little dramatic. Even though the line refers to the murderous cycle of drug using and dealing, it is relevant to our seemingly mundane lives. Like the addict who pours poison in his lungs and veins to temporary escape his own realities, we have become addicted to the fast paced American lifestyle of greed, materialism and the quick win.
“The sum total of the habits of a man is his nature” – Bhagavad Gita
Simply stated, we are what we do. I asked in an earlier post, are you an accidental expert? The things we do repeatedly [read, watch, listen to and eat] become our expertise. Moreover, our environment becomes our expertise. We are experts on our family, our best friends, our favorite restaurant, our favorite music genre, our favorite TV show, etc.
Marketers have a great understanding of human behavior and have used this knowledge to herd the masses toward certain products, services or ideas. They aren’t going to waste their time and money attempting to change a groups view in order to sell a product. Instead, they match a products “benefits” with the group. Health food marketers search for people interested in a healthful lifestyle. Bail bonds marketers look for people interested in avoiding jail time. Basically, you will not find a a bail bonds commercial during a healthy cooking/living show nor will you find an ad for Wholefoods during a VH1 reality show.
What is the opportunity cost of spending our limited time on earth doing things, eating foods, and communing with people that may offer temporary escape and fleeting joy but cause us long lasting pain, sickness, and suffering in the end?
It seems like common sense to avoid the things that will make you sick and unhappy and embrace the things that will make you healthy. It also seems like common sense to someone who has never done PCP or Crack to not risk trying it. However if you ask anyone who lived in a highly affected area during a drug epidemic, you will hear him say, “everyone was doing it or it just seemed like the thing to do.” When everyone is doing something, [regardless of how insane or self destructive that thing is] our minds have a difficult time believing that thing can be wrong.
As highly social human beings, we have a strong biological urge to be mentally herded like sheep. It’s why we blindly believe people with credentials and idolize the rich and famous. The more sheep a shepherd has herded, the greater he must be.We trust that our shepherds will keep us safe and happy. They’ll tell us the best places to graze [shop] and the best path [attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors] to get there. Even if we know better, we convince ourselves that so many sheep [friends, family, community] cannot be wrong
“The mind is its own place, and in itself, can make heaven of Hell, and a hell of Heaven.” – John Milton
Our decisions, actions and intentions shape our lives. The foods we eat, friends we keep and the environment we choose to be in create our reality. We can choose to subscribe to a popular culture that honors destruction or we can choose to seek a better way of life.
After all, “It’s not difficult to save people who are already in the business of saving themselves.”