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Purpose

Purpose

By David Moncrief (2/19/14)

To follow one’s passions and to be able to survive is something largely lost in society today. The influence and restriction of money, the corruption of intent it induces, negates the ability to follow your interest. For an example you need only look to parents who decide what career their child will take based on its average salary.

The world now contains 6.5% of all humans that have ever lived. That number may seem small but when stretched over our evolutionary existence it puts the magnitude of our species in perspective. We inhabit every continent, indulge in every climate, and sustain ourselves with widespread luxuries. Yet with all our numbers we are failing to provide the same opportunity that was presented to each successive generation of our ancestors. Some blame this on over-population, but I say it is under-utilization. People today live by working jobs that serve the purpose of upholding the functioning of a society that has grown to its seams. We produce food for our population with only 2% of our workforce being in agriculture. That means that the other 98% are working jobs that do not directly bring food to their plates. They pay for it with money they earn but the jobs they do are not working fields and tending cattle. This is an advantage over every single earlier generation where large portions of the population were directed only towards providing sustenance. Yet because of this we have the development of an economy largely aimed towards production of unnecessary goods and overconsumption. We structure our ideology and goals to be excessive beyond measure and individualistic to desensitize ourselves to the injustice and irrationality that simultaneously creates billionaires and starving children. This ability to create that has been given to us by agriculture’s mechanization is usurped by the necessity to be a “productive member” of the society that has no long-term purpose.

Is this the height of civilization? Has there been a civilization that does not claim to be an improvement on its past? Cries for revolution seldom come in the form of “follow me and I will make it worse.” However, intentions and implementation are two things that seldom overlap. Robert Michels had a theory he called the “iron law of oligarchy.” It stated that the one thing that was certain for a civilization is the eventual conglomeration of power in the hands of a few. In representative democracy this claim extends to a façade being created in which the rule of an elite is made legitimate by what is presumed to be the “popular vote.” This elite has worked our political structure to place blame on the public. They use the argument that bad rulers are the fault of the electorate that voted them in. I have often said that I prefer a monarchy to the bureaucracy of democracy. When something went wrong, when the country was failed, when oppression became too great…you knew who to point towards. The failures of today are remedied by plausible deniability and scapegoats. The improvement on the past is one enjoyed solely by the elite who continue to rule. Democracy, much like technical advancements that enable eavesdropping on every citizen of the digital world, has confined us.

We live lives that are cut out for us within the structure made by “job creators.” The mass populace is looked on as sheep that need to be led to pasture and told what to eat. We fit where we are told we fit. Those who revolt are left to exist at the bottom. Only by changing yourself to what is called the “gentlemen ideal,” the set of values as described to be that of an elite, successful, moral person, will one become successful and integrated into the economic structure of society. That is a world ruled by necessity.

Now imagine if those 98% of individuals were able to wake up and follow what they found to be their life’s purpose. To take the passion they have been dreaming about or saving up for and start that business or write that piece of music. What would the world be like if the people who were versed in civil code and statutes instead placed their abilities in philosophy and rationality?

As a species our issue is not that we see ourselves only as individuals, though that is a fallacy, but that as individuals we are unable to cohesively work together for a common purpose.

The error is in our inability to act as the person you are, not the person you have to become. There is no end goal in that way of life, only a purpose. That pot of gold at the end of the rainbow will always be out of reach. This society that creates blind individuals to their true selves and instead creates their egotistical counterpart remains crippled. If our social structure allowed for the lowering of inhibitions and induced the confidence that comes from experience, we would have a population of humans on this world that fully loved what they did and cared for each other as people and not as means to an end.

Comments   

 
0 # Daniel Gomezzzzzzzzz 2014-02-20 03:02
The communist spirit. Excellent execution of the more specific contradictions one may face under modern "democratic" capitalist society. The end goal serves no purpose, looking around my college campus I hear a multitude of conversations based solely within the perameters of the system we live in. The system where in order to survive you must topple over and crush other sections of people in devastating ways. The business major, the engineer, when asked why they are doing what they are doing it is simply "because it pays a lot". Though their statements are true, the purpose and the big picture behind these paths lack the true interests lying within that person, as well as the interests of humanity.
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0 # David 2014-02-20 17:46
I wouldn't go so far as to say that the only reason people follow that line of work is the money. There are absolutely people who have a passion for leadership and design. What I am saying though is that the underlying motive of money to take that position is incorrect. Basing your vocation by the salary it pays is ridiculous. Those who do will then live their life in a time of work then leisure and trap themselves trying to find a way to compensate for the half of their day they despise. Which in capitalism means buying goods, going on vacations, and drinking in front of a TV. Not a bad life. But very short-term in their thinking.
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0 # Rod24 2014-02-22 22:24
I agree with you Daniel, many people are not interested in taking upon a career that benefits their interest. I think for the most of us, at least in this generation, we aim toward a career that is going to make us good money. It is not really about the passion anymore, its about the money. They cant blame the youth though, that is what this nation is raising. Money hungry kids. I also agree there are many actions that this nation exerts that doesn't even apply to living in a "democracy". We will continue to live in a capitalistic society until we finally rise as a nation. Before that happens, we must concentrate on unveiling the truth to the greater society.
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0 # Crystal 2014-02-23 12:24
I agree with the"Rod24". It is not about if your happy with what you do on a daily basis at work. The question many people have in mind today in society when looking for jobs is, "What is going to pay well, offer me benefits so that I can take care of my family." I can relate to this because growing up I always saw my parents coming home from work exhausted. When I asked them, "How was your day today at work?" They would just look at me and say, "horrible." People do not care what the job tasks consists of. All they care about is the money so that they can "survive" and "make it" in society today to live a decent life. What happens if one goes out for a job that they completely love but can not pay for food on the table. Of course people are going to go look for another job weather they like it or not just so that they can afford food on the table for their families.
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0 # Dennis Loo 2014-02-23 15:15
There is a relationship between the "horrible" job conditions that most people face and the insufficiency of pay and benefits. People will put up with the bad job conditions not because they are indifferent to that but because they feel they have no choice. Capitalism is responsible for both of these problems, not the job seekers themselves. I don't think it was Rod24's point that people don't care about the nature of their work. It's that capitalism denies most people both decent conditions of work AND sufficiency of pay.
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0 # Cal2009 2014-02-23 01:56
I agree Daniel, to an extent. Yes there is an overwhelming number of people that do choose a certain career merely for the sake of the high salary or benefits that are tied to that particular field. That being said, there is still a number of individuals that are lucky enough to have their passion also pay well. A number of my friends, myself included, are fortunate enough to have passions in high paying career fields. However, at the same time, in order to carve out a place for ourselves in these high paying jobs, there is a high price to be paid for the education and certifications that are required. Take, for example, doctors. Even if that is someone's passion, by the time they have finished their education, most of them have hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt. Therefore, for a number of years, that high salary is going to be dedicated primarily to paying off the debt accrued.
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0 # sintricity08 2014-02-20 04:30
I agree with what Daniel is saying here, we as people are inherently social beings and we seek human connections no matter how small they come out to be. Capitalism has crumbled our true foundations, our true potential, to become helpful to each other. Slowly destroying the planet and making it harder for future generations to live is not the path human kind should be taking. We should be more considerate of our actions because we can only benefit from it, and not in the capitalist sense of currency but in the social sense of community.
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0 # sickmacias89 2014-02-20 04:34
You make a great point in my understanding that these days many people simply want to follow the capitalist spirit and not because they have a passion in doing what makes them happy. Capitalism oppresses our idea that we should do what is good in the long run for ourselves and humanity, instead tells us we need to be the best and be on top.
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0 # AP158 2014-02-20 16:49
This article makes a great point, often times college students go for majors that they will end up paying high salaries. We no longer follow the purpose in life that we feel we were born to do. Money is a much more important aspect in our lives than ever before. If a person does not have money or power then the person looses in our society. Moncrief makes the statement that we no longer know how to work together and I agree. If we knew how to work together we would have a much better society where everyone would have the same opportunities. We wouldn't have the ruling class, middle, lower or prison population like we do today. We would live in a eutopia where capitalism did not exist and the prison industrial system was demolished. It was very shocking to learn that out of all the population in the world only 2% work in agriculture. Agriculture is how we survive, yet it's the smallest career and controlled by very few capitalist companies.
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0 # Dennis Loo 2014-02-20 17:40
The 2% figure is within the US I think. Personally I don't believe in utopias. But there are systems and the logic of those systems determine overall the conditions that people live under. Capitalism's logic is quite simple: profit trumps everything else.
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0 # mv46 2014-02-20 23:56
To add on to AP58's comment, I believe that depending in the environment you grew up in your motivation to pursue education will vary. If you grew up in a lower class like the poor your motivation will most likely be money because that is what you see is the problem. Middle class mostly will be comfortable with their way of living so their motivation will mostly be what they like instead of money. In addition if you are raised by your parents telling you that you need to go a certain path or that you can only go so far in life it will affect you in that its what you will only seek. This ties to labeling theory in which somebody is labeled a deviant so they eventually identify with that and act on it. For example in the new jim crow on page 171 it states how a way to cope with a srigmatized identity is to embrace that identity one puts on you. This all ties to embracing the identity one puts on a person when a powerful influence says they can only go so far in life.
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0 # PDennis Loo 2014-02-22 05:07
In general those in the middle class have to struggle a lot to avoid falling into the working class. Those who come from poverty will sometimes make their lives all abt $ but b/c of their experiences many of them will be more aware of the ravages of class and more open than those from the middle class to radical and revolutionary alternatives. There is nothing automatic about this, however, as it depends upon struggle and leadership.
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0 # TiffyWiffy 2014-02-20 23:59
This article makes me wonder about how different our society would be if people felt free to pursue what they truly wanted, instead of the all mighty dollar bill. I've worked with some inmates at the NorCo CRC through Dr. Reese's prison education program. And after talking to some of the students, I realized that few of these men were stupid or uncivilized. In fact many of them were extremely well spoken and very creative. I had a student who's photo-realism skills were so developed that everything he drew looked like a photograph. But the fact is that they were still inmates. They committed a crime to be where they are today. Many of them told me that growing up, they felt that all they could do was take to the streets and underground markets. It was a game of survival. So now I wonder what it would've been like for these men if they were encouraged to pursue what they wanted, instead of being confined to simply surviving.
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0 # Crystal 2014-03-09 08:02
I agree with "TiffyWiffy" to a certain extent. Many people want to purse a career in something that they truly want but do not have the educational background and experience that they need. Many people today work for survival purposes and not about "just the money." If we lived in a perfect work people would pursue their career on something they enjoy doing while helping others while performing the job because of the annual salary.
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0 # KG7 2014-02-21 01:35
My father has often said to me, "You won't make millions being a Sociologist. Maybe u should minor in x,y,z". We have had many discussions about this and often the conversation ends w/me telling him to stick it where the sun doesn't shine as this is my passion.
Dr. Loo: my passion is to help women/children in 3rd world countries who are brutalized & left to die (fistula's), have acid thrown on them b/c they seek divorce, villages that don't have potable h2o, that lack something as basic as aspirin. It would b difficult for me to follow my passion/contrib ute financially in an attempt to right the injustices that women/child endure. It is my father's belief that capitalism makes u "wealthy" that I am able to follow my passion. How do u/I justify that?
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0 # Dennis Loo 2014-02-22 05:03
Justify it to your father? I'd begin w/ this: you need to justify it to yourself and not be too concerned abt your father seeing the light as his outlook is very bourgeois and he's going to have trouble w/ your decisions b/c you're coming fr a different value set. How does making money or even, should you get lucky and make a lot of $, compare to the passion you have to address the issues you list? In the end you will have just made $ and not made the world better. What life is that?
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0 # KG7 2014-02-22 18:17
Fortunately, I'm @ the point in my life that I don't have to justify myself to my father (those days r long gone). U r 100% correct that my father has very bourgeois values and as a by product I will inherit his wealth. I realize that humanitarian work (my passion) will not make millions & if I were cut from the same cloth as my father I wouldn't be pursuing my dreams/passions . For me, it's not about $. Yet, it is b/c of his bourgeois vales that I will be able to pursue my passions for a considerable amount of time (If u want to make a difference, one week in the Congo will not suffice). To be candid, I will take the $ to help aid those that don't have a voice. Maybe I am but a small % that will use their personal finances to touch the lives of many who r rotting away in their little corner of the world. For those that r interested read: Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity 4 Women Worldwide. It changed my life
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0 # Bland 2014-02-23 04:12
I find your desire to pursue your passion rather than the mighty dollar inspiring. I believe that If we all found a way to make a living while pursuing our passion we would live in a much happier, healthier and more compassionate world. I do not know your father or his values but I know as a parent I want my girls to follow there passions but I do worry a out them not earning enough to survive. Life is expensive and passion does not pay the bills however, I have remain optimistic that passion and faith will provide them with life's essentials needed to survive. I too, am pursuing my passion to help the under privileged children and abused women. I wish you the best of luck.
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0 # KG7 2014-02-23 18:22
Bland: Thank you. I know that I am fortunate to have financial stability and because of it, I am able to press full steam ahead w/my desire to help those that can't help themselves. Being a parent myself I also encourage my daughter to follow her dreams/passions . Without them, we are just an empty shell putting one foot in front of the other. While my ambitions are mammoth in terms of the country I seek to do humanitarian work, small scale/local efforts are just as important/honor able. If the cause is worthy such as we are suggesting, efforts will snowball touching many individual lives. Wishing you the best of luck in your future endeavors.
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0 # Ch 2782 2014-02-21 23:42
I agree with Ap158, everything revolves around money. Individuals are more focused getting into job positions with high salary that they forget to work together in groups. They prefer to work independently in their desk, instead of interacting and socializing with others. People care more about money and power, no matter what the consequences of their actions may be. Individuals are more interested in obtaining money and power that they commit illegal acts to obtain profit,just like white-collar crime. White-collar crime is corporations who already receive enough money from their products and goods, but they still do illegal activities to maximize profit. Even if corporations already have enough money to be in business, they still want more. Corporations carry out illegal behavior causing harm towards their employees and the environment. Corporations’ lack of caring for the environment has resulted in the severity of toxic waste, and pollution.
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0 # screamingrelaxesme 2014-02-22 04:04
I feel the statement made of “We fit where we are made to fit” is very true. That due to social classes, race and gender we have been labeled to fit within a certain group. This is not to say that you aren’t able to succeed if you’re within a certain group (especially a minority group) but that the odds may be against you. Quoting Alexander in The New Jim Crow “Contrary to the rosy picture of race embodied in Barack Obama's political success and Oprah Winfrey's financial success, we have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it.”
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0 # screamingrelaxesme 2014-02-22 19:06
I would also go on to say that I don't believe children grow up asking themselves what is the most economically profitable job; I think this slowly becomes a reality when the society that surrounds them isn’t so much interested in the welfare of others but in dollar signs. The thoughts of the future are set aside because we are so much consumed in the now, that as long as we make it through the day we'll worry about tomorrow when tomorrow comes; and in carrying that mentality we lose a sense of what our ultimate goal is. The sense of purpose is gone, that happiness could be measured in dollars. An example of this is through society and our exploitation of the environment. Now my question would be this, living in a capitalist country whose main goal is to make profit by all means and through this we seem to be losing a sense of purpose; Continued...
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0 # screamingrelaxesme 2014-02-22 19:07
I ask myself if suicide rates will increase or have been increased? Quoting Durkheim in Suicide: A study in Sociology “No living being can be happy or even exist unless his needs are sufficiently proportioned to his means”; if our needs aren’t able to be met through these jobs that are being created and the ones that are being offered, does this increase suicide among our society?
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0 # PDennis Loo 2014-02-22 19:10
21 US vets commit suicide every day. This is an enormous figure and it's been elevated since the Afghan and Iraq invasions. It's not hardly talked about. The war on terror's reality is something that soldiers experience firsthand.
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0 # KLR 2014-02-22 21:10
I really enjoy how all of the articles on socialism keep tying together. It is really eye opening when you see how our society is structured. I long for a simpler time where we work for ourselves. When I read that only 2% of the jobs are for producing food the rest of the 98%, I found that shocking. It is just unfortunate that money is mostly the driving force behind people working anymore. The more you have the better off you are just seems sad to me. I feel that, as a society, we are losing the real meaning of self accomplishment in relation to work.
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0 # KLR 2014-02-22 21:16
AP158: Not only do we need Agriculture to survive, but we, as a society, need to have some sense of real worth to keep us happier with our places in life. I just don't see how our current social structure is going to continue on. There is going to be some kind of breaking point between the super rich and the super poor. This isn't going to end well for everyone.
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0 # Rod24 2014-02-22 22:17
I agree that the capitalistic society in which we live makes it hard to find a purpose to our lives. We rather concentrate on the ways in which we can fit in and be like everyone else, we don't like to be unique anymore. As long as there are classes it will be hard for youth to feel like they can become something other then meshing with the crowd. Because there is a class structure it makes it easier for minorities to engage in self fulfilling prophecies where they automatically become what society says they will become. I don't believe there is such a thing as a democracy within capitalism because they are so contradictory in meaning. The U.S. will continue to work in capitalistic ways until there are no more classes in existence.
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0 # GA23 2014-02-22 23:33
Well this article really made me think about how much money has taken over our society. The "American Dream" is what everyone is searching for especially those who come from different countries. The truth is you cannot have that dream without money. We work for money to have what we want and we keep on working to pay those things. It is a never ending cycle. It would be amazing to see what people would do with their lives if the incentive was not money. I believe our world would be a totally different place. I actually watched a documentary called "Happy" directed by Roko Belic and they talked about how when asked what people wanted they said happiness and in order to achieve that they needed copious amounts of money. People in Japan were working themselves to death that they even came up with a word for it which was "karōshi." It is so sad that for wealth people are losing their lives.
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0 # Cal2009 2014-02-23 01:49
This article hits on a core issue in our society. We, as a society, have become so involved in consumerism that many people believe that it is a requirement to have a high paying career in order to be happy. While I don't feel that money is required for happiness, and it certainly isn't everything in life, having a moderate paying salary does make your life easier by not having to worry about bills or anything of the sort. Parents want to be able to give their children the best and more than what they had growing up, and that drives them to seek careers with higher paying jobs, or strive to receive more and more promotions in their chosen fields. Consumerism and pushed society as a whole more and more towards this notion of "money means happiness", and it will continue to do so unless there is a drastic shift in the way society thinks.
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0 # Dennis Loo 2014-02-23 15:26
You want to distinguish here between "We, as a society" and the different groups within society and their differing levels of power. Capitalism didn't come into being and doesn't persist because of consumerism and because the general public mistakenly puts money before other values. Capitalism dictates that money is the be all and end all. It's a system and those empowered by the system, the capitalist class, set the terms. The solution isn't for the public to stop being into money per se. The solution is to change the system.
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