The Price
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The Price

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Value is subjective based upon individual choice and preference. What we call civilization is based upon a generally agreed-upon value of goods and services. For example, we all agree gold has value though despite having an excellent conductivity in electrical applications, the real value is subjective. We agree it’s a precious metal because it has good aesthetic properties, and traditionally it was highly sought after by our more primitive predecessors. Metals such as silver and copper provide greater conductivity than gold and can be had at considerably less cost, but gold has been the standard by which we have judged the value of tangible objects for hundreds of years. Its actual value stems from the greed of those who first discovered it and were able to horde substantial quantities to sustain those individuals at a higher level of existence and subsistence than their fellow men and women.
This illusion of value remains perpetuated by our need to be part of a tribe, a herd instinct passed down from our almost animal-like ancestors that fought each day of their lives to survive. What do we get when we become a member of this tribe? We get a life adorned with a veneer of security and semblance of order and balance. Additionally, we become tools of an elite bent upon maintaining a monopoly of resources and economic advantage. Whether we know it or not, we conform to a set of guidelines we believe in our best interests. We sell the parts of ourselves that make us unique and vibrant individuals to become slaves to an idea. This idea we adopt as our own and perpetuate virtual slavery that seems destined to entangle generations to come.
This, however, isn’t an indictment of the so-called elite of our society but an indictment of everyone reading this. We cry for greater moral responsibility amongst ourselves and continually conform, deleting parts of ourselves we fear others may deem unfit so that we may become part of the social chaos that we call tribes. We censor our hearts and dull our heads for acceptance. We take our very souls’ and deem them unfit, blindly led by the crowd. We stigmatize individuality and demand conformity to a vision constructed by people we will never meet for a piece of a pie we shall never eat. For life, we will never live because we have given up control to whims of societal norms that are anything but normal or practical.
We have become soulless minions of the prevailing winds of whatever is trendy and have forgotten to consider our thoughts and desires. We have such a ravenous hunger for acceptance that we are willing to devour our souls to be part of the crowd. If we must discard parts of ourselves for approval, then that price is far too high. Nothing on earth is more valuable than the autonomy of the self. It would be far better to die a thousand deaths than to live a thousand years lying to ourselves and those around us. If we must sacrifice all we are for acceptance, the acceptance we imagine we have attained is merely rejection dressed in new clothes. It is not just rejection by society but a rejection of ourselves that creates within us a desperate feeling of worthlessness propelling us onward towards more hollow pursuits in hopes of filling the crater we have created within the depths of our hearts. So instead of repairing the damage, we widen the chasm within, an implosion that consumes the last vestiges of who we once were.
The reasons we gravitate towards tribalism and groupthink are absurd and completely disconnected from reality. Although, like wild animals, we seek the safety and comfort of a group, this illusion of safety is essentially a placebo because the most significant dangers we face are the aspirations and actions of other people. Safety itself is a fabrication because our existence is finite, and nothing can divert death from taking us when our time arrives. We sacrifice ourselves for that which is wholly unattainable. We are meant to be more than cruel unthinking animals, yet we conduct ourselves as base creatures, destroying any chance for real happiness that comes from the ability to think and act for oneself.
We marginalize those that are different and fail to fit a model that is acceptable to the masses. We condone the destruction of people’s lives that don’t meet the lofty standards set by the prevailing theories imagined by people who rarely interact with the lower classes and thus have no understanding of the unique challenges those lower on the hierarchical food chain face. Life provides challenges to every participant. Generally, people don’t wish to be controlled by nameless and faceless people they will never meet—the ruling elite wishes to rule over the rest of us because they fear being led by others. The ruled only desire not to be ruled. This paradigm can only shift once we are no longer satisfied with just not being controlled but when we decide it’s time to take a measure of control of our own lives and not be dictated to by strangers. Whenever anyone tells you something is in your best interest, you can be sure it isn’t and that the opposite is true.
Morality in its structured forms, such as government institutions and religious power bases, has always had control on a mass scale as its core goal. So organized institutions have always been corrupt because man is insecure and suspicious of the unknown and new structure and different societal formats. Since almost every human seeks advantage over their fellow humans, all institutions become corrupt as society begins to lose faith in their fellow man as the veneer of true morality and justice begins to fall away. Morality and justice are artifices with no substance because for morality and justice to prevail, men and women would have to be unbiased and not seek advantage. Sadly, most of us strive to profit ourselves at the expense of others and feel we must win no matter the cost. Thus, once the storybook ideas of morality, justice, and the impartial implementation of these ideas are laid bare as the fiction that they are, society begins to plummet, inevitably hitting bottom only to be reborn and start the cycle once again. Despite our claims to moral and spiritual evolution, we have mainly remained the selfish, brutal, and insecure creatures we’ve always been. Survival has been dependent on selling fabrications to humanity and having their faith last long enough to procreate. Despite advances in technology and the extension of lifespans, we have remained much as we were. It is just now easier to spread misinformation, which helps blind people for longer, which has helped sustain population growth. I don’t see our nature as ever-changing we are too imperfect. I can only hope that once we can colonize other worlds, like-minded individuals who genuinely seek harmonious existence can cohabitate together. Only then do we have a chance at building a better society, and that hope is still very slim considering the history of humankind.
In closing, what seems a message of doom is, in fact, a message of hope. Some of us see humanity not as we wish but as it is, and as long as we exist, there is hope for tomorrow. We may indeed build a better world, perhaps on another planet, but even though this particular cycle may end, it will begin again, and we can strive for true morality and justice. Concepts shouldn’t have to depend on eternal damnation for people to consider great ideas and ethical ways to live. If we haven’t evolved past the point of threatening people with never-ending torture to comport themselves with honor, then we haven’t evolved at all. We are nothing more than thugs with no fundamental values.

About Post Author

James Borden

I'm a veteran of the U.S Army, with one deployment to Afghanistan. I will not pull punches in my articles and what you see is what you get.
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