Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Capitalism is our New Religion

As it is Christmas season, I decided to wonder what Jesus would have made of today’s celebration of his birthday. What would he make of today’s consumer-driven society, where the acquisition and consumption of material goods is celebrated more so than the ideologies that Christmas was founded on?

I for one think he would be pretty disgusted and sorrowful at the way we accumulate possessions to measure our wealth and well-being. If we in the Western world are nations built on the foundations of Christianity, then the teachings of Jesus should be fundamental in the way we conduct our lives. Something has gone fundamentally wrong with our values and culture when we are blindsided by our greed and fail to notice our brothers and sisters of humanity are languishing in poverty, often in our same neighbourhoods. These numbers are staggering in their abhorrence. According to the UN’s Human Development Report, some 3 billion worldwide live below the poverty line and in 80% of countries the gap between the rich and poor is widening further. This means the problem, on the current trajectory, is only going to get worse.

Sure, you might say, they’re poor because they deserve it because they are lazy or that’s the hand they’ve been dealt and that’s just the way things are. It’s not our concern, it’s the government’s responsibility or charities to help these people. Nothing to do with us. There’s nothing we can do. But is that really the society we want to be a part of? A cold-hearted, cynical society where looking out for yourself and your family is the only concern at the detriment of others? Of course, we think this is right. It’s about survival of the fittest anyway. Or so we are led to believe. Have you ever felt that these values and ideologies are somewhat off-kilter with what you think should be right? I know I have.

Shadowy men with shadowy agendas conducting themselves in the shadows. Secret pacts and secret handshakes, deceitful whispers in the dark. Hate-filled men. Jealous, greedy, clutching their bony, lecherous hands at the strings, maneuvering their destructive will. We have been fooled by these people. People with power.  People that control our lives, dominate our existence. Shackle us, when we were meant to be free. All the pain, all the suffering in the world because we have chosen the wrong path, chosen the wrong values to reward and aspire to and ultimately chosen the wrong people to follow and revere.

We have instead blindly adopted Capitalism as our new religion. The all-consuming, wealth-aspiring, tried-and-tested and rigorously accepted model that we have grown up in, has become the new Bible. It is the holy book of the banker, the holy scripture of the business elite, the regressive and enslaving dogma of the corrupted politician. The profits have become our new prophets, leading us to capitalist heaven, where the titans of the elite reign over the masses and we worship them like Gods.

It is not our natural human behaviour to be so callous and greedy. Children have an innate desire to share, not to take more and more and more. This is something we are taught to believe. It is the capitalist system that these beliefs are fundamentally built upon and are interwoven within its structural framework. So this societal blueprint, which is rigidly perceived as the best, is our only way of living, right? Well, no. It is through indoctrination of the young and misinformation from the powers that be to keep us locked into their vicious and destructive game, for one purpose: to empower themselves and exploit the rest. To quote Benjamin Disraeli, “Power has only one duty - to secure the social welfare of the people.” Any form of power should be scrutinised and justified on its merit pertaining to that rule. If it contravenes that rule, it should be simply discarded.

When John Lennon imagined a world without war and famine and universally orientated toward peace was it wishful pie-in-the-sky thinking? Look at what mankind has achieved in the past 100 years. Flying the skies, flying through space, landing on the moon, reaching the deepest depths of our oceans. Do you really think we couldn’t stop poverty and wars if we wanted to?  It is our actions and beliefs what create our own reality, be that individually or collectively. That is the good news. We all have the power to alter our reality into one that is a force for good, fairness and unity with fellow man, not one that is concerned with personal fulfillment and success at any cost.

All is not lost. Nothing is written in stone. We can change the path. We can choose a different way.

"We create our fate every day we live". - Henry Miller

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