By Linda West
Whoever we are, whatever we do, we are more than just a piece of ourselves. We cannot cut off an arm and expect it to work on its own. That’s a ridiculous analogy, but, in fact, the idea is similar to the act of separating our spiritual self and political self from our psychological self. While some may disagree, I have a difficult time seeing it any other way. These three elements are linked, for your psychological and your spiritual natures closely interact with each other, and if our political ideals aren’t governed by our spiritual natures we will be going against our consciences. We must be in alignment with ourselves to be healthy, happy, and to create a compassionate world.â?¨â?¨
During the 1950s if not before (see the documentary The Century of the Self), the United States designed what the idea of success ought to be for the masses (that’s us, you and me … we are “the masses”). It was done deliberately, and it was done well.
What Is Real Success?
Some tricky words get tossed around in everyday life; “love” and “responsibility” are two, and another is the word “success.” Depending on whom you ask, the definitions of this word will vary. Typical answers combine levels of lucrative achievement, acquisition of various possessions, and perhaps some degree of notoriety. The contrived American picture of success usually includes, of course, the white picket fence, house, car, and a white-collar job.â?¨â?¨
Some artificial values include comparison between possessions and levels of employment. It is painful to feel ridiculed or left out because one’s levels of “success” are different from those of others. Such comparisons cause personal psychological distress. In stressful states we are more vulnerable, more easily manipulated to think what others want us to think. Comparing, competing, and living up to the Joneses wastes our time—the only real commodity anyone really has on this Earth.
The idea of “success” wastes our time in many ways. It is often assumed that success includes buying a home. Owning a home ensures we pay taxes and spend money on upkeep. Owning a home often means we must work very hard, often at a job that benefits those at the top and abuses those below. At any time, at any moment, that house can be taken from us in a number of different ways. We spend our only commodity (time) for something that is not really ours, and yet we are encouraged to view this situation as success. This typical dichotomy is ripe for creating illness on many levels and in many ways.â?¨â?¨
What Is Normal?
It appears that the powers that be have used our natural human attributes against us. We have been acculturated to what societal norms ought to be. The schema does not fit our natural way of being in the world. We are not living in the social or physical world that Mother Nature intended us to, and this is not a health-producing situation.
To my mind, no being is more valuable than another; the garbage worker is just as successful as the doctor. They deserve the same levels of materials and trappings, certainly the same health care, shelter, and healthy food! (Some years back we learned just how important garbage workers are. In 1981 New York garbage workers went on strike for 17 days … and they won. No one could stand it any longer. Imagine … it was not a pretty picture and certainly panicked the health department.)
Garbage workers are very important! Are they more important or successful than doctors? Humans are born with a survival need to compare situations, but it is essential to move away from comparing people to one another. This comparison to others is one of the causes of human pain and misery, which manipulates us into compliance. We have been encouraged to take this natural survival trait to such an extreme that it is disruptive to life.
Are We Ever Really Secure?
The idea of “security” seems to go hand-in-hand with the idea of “success.” Truth says that we are never really secure. Most cultures include this knowledge in their natural order of systematic beliefs. Our society, on the other hand, encourages a constant search for security, as if it were truly obtainable. A natural human desire for self-protection has been exaggerated and used to keep us producing more and more stuff, not to benefit us but to benefit those who oppress us and consider us “the masses.”
Few have escaped the pain generated from these ideas of today’s designed-for-us society. A glaring example is that of body image. Younger and younger females and even males suffer simply because they can’t make their bodies match the picture of the “ideal.” This societal creation is obvious, but more subtle creations may cause the greatest distress to our societies and even to our Earth.â?¨
Subtle ideas that one occupation or one car or one style has more value than another keep us struggling to achieve or to become something that is not authentic. It keeps us working harder and harder until we are running in circles to keep up our fronts and our false necessities. This behavior does not lead to happiness or peace, but it does help us become better workers for our government.
On our passage to the other side, our beliefs, values, and loved ones are what will be on our minds. We will not give a thought to the house, the clothes, the car, or whatever. Having attended some of these passages I can honestly say I’ve never heard anyone lament that he or she didn’t buy a big enough house or fancy enough car. Why, then, should we consider these to be successes now, when in the end they will only be distractions created for us by forces foreign to our souls?
Authentic success and any measure of security necessitates knowing who we really are, minus the societal trappings and comparisons among us. The ability to trust that we are living our own system of values equals true success.
To Contact Linda West, email firstname.lastname@example.org