Saturday, April 16, 2005

Finding Cultural Value in Modern America

America can seem like a pretty shallow place, and in a lot of ways it is. However, I think that if properly oriented there is much value to be found.

On the surface you see Capitalism and Consumerism have run rampant, infecting the lives of all americans. When was the last time you had a meal that wasn't sealed in plastic first? (counting restaurants?, then you haven't worked in one) One might think that's an arbitrary thing to complain about. Who says wrapping food in plastic is bad? Well it's good if you need to stockpile, and it's convenient. There are many more drawbacks though. If you freeze food it looses much of it's nutritional value. Anything coming from a corporation has been altered and augmented either chemically or genetically for higher production and sales (not health)

Take a look at the american people *cringe* what does one see? I see well meaning people who are really fucked in the head, to make a broad generalization. We are so cramped for time and personal space that most of us are on the verge of snapping (or maybe that's just me) We are bombarded with stimuli whether it be radio commercials, billboards, tv commercials, movie commercials (my personal favorite, I stopped watching tv because of the damned things, do I have to stop going to the movies too?) Internet commercials or just plain ole commercials... how about those jingles you get stuck in your head? "my bologna has a first name it's S-A-T-A-N"

Most americans are overweight, a lot of them have high blood pressure, and alchoholism is worse here than anywhere else. It seems like more people in america are on anti-depressants than are not. A lot of people, especially gen x and beyond, come from broken families. Which I guess stems from our lack of personal commitment and values, not to mention how much sex is sold here. Why look at my wife, who by the way has put on a few pounds, when I can look at Jennifer Lopez? (everyone wants a slut (just to lay my opinion of "j-lo" on the table))

Ok, enough america bashing, let's get to the positive stuff. Obviously there is a reason things are like this, and there's a solution (if we're willing to find it) The primary reason would be that modern culture is still in shock over the worldcentric shift in values. Now that we have so much we're exposed to, so much information, so many paradigms, so many distractions, where does one orient themselves? Within what context? That seems negative, but perhaps a more accurate assessment of that fact would be twofold: it's a challenge for us to develop as individuals, and it gives us a tabula rasa.

While americans have plenty of their own trappings, most of them are shallow enough to be easily shed given some determination. What better way to reorient oneself within a new worldview than by having no other option? One who doesn't have the benefit of a solid foundation laid down by their culture. Is it coincidence that Ken Wilber, one of the first to identify our need for integration and reevaluation, is an american?

The other main thing americans have going for them in the integration race is our common diversity, our extreme multiplicity. We ARE the melting pot... we don't just have to come to terms with it, we have to BE it. Also because of this diversity along with our priveledged status and ease of lifestyle there has been a great expansion of possible relationships and associations, along with possible interests and values. Basically we have everything at our fingertips, all the possibility in the world. I spoke in my last post about infinite diversity and infinite possibilities being the goal of evolution/spirit. That's us.

So to conclude I would say that while we have a rough time ahead of us, we're well equipped to handle it (if we so choose) In my previous years i've felt very alienated from the american people, like I don't belong here... then I realized for that exact reason I do belong :) We may be a disfunctional family, with an abusive father even, but we still need to love each other just the same. Love heals all wounds, I say.

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