Let’s Replace the Code of Ignorance With a Love Revolution.
Posted on March 12, 2011
If you happen to be a part of the ones of tens of people who regularly read my blog, then you will have noticed that tomorrow will mark precisely three months since I last posted an article. I wish that this was not the case, but unfortunately it is, and like many things in life one will just have to ‘roll’ with it. Unfortunately over the past three months I have not been well, and have had a tremendous amount of weight on my shoulders for a number of reasons which I hope to one day be able to write about. Things have been ‘eventful’ to say the least. Whilst many things in my life have been put on hold, I have at least had the ability to reflect on past experiences and build on profound senses and feelings which have been born as a result of real hardships. This has also instilled in me a deep and insightful perspective of the world, without which I would not have the ability to think, act, and feel as I do.
Consequently, there are many instances in life where I am absolutely astounded by the lack of people’s ability to behave in any way which resembles human. I am constantly reminded of how disillusioned my generation is. The belief that success in life is based on money and possessions, power and qualification. There is a worryingly fervent belief that the way in which one’s success can be measured is to see what proportion of one’s A-Levels, or Highers, are A’s as opposed to C’s or D’s. Also, there is a huge misconception that the key to happiness in life is a mirror image of that of the keys to a large house, and a nice luxury ‘executive’ German saloon.
But who can blame them?
The education system symbolises all that I have just said, with ‘attainment’ and ‘qualification’ among the key values of modern education, where pupils are encouraged not to explore the endless capabilities and wonders which knowledge and education has to offer – and consequently all the good the application of specific knowledge can do in the world – but rather how minimal knowledge can be tied into extensive ‘exam technique’ to craftily attain one an A in an exam. Thus churning out a generation of people – the future - who have really no understanding of the subjects they have been ‘taught’, rather the ability to pass an exam which does not test knowledge, but the ability to answer questions correctly. That, and that grades and academic success are the most important aspects of life known to man. Ergo, masses of people don’t even have the ability to fathom as to the real importances and priorities in life, as all they have been taught is that the measure of success can be expressed as easily as words and numbers on paper.
This leaves a very tricky situation.
The world is abundant with human suffering, in fact a Psychologist I know once described suffering as the “one aspect of life which ties everyone together” and humanity’s “ultimate common trait”. And it is true. One only has to look at any random corner of the world to find a tremendous amount of pain and anguish, most recently and notably, the natural atrocities in Japan. The Japanese people are going through something beyond that which anyone but them can begin to appreciate. We can sympathise, pray, and hope, but beyond that offer nothing but our hands of friendship, love, and support. Whilst I acknowledge that the Japanese circumstances are totally unique right now, the concept of human suffering in vast quantity isn’t. Only a short while ago Christchurch in New Zealand was struck with a fatal earthquake, which claimed lives and shook the nation as much emotionally as it did physically. Hurricane Katrina of 2005 reminded the world’s most powerful nation that true power lies not in money and armament, but in nature. Claiming the lives of nearly 2000 people and costing $90billion worth of damages, it also brought a nation of over 300 million people to a standstill, frozen in pain and shock. These are three examples of nature’s ability to bring whole nations to a common grief, but are rare and extraordinary, and so not truly representative of common pain and suffering.
The suffering which is far more acute – but hardly recognised in any form whatsoever – is personal suffering… Personal adversity, worry, unhappiness and melancholy. The populations of the world over have a growing pandemic, the denial that there is a pandemic. An unhappiness pandemic.
Unhappiness is a vast spectrum on which most people will sit at one point or another. My family has experienced an immense amount of distress and unhappiness over the past few years. My Dad died in 2008 when I was just 13. In the years prior to that we dealt with his emotional problems and consequent alcohol abuse, and all which that encompassed. Then there was his death, and the manner in which he died. Since then things have continued to be hard, with various difficulties both chronic and acute arising. I don’t intend this article to be focused on this theme at all, but these experiences have had a profound effect on me in many ways. I will one day post in more detail about this, but not until I can write in retrospect, and do it the literary justice it deserves. Other people may experience bouts of unhappiness due to stress at work, or deep grief following the death of a loved one. Some may develop prolonged clinical depression, which could have a deep subconscious root. There will be people who go beyond unhappiness and develop manic depression. There are those who are subjected to the affects of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Whether that be a soldier returning home from War, or a child whose parent commits suicide. The point is that general unhappiness is a vast umbrella, under which many different manifestations of upset can present. Up to 1 in 4 people will experience a ‘mental health illness’ at some point in their life, which includes depression. However, I would think that most people will experience some form of profound unhappiness at some point before they die.
However – and tying this in with my original point – out of such adversities is born, like in my case, a very powerful change in perception of the world and all of what people are apart. When in life one loses that which is so dear to us, our loved ones, a new sense of self is established. Before my Father died, I was driven by monetary and power based ‘success’. I wanted the big house. I wanted the A8 (a small part of me still wants an A8 I hasten to add, but only because it is a beautiful car). I wanted power. I wanted money. I was driven to get the best possible grades, and to get the best University degree. I was driven, like that of many of my peers. However, I was driven for the wrong reasons. Money based lust. Then, Dad got ill, and died. My world was violently shaken. Since then I now realise something very important, and something which I hope to convey now to anyone who does not realise….
Money, power, grades, qualification, possessions and materialism – these all mean nothing. I cannot emphasise this enough. To live for these things would provide nothing but unhappiness, as you would be measuring your success in life on a spectrum which will openly enable someone else to trump you. All. The. Time.
As the late Randy Pausch said, ‘follow your passion, follow your heart, and do the things you are excited about’. Measure your success on how the people who you respect most highly respect you. Measure your happiness on how you feel on the inside. Think about the good you can do in the world, and the happiness you can bring to people’s lives. Help others achieve their dreams, and in doing so reap the benefits of true accomplishment. Contrary to what we are taught at school, when the Grim Reaper comes knocking at your door all the money and accumulative wealth and qualification you have achieved will not matter. What will matter will be the faces of those who surround you when you are lying on your deathbed waiting to ‘cash in your chips’. To know that you lived your passion, to know that you followed your heart, to know that you were the best person a person could be to those who mattered most to you, those will be the real points by which your life success can, and will, be measured.
To live, love, and laugh. To be kind, compassionate, empathetic, and loving to all those whom you meet. To never dedicate your life to anything other than what is right and just, and to not ever give up on your dreams or passions in the face of adversity. This is what life is about.
Lets break this code of ignorance to what life is all about. We should all be opening our eyes to the wonders of the world, to the beauty in art and expression. We should encourage all the good humanity has to offer to flourish and blossom in the sun of happiness and create a better world.
As Patch Adams advised me to do in a letter he sent me last year, I will be dedicating my life to the passion of making the world a more loving place. That way I will be guaranteed to do good in the world, and in a selfish way it will bring me nothing but happiness, as no matter where I live, or how much money I have, my success will be measured by what I do, how I feel, with whom I am, with whom I am helping, and, most importantly, with the people’s whose happiness is more important than my own.
I hereby dedicate my life to making the world a more loving place, and in doing so do solemnly declare that my door will be open to anyone, anywhere, anytime, for whatever reason to access that to which every human is entitled.