I read this the other day:
Our entire society’s based on discontent: people wanting more and more and more, being constantly dissatisfied with their homes, their bodies, their décor, their clothes, everything. Taking it for granted that that’s the whole point of life, never to be satisfied. If you’re perfectly happy with what you’ve got – specially if what you’ve got isn’t even all that spectacular – then you’re dangerous. You’re breaking all the rules, you’re undermining the sacred economy, you’re challenging every assumption that society’s built on…..Throughout history – even a hundred years ago, even fifty – it was discontent that was considered the threat to society, the defiance of natural law, the danger that had to be exterminated at all costs. Now it’s contentment. What a strange reversal.
Now I can’t stop thinking about it.
Is it true, I keep wondering? Certainly, our society is discontent-driven, that much is indisputable. But is it true that we view people as ‘dangerous” who don’t buy into that discontent?
Well, I was quite surprised, a couple of months ago, when I wrote the post on Freegans, how many people were really angry at people who have chosen to opt out of consumerism. But is it true that we consider perfectly content people as dangerous?
And, has society really had such a complete reversal of attitudes in such a short time? And how did this happen?
“Knowing your place” and “not getting ideas above your station” and “being content with your lot in life” were common expressions not too long ago.
So, I’m thinking people in general, then or now, aren’t content. Because if you have nothing to strive for, no hopes, desires, wishes – what are you living for?
What has changed however, I think, is the societal pressure to not be satisfied with any part of yourself, your work, your home, your finances, and your relationships – to always be looking for a fix, a change, for something new and better and bigger.
And how did that happen? (Can we blame Oprah?)