the idea of striking seems to have caught on, as even the usually deflated McDonald’s workers have rallied themselves a pride to shout with.
they’re complaining about the following:
“part-time work, contingent work, the inability to have control over one’s schedule … essentially no protections, and even where there’s existing protections, they’re not enforced … They don’t even approach living wage jobs,” and for most workers, “there are absolutely no benefits.”
does this sound familiar? because it’s practically the reality for anyone without a college-born job.
and in particular, those of us a bit too young to experience what actual, professional work is like.
most of us read that paragraph and relate to it. then quietly we wonder, “well, my job is shit like this. why aren’t we striking?”
one of the greatest quotes to describe the culture behind American working life was said by John Steinbeck. pretty sure you’ve read it by now:
“…the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires.”
this mindset is cultivated from the very start of life in america (assuming you’re not already born into the upper class). it begins first with your struggling parents, who tell you of their origins. it’s reinforced later by teachers who were fortunate enough to live their dream of teaching but fail to tell you the financial slavery they’re deeply embedded in.
it’s later supplemented by the pop culture you idolize. shows, movies, and music of hard-working protagonists who struggle deeply until achieving whatever it is they desire. and they always achieve.
when you’re finally cognizant enough, the politicians will make sense to you. you will hear their fabricated tales of rags to riches, believe their immaculate speeches about hardships, and be moved by their thrilling conclusions. these conclusions are the same for either a party; work hard, be nice, achieve your dreams.
the cement has solidified and the pillars stabilized; you now believe you can become anything you want. you just have to work hard. you have to struggle.
that is always the condition, isn’t it. to struggle. that you can’t get what you want until you struggle.
this is where america fails.
the thing to ask is what exactly is “working hard”? what exactly is “struggle”? there’s a lot of things to struggle with. a lot of ways to “work hard”. “struggling” could be just remembering to wake up on time. “working hard” for some is as simple as completing the last paragraph of an essay for class. but these aren’t really the things that come to mind.
no, “struggle” and “working hard” usually conjures images of mind-numbing work, and soul-breaking atmospheres. to do things you don’t like with people who don’t respect you. for money that has no value to purchase things that don’t matter.
they tell us that “working hard” is what will make us succeed. but who exactly defines that? because if it remains that undefined, then aren’t we susceptible to doing anything? isn’t easy to make people do things they shouldn’t be doing in environments they shouldn’t be standing for if you just tell them “well, this is ‘working hard’”? that “we all have to ‘struggle’”?
america’s sacred clause is a very clever way to remove pride while pretending to instill it. to ask you to lose dignity while suggesting that you’re gaining it. do things you don’t want to. sacrifice precious time for common shit. compromise personal aspirations for a business you don’t own and never will.
it is easy to dismiss this with a simple #firstworldproblems. and it is. but i’d rather “struggle” on my own terms. “work hard” in the ways i choose to. the “first world” does not offer that.
The conclusion to the three-part essay.
Like anyone else, women are subconsciously aware of this situation. They can discern the dishonest reactions, and how people are reacting in false kindness to them. It’s appreciable to be treated kindly, but it becomes patronizing when it is a lie. Essentially, women are patronized throughout their entire lives.
As such, they seek out honest reactions to their behaviors; they are innately attracted to people who will blatantly acknowledge the times when they’re wrong, and only quietly celebrate when they’re right. If they do at all.
This is what we consider “douchebags”; they are effectively rebels of dishonesty, and refuse to cater to the deceitful standards of our society.
And women appreciate this, because they need it; living for years in a psychological panic room stunts they’re awareness about life, people, and themselves. After all, us humans have too little time to spend it being misguided.
Furthermore, the law also explains their idealistic philosophies. They’re more likely to be dreamers and optimistic. This is because their world is being viewed through their physically lovely prisms; when the world appears to be treating you with kindness, you will assume it contains only more kindness. And if you cannot discern the half-truths of it all, then you will be optimistic.
This is not to say that being pessimistic is the real option. But to say that being pretty will make you misappropriate the love the world has to offer. It has love, but not as much as you would be assuming.
This is where I most empathize with women, as they often spend their first 25 years operating on this ideal. I say 25, because somewhere around this point their physical beauty begins to wane; wrinkles seep in, the body slowly gains in weight, and your voice is not the high-pitched squeals of joy it used to be. Suddenly, you are not pretty, and the world begins to care less about you. And you don’t know why, or if you do, you will live in denial about it.
Unfortunately, few offer the absolution of reminding women that their beauty is temporary, and that they must craft other charms to maintain their social status. If they don’t, they will be shunned.
This is also why women scramble to be married, and, socially, you are stigmatized if you’re a single female at 30, whereas a man is allowed to be single during any age.
And, again, why they appreciate “douchebags”. It isn’t merely that they remind women how it is they’re flawed, they also challenge them to become something more than a walking perfume ad. They challenge them to survive in an emotional environment where their beauty is worthless. It makes women stronger for it.
Sadly, women (And most people, really) mistake excessive abuse as necessary honesty. So it isn’t always a positive.
But an honest person, at the right time, may be all a girl needs to save them from years of isolation and mental decay.
Thus, chicks are fucked up. They complain too often, express too much, and leave themselves psychologically stranded in the end.
And, like all flaws, it is not their fault.
It is the result of a society that insists on lying for the sake of kindness, while stunting psychological growth, and pretending everything’s fine all the while. And it’s in these times of bullshit where that “douchebaggery” is much appreciated.
You try not to impose. Perhaps not to come off rude. It’s difficult. Some part of you instinctively urges you to push in case of shove, likely because a parent or other authority failed their own patience. So your brain comes conditioned with the impression that to create change, you must persuade.
Well, certainly persuade. But not via action.
The Tao Te Ching, a book which expounds poetically on the Chinese philosophy of Taoism, summarizes this, coining the term “wu-wei”, or “without action”. It places faith in the structure of the universe and its natural harmony to create order and sense as is.
This is a hard argument to pass to a 21 year old.
Life as we know it is meticulously crafted with various annals, red tape, and roundabouts that we’re reluctantly pressed into for the sake of societal success and acceptance. The rigors of schooling, something an adolescent has been deeply embedded in his/her entire life, solidifies this thinking. Couple with this persuasion is its nasty tendency to generate elitism, as those who jumped the hoops of system and routine curry favor among themselves, and begin to question anyone who hasn’t shared their artificial plight.
If there is one thing that wu-wei can successfully legitimize for me, it’s the perception that life just is, irrespective of what pressures we’ve perpetuated for ourselves. Things only mean so long as we impose on them to do so. Really, nothing has to be anything.
And that imposing does not essentially change anything. If at all, it distorts.
To convince myself of what banality society as we know it appears to have, I look back at scientists, philosophers, and mathematicians of the past. Did Da Vinci ace his calculus tests? How much tuition did Galileo have to pay for his Astrophysics major? Did Edgar Allan Poe like his Creative Writing 102 class? And which corporation funded Benjamin Franklin’s kite study?
Embedded within our order is the need to impose. Our structure is created to impose our perception of justice and equality on one another, articulated by the thinking that life will not just naturally grant rewards to those who’ve earned it.
Furthermore, our society is built to consolidate success and riches to the few who play its assertive game, with the clause that the more your jump through its hoops, the more reward you deserve. This again presupposes that natural order does not provide well enough. So the game is built to arrogantly compensate what we believe the world cannot serve.
But what system did any of our most ancient and influential minds play along with? In fact, I struggle to find any that ever fully lauded the societal structure of their time. I similarly struggle to find anyone of philosophical/influential stature who is a champion of the system. You play to win the game. But what if the game plays to win you?