Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Rebels Against A Specific Lifestyle?

When talking about a typical adult's lifestyle, it could be said that most societies in the world clearly follow a specific model. The latter appears to be characterised by the following steps: having terminated one's full-time education (by choice or by necessity), a person is normally compelled to look for a job. Upon finding a job, an individual is usually expected to dedicate most of one's waking hours to that occupation throughout most days of the year. For millions of people, the cycle of waking up, getting ready, working, going back home, resting for a couple of hours, sleeping, and then repeating everything all over again is repeated for several decades. Given the fact that millions of human beings are constrained to borrow money in order to acquire a number of basic commodities, it is not surprising to see many people spending most of their lives trying to pursue freedom from debt.

Faced with the cycle mentioned above, it seems that most individuals just go along with the flow. These are the people who surrender a big chunk of their time on most days of the week so that they can earn enough money to survive and to enjoy some of the good things that life has to offer. These are the people who might have a number of jobs during a period of 30 or so years. They are the ones who believe that short of a "lucky exit", it is virtually impossible to think of an alternative lifestyle.

Although there are various types of jobs these days, it is difficult to regard the capitalist working culture that is encouraged in the majority of workplaces as the most socially beneficial one. In many private companies, there is cut-throat competition, a great deal of greed, and a shocking lack of concern for the general welfare of the employees. If an employee becomes ill for a relatively long period of time, instead of trying to think about ways of helping that person, it is not uncommon to hear many employees suggesting the need to get rid of such an "unproductive" individual in order to obtain a replacement. In countless private companies, nothing is more important than profit; whatever does not contribute to an increase of the bottom line should be eliminated or avoided. Several employers talk about "terminating" employees without showing too much discomfort.

Not all people feel able or willing to spend a good 30 or so years of their lives in such an atmosphere. Such individuals might believe that life is way too short to be spent on boasting about how much more efficient, smart, or productive one is compared to other fellow human beings. They might think that human beings were born free and that if a person wants to spend a year or two travelling and reading, one should be able to pursue such a lifestyle without the threat of starvation or homelessness. Such people might be very willing to help build a better society that would be able to encourage the positive development of every human being, but without having to compete against other individuals or to be constrained to one area of activity for countless years. Perhaps they would like to be able to help by spending two months teaching, six months building a community centre, and a year providing first aid services to several people.

Since most people do not seem to enjoy questioning the status quo and prefer to go with the flow, there is a widespread tendency to view those individuals who dare to rebel against the predominant lifestyle as "lazy" or even as "crazy". The attempt to be different is squashed by various measures which make life for such people virtually impossible. The most popular threat is starvation - if you refuse to go with the flow, you will not be given any money by nobody so that you will eventually die of hunger. With no money, you will eventually end up without any water and electricity, and perhaps even homeless.

I believe that it is far too simplistic to label all those people who decide that they do not want to form part of the predominant culture as lazy. Furthermore, even if they were acting in a "lazy way", something must have triggered such behaviour in the first place. Sadly, this issue does not seem to receive much attention during discussions about "the lazy people who do not want to work".

Throughout my life, I have come across some of these rebels. One of them had been working in a fairly senior position for many years before he decided that he no longer wanted to pursue such a lifestyle. Shortly after he quit, I asked him whether he was thinking of another job; his reply was, "I want to take a break...I want to spend some time without being bossed around by other people!" Of course, his decision had fairly predictable consequences. After a few months, his savings ran out and he started facing several problems to pay the bills, feed himself, and so on. In spite of all these hardships, he has still not returned to his former lifestyle.

Do you know any similar rebels? Have you ever talked to them in order to understand their motivations? Do you think that such people are just lazy and that they deserve all the troubles they face?

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