How Our Machine-Based Way of Life is Not Only Destroying Nature, It Is Also Destroying Us
The following is an excerpt from Eros Over Logos: A Revolt of the Instinctual Mind Amidst the Madness of Modern Life.
We're so engaged in doing things to achieve purposes of outer value that we forget that the inner value, the rapture that is associated with being alive, is what it's all about. —Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth
As human beings living in the modern world, we must ask ourselves, “How does our being coexist with all our going?” It‘s an important question because every day we are constantly and simultaneously moving in multiple directions so rapidly that we rarely have the opportunity to connect with the being of our human nature. Being is not the same as doing, and we live in a culture of non-stop acceleration, of continual, frenzied, anxiety and competition-driven, on the go action.
Even our foremost pastimes, the movies, television shows, and sporting events we view—things we do to recover from all our work and busyness—exemplify this glorification of non-stop, nerve-riveting action, of violence, crime, sexual exploits, and destruction.
In this world, there is very little time for rest and relaxation, and when there is time we virtually recoil from it in horror, somehow believing that the moment we cease to act, we also cease to exist. Thus, our most revered and apparent sense of self is identified with anxiety and accomplishment. Many of us tend to resolve this predicament, albeit temporarily, by sedating ourselves with drugs and/or alcohol. When the work day is done the only way many people can change gears or get relaxed is to crack open the bottle or load up the pipe. Our use of mind-altering substances also displays our need to return to the being of our human nature; so why does our normal modern mode of living have to operate in antithesis to it?
By losing regular contact with our underlying non-anxiety driven, non-neurotic, but intrinsically stable, calm, and reflective inner nature, we have ceased to function as, or find fulfillment in, the inherent human being that we are. Indeed, we are becoming increasingly like the programmed devices with which our technological society inundates us, giving the outer impression of vast and dynamic possibilities, but moreover removed from the human heart. Because we lack a true connection with our inner being, we are terrified of being alone or of being at rest; and, paradoxically, through our compulsive obsessions with the frenetic, technology-driven pace of life: we have alienated ourselves from ourselves.
The more we aspire to be in touch with each other via technological devices such as the cell phone, internet, and webcam, the further we stray from the simple human capacity to share space: to talk in person face to face, to be silent, to listen, to breath the same air, to break bread, to live closely together, and to feel the true embodied companionship of those we love, of family, friends, and even strangers. Having quantifiably more contacts in our cell phone, MySpace, or Facebook account is not the same as having more quality relationships that incorporate depth and richness. Sometimes “less is more,” but that‘s something our capitalistic, money-driven society does not easily grasp.
In the modern Western world, powerful personalities are not usually measured as such by their magnitude of loving-kindness or their propensity to inspire the imagination and the human spirit—although figures such as John Lennon and Martin Luther King, Jr. certainly were—but moreover by their capacity to control others, to manipulate the markets and accumulate wealth. In the world of capitalism, the way powerful people relate to things, such as time, or even other people, is not in any way contemplative, reflective or appreciative; it is almost completely manipulative, aimed at molding things to fit in with their goals of how they want the world to be—for them, “time is money.”