I was thinking the other day, as I walked back to my desk floating somewhere on a sea of overtime. Mostly I was thinking about the dominance of capitalism in our modern lives; how it has displaced great swathes of previously natural human behaviour with the ‘economically rational’. This is particularly pronounced in the UK, and probably in the US and certainly in Japan, with one of many symptoms being the long hours culture. Why on earth should we spend more time in the office than asleep in bed, than with our friends and family, or just doing things we enjoy that aren’t necessarily work?
At the risk of being philosophical before midnight, it’s all down to the question ‘Why are you alive?’. The answer to this question isn’t to work chronically long hours; at least not in a commercial environment. Maybe there are doctors and pastors and youth workers (and ship captains) who have a vocation, a mission – but none of them are captains of enterprise, that’s for sure. It’s often said that nobody ever died wishing they’d worked harder for somebody else, that’s because it’s true. There is another side to the dominance of economic rationalism as an accepted mode of thought for everyone. It encourages us to destroy the planet, which is nothing but a fortunate resource to improve our quality of life in the short term. To take a look at this for just one microsecond, it’s perfectly clear that actually we’re encouraged to burn and consume the world as fast as humanly possible. If you’re not consuming it, somebody else will – and this is to your detriment not because they’re destroying the planet, but because they’re apparently enjoying it which means you have to sit out.
Ultimately this type of capitalism will bring about the death of God. As we work longer and harder to earn money, to generate growth for our corporations, to buy houses and pay our pensions, we’re eroding not only the natural but also the sacred parts of our lives. In the dark times before man invented economics, everyone more or less believed in God (whether Jesus, Buddha or just worshipping the sun in the sky). I’d love to know when the first recorded case of atheism was! Whereas once man lived on God’s earth, and was either duly grateful for the privilege of a short and generally not that exciting life, now we live on a ball of resources floating through the solar system and the last one to fill their mouth with gold can starve.
So I guess the point is that I don’t exist solely to make money for corporations or destroy the world (either for fun or because it’s economically rational). If I did, and so did everyone else, then what would be the point of God anyway? The human race would just snuff itself out in a puff of toxic smoke and there would be nobody (and not much in the way of plant and animal life either) to pray to God.
I want to go to bed at night knowing that I did something more useful than destroying the planet and making money for someone else! Fingers crossed 99% of the human race will come to agree with me one day. Maybe that requires a world where you can spread idealism on toast and eat it for supper, but here’s hoping.