The Prison of Our Culture

prisonOur American culture and economic system has imprisioned millions of us and has no intention of setting us free. Our jailer would be glad to see us die in captivity, clinging to the bars of our cell, striving to pry them apart or appealing to the holder of the keys to let us go.

We are taught from childhood what we need: a good education; an upscale car; a spacious house; and all of the things that make life more comfortable. So we go to college and amass debt. Then we get a job to pay off the debt, only to need a new car for transportation to the job. Then we gather convenience items and distractions in order to quiet ourselves after we arrive home exhausted from work.

We are given credit cards and encouraged to ignore the actual cost of what we purchase, so that we end up paying  20/ 30/ 50 times for an item we bought ten years ago that was designed to wear out in nine months. The credit card companies charge interest at 15%+ and the banks give about .01%  on our simple savings accounts.

We start a family and therefore need a larger house, plus feel the need to cover all of the expenses of seeing our children safely through college. The debt continues to build and we work more hours and spend less time with family and more with distractions. We grab fast food and try to find time and money for the much needed vacations.

We are told that we can not possibly retire until we have paid off the mortgage and have a substantial amount of savings so that we can continue the same lifestyle through the end of our lives. What we are not told is the number of people who die at their desks or have their bodies give out under the strain of continuing to try to pry the bars open. Our economic system depends on us never giving up the struggle to get ahead, to continue to gather all the things that are supposed to make us happy and secure.

As I was seeking deep wisdom for our transition out of this culture and economy, the thought suddenly appeared, “You will stand at the prison bars forever shaking them and struggling with them, and the jailer will never let you out. But if you will turn around and begin walking the other direction, you will find that you can walk through the walls that you imagine hold you in.”

The culture and economy can only confine me if I believe their lies. They tell me to be ashamed of my debt and afraid of the idea of living on a monthly budget of $1,000 – $2,000. My heart tells me that I need a forgiveness ceremony to let go of self-punishment for not succeeding in this system in order that I might step fully into a life of “just enough.”  The culture warns me that I must not end up running from my financial responsibilities. My heart tells me that I can choose to walk away from an abusive and manipulative financial structure, as I would leave any abusive relationship.

My culture tells me that I have to have health care coverage based on the belief that my body is a machine to be quickly repaired when it breaks down. My heart tells me that my body is part of the endless dance of energy and that when illness or injury emerge I need to listen for what it is teaching me for my own evolution. I will die, as all will die. But if I fully live my days, dying will just be the next step of the journey.

I am going to turn my back and walk away from the bars. In the coming weeks I will share more posts about this aspect of the transition. I hope you will join me in turning around and beginning to walk through the imaginary walls.



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