Why is it that we spend so much time creating long term plans to only gain short term pleasure? That seems to me one of the greatest downfalls of modern society: our willingness to work endlessly for the next new thing, a night out, and retirement. Not that I am opposed to these things, but isn’t that a little backwards? Our ideas of pleasure seem to be so inward looking and shallow. The idea that a movie, a game, or a night of drinks is a bonding activity seems like a very infinitesimal goal. Why not shoot for the stars? Are we afraid, or are we just innately such terrible, selfish creatures that we are not willing to experience real happiness with one another?
I refuse to believe that the latter is the reason. Such a proposition makes me more than depressed. Growing up in a society that glorifies material possession, sex, and superficiality, I find it difficult to persuade people that I am right. You need look no further than the people who have led the most fulfilling lives to see that we are doing something wrong as a culture.
It seems, in my mind, to come down to two starkly different cultural mentalities: individualism versus collectivism. Anyone mildly familiar with sociology will know that the former is the idea embraced by Western society that the individual’s responsibility is to herself and to make herself who she wishes to be, whereas collectivism is a commitment to family and tradition – the preservation of the group rather than the one.
These two options leave us no choice but to develop ankle-deep relationships with most people. Nearly all people desire intimate relationships with others, but we frequently cannot do so because in the West we are too concerned with ourselves, and in the East we are too concerned with our immediate social groups. I want to find an intermediate, because I think both of these are fantastic in many ways, but they both neglect the need for people to have opportunities for meaningful lives and relationships – inseparable goals in a creature as hopelessly social as homo sapiens.