Monday, January 30, 2006

The Human Penchant for Destruction

It's always interesting to try and see things objectively. We claim an objective stance, often, but rarely do we actually succeed in holding such a position. One of the areas in which we humans are least objective is that of lifestyle evaluation. In these days when right and wrong are a matter of taste, not truth, the determination of one lifestyle as objectively "better" than another is hard to come by. Yet it is my contention that if we do try and look honestly at the way people live, we can see certain ways of life as fundamentally better than others and thus reflective of a sound worldview.

Think of the ideal lifestyle of the twentysomething American male, the societal group to which I belong. As it's portrayed in the media, life consists of excess. Chasing girls, drinking, watching sports, taking vacations are all run through the grid of "as much as possible." And yet when one examines these behaviors from most any standpoint, one sees that these patterns of living do not tend to self-betterment. They tend to self-destruction. Sex with multiple partners in various states of consciousness invites all sorts of disease and emotional pain. Drinking mindlessly and endlessly brings early corrosion to one's body and weakens one's ability to perform the basic tasks of life--work, domestic responsibilities, the conduct of relationships. Plunging into pleasure without check, and smothering one's mind in a continual parade of entertainment, takes away one's respect for responsibility and discipline. Far from freeing one to experience true happiness, the lifestyle of indulgence and excess in fact traps many a twentysomething in a shallow, guilt-ridden, wasted life.

This is not even to mention the extremes of the problems outlined above. What above all the twentysomethings who don't make it to the front pages of glamorous magazines? What about the divorces, the births out of wedlock, the abortions, the pill addictions, the pornography addictions, the credit card debt due to unchecked spending, and the deaths that come from mindless partying? What about all the feelings that are hurt along the way, the parental hopes that are dashed, the siblings who yearn for an example but end up estranged? What about the world problems that go untackled, the society that erodes, the families that die off? No, the lifestyle of excess as pursued by many twentysomethings is not equal to others. It is objectively bad. It leads, perhaps slowly, but surely, to destruction. It has no checks, it has no balances, it sees no signposts. It brushes conscience aside and tramples shame, leaving its only helps crushed in the dust. All lifestyles are not created equal. Instead of arguing for this idea, might we consider it honestly? And what about the life philosophy that creates such a life? To guage its validity, don't look to its glamour. Look to its wake. Find your answers in the dust, not the dazzle.


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