I have a problem. I am wired to fix things I see and try improve systems to run better. I have tried to work on it so that I can be blissfuly ignorant, but have failed miserably at it. This way of thinking has lead me to pay very close attention to my kids, how we raise them and outside influences that will shape them as they grow.
It really is a war zone. There is a fight raging for the minds of people. This begins very early, because, as any political tyrant or marketing guru knows, if you can win the minds of children and the weak willed, you have a generation of zombies to fleece and command. This often equates to government sanctioned manipulation. Don't believe me? Turn on any kids TV channel and see how much advertising the kids get bombed with. We are against children working, yet we are more than happy to manipulate them in other ways to make our money from them. We prosecute and hunt paedophiles and righfully so, yet allow these kids to be sexualised and manipulated by marketing.
I believe it all comes down to sex. The sooner you can have children making adult decisions, the sooner you can start manipulating them. Giving people rights to choose as adults without the responsibility that adults have is a recipe for disaster. When young men and women are exposed to sexuality and sexual content, several things happen. Women begin to buy products to make men notice them. Men do the same. This covers everything from lip balm to turbo chargers on cars. Our whole economy seems to hinge on sexualising everything and marketing things in a way that will make you feel like you will be the envy of all your friends, and people will want you. The only problem is, these items have cycles. Every 2 - 4 months there is a new and better product out, so you need to keep up. This inability to keep pace with the marketing image causes all kinds of grief. Serious identity confusion is probably the biggest problem of them all.
Mum and Dad work. What we see on TV changes monthly, if not daily. We have nothing firm to take hold of to create our identity and feel familiar with. This is the environment that our kids are growing up in. At some point we as parents need to put the brakes on and realise we are rich because we have what we need, not necessarily what we want. I catch myself out from time to time chasing dreams in the illusion that I will make use of something I see advertised, when in reality I probably never will. I have even been fleeced a couple times by the advertising. I am starting to grow out of this as I get older and see the scam for what it is. I have decided to rebel.
I don't wear clothes with flashy brand labels. I will not advertise for companies. I encourage people to buy secondhand. If a product survives long enough to become second hand, it is a good product. I don't watch TV. I don't care about Dancing with the Biggest Fatty Idol. I don't need a new car. I will not borrow money to buy a new watch. I spend time with my wife and children outside instead of going to resteraunts and the cinema. I learn to do things myself rather than depend on others. I try to teach my children to see past the fasade and the sugar coating, trying to reveal the farce that lies beneath. I teach the importance of saying what you mean, and meaning what you say. I show my kids that a life without honor is hollow and makes you a coward, ready to sell yourslef and others to provide your lusts.
It's all about self control and saying no. We are taught that saying no to yourself is bad. How often do we hear this line, "I have worked hard all week - month - year... I deserve to...". Sometimes there is no justification for doing stupid things and catering to some desires. If we view our time, money and relationships as an investment, then we need to look at short term pleasure versus long term gain. We should view what we see around us in the same way. How will giving in to this desire / advertising / attitude better me or others around me. When I started thinking like this, I filtered out a great deal of garbage in my life and liberated a heap of time I would have spent watching TV, sitting at the pub, partying etc...
Being still and reflective is not the same as doing nothing. You don't have to be a rat on a wheel to get somewhere. Spend time in refelection and think about how your are investing yourself and what legacy you will leave behind. I think about this daily now that I have kids. I had practice doing this while working as a teacher as I always took this role seriously and saw my job as one of great importance. This is why the outdoors is great. No distractions, just you and your attitude. This is why wilderness therapy works so well. Distractions hide who we are, like the magician's lovely assistant distracts us so the magician can hide his secrets, our weak character traits hide behind the ipod and TV.
Focus on what you need, not what you want. You will be as suprised as I was at how little we actually need to be happy, and make others around us happier too.