Counter-culture Journals (文革)

Counter-culture Journals (文革)

Monday, March 11, 2013

Self Help—Self absorption

Many have read Eat Pray Love: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia, by Elizabeth Gilbert, the story of a woman who travels across the sea after a divorce. Most people can’t afford to just fly off to Europe and go on an eating binge. But people who can’t afford to do that bought the book anyway. In America it is important to learn to love your inter-self because we don’t reach out to others.

Self indulgence is a way of life here in America and self help books are very important to such a society. Eat Pray Love is not labeled a self help book, it is a memoir, but it caters to the self help readers.

Other typical self help books include; The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, by Stephen R. Covey, How to Stop Worrying and Start Living, by Dale Carnegie, and for those who want to improve their self indulgent abilities there are; Think and Grow Rich, by Napoleon Hill, and The Science of Getting Rich, by Wallace D. Wattles.

Many philosophers have warned us that having friends will make us happy, not fame fortune or power. The ancient Greek philosopher Epicurus was one of the first philosophers to write that;

Nothing is enough for the man to whom enough is too little.

And

Of all things which wisdom provides to make life entirely happy, much the greatest is the possession of friendship.”

In modern times Jean-Paul Sartre wrote a lot about human alienation and, on the need for friends over greed;

There are two types of poor people, those who are poor together and those who are poor alone. The first are the true poor, the others are rich people out of luck.”

But many people here don’t believe that. They strive to compete against everyone around them for better jobs with higher pay and then fence themselves off from everyone. That may be why people in some places, such as Kansas, feel such a strong need for guns. The rest of the world is an enemy to be feared.

Self help books help us learn to love the inter-self since our world has encouraged us to cut ourselves off from the outside world. Religion is important in America because it helps those who have strive to be successful, to fill that empty feeling that comes from cutting ourselves off from others. It allows people to have a relationship with a mythical god that isn’t real, but the belief in him is. Then an individual can have the best friend of all, a god. As the joke goes;

“Jesus loves you, everyone else thinks you’re an asshole.”

And Epicurus warned;

If God listened to the prayers of men, all men would quickly have perished: for they are forever praying for evil against one another.

If Jesus loves you, you can afford to let everyone else think you’re an asshole. But instead of loving your neighbor, modern Christians learn to scapegoat their neighbors. Blame poor people you’ve never gotten to know, for being a drain on the economy. Blame others for all your problems. The fewer people you know the easier it is. And the fewer minorities and people outside your social economic class, the easier it is to blame other classes and minorities for your own economic problems.

Self help books are probably the most popular books on the book store shelves today because people constantly try to improve themselves and seek the happiness that has alluded them by surrounding their themselves with material junk. The worship of greed requires self help since it is really hard to find satisfaction through economic gluttony.

And here in the US we have a system that tells us that living the good life and being rich is necessary to keep the system going. If this doesn’t satisfy a person’s needs there is religion and self help. Of course reaching out to other people, both at home and abroad, is more likely to lead to a feeling of happiness than appeasing pure self indulgence.


 

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