Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Free Thinking the new Dodo?

The Cult you’re in points out the cookie cutter lives that western society has adopted, early on the idea of capitalism and profit are embedded into our minds. All to quickly we abandon the fire fighter and police officer hero dreams once a well meaning elder informs us that these kinds of life saving antics don’t pay off well and we’d be better off behind a desk. Adopted then are the dreams of one day owning a business, making deals, lawyers and doctors. We all strive for that dream home, two child family, white picket fence, big screen TV and the ever elusive second porch.

These are the mass produced and marketed dreams we’re fed before our imaginations have been given a chance to grow. Before we start school we’re read books about theses happy families, watch movies about troublesome suburban kids who mess up their parent’s paper work before the charming family moment, our dreams are sold and marketed to us, on eye level next to the sugary cartoon cereal our mother’s won’t let us buy.

Turn on any TV set and you’ll see the same dream, strived for by every fictional character, make it to the top, earn the big pay checks and make the big purchases. Each night tune in to see the way sitcom family A’s life was better through their struggle for that big screen and celebration for the Christmas bonus. After all money makes the world go round, and if you’re not making money well you simply won’t be very happy, now will you? Our entire culture has been based of this desire for greed, earn more than the next guy, out perform John and Sally, get good grade and go to the good schools, make the big bucks or you’ll die alone. The same ideas and images, recycled and regurgitated with different names, in different white-bred suburbs season after season we’re treated to the same punch lines and scenarios force feeding us the all American dream.

While reading the article one particular image, burned into my memory on constant replay. Of the one moment where the Kodak Gods aligned their Polaroid stars in the single perfect illustration of conformity and consumption about which you’d always joked. It was sometime during grade 10, I’m sure I’ll never forget it, walking into class, late of course, and seeing a field of stripes. The entire class was wearing stripes, teacher included; I remember doing road call in my head, double and triple checking just to be sure. The entire class of twenty some students, had gotten up that morning, in their individual middle class houses sporting different hues of white, each individually selected their clothing from a closet which could fund some starving nation, and arrived at school all sporting stripes (save myself of course, who never seems to belong not even on the subconscious level, or perhaps I’m still not on the talk mail list). Not all stripes were the same mind you, some wore thing, others wide, some were white other’s coloured, a few sported single stripes, some doubled up where others tripled, a few were entirely striped in alternating colours. But that wasn’t the scariest part, sure an entire class wearing the same thing is eerie, however what really shook me was the fact that no one, before my untimely arrival, had noticed. Not one eyelash bashed, as they said their hello’s and exchanged the morning gossip ritual or whatever it was they did in those damned circles in the hallway. Every student took her/his seat, looked around the class and began their chatter. Out of the twenty some students and one teacher no one registered this obvious notion, not a single remark was made until I commented on this phenomenon did the word spread that they were all the same, and even then a slight chuckle and a “well would you look at that” and that was it. Everyone moved on with their lives, as if nothing peculiar had occurred, nothing strange nor wrong. No one cared; no one bothered to think or considered this fact or what it all meant. I remember sitting back in amazement at the lack of concern, when suddenly I came to a most disturbing realization … my underwear were striped, and I knew then that I too was doomed.R

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