Saturday, June 7, 2014

To be! Or not ...

To be, or not to be, that is the question.  Whether 'tis nobler to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or to take arms against a sea of troubles, and by opposing, end them.  'Tis an end devoutly to be wish'd, yet the weight of heart for such an endeavor is sufficient to devour the strength of one who walks alone, and that which accompanies a father with his son in battle is more than can be borne unless heaven wars on their behalf.
To be, or instead perhaps, to have, and to pursue the having; 'tis the satisfaction of every dream, of every desire; and by having, we say we end the heartache, and the thousand natural shocks a day might bring.  Having heals it all.  To have, perchance to have continually more; aye, there's the rub, for we know not what the pursuit itself may bring.  'Tis known, though, that when we have shuffled off this mortal coil, having much will be our grand advancement.  Because Wall Street and Madison Avenue say so, and they wouldn't lie to us.
Having or being, ... as divergent as these ways might be, the two are each religions of a sort. Eric Fromm in his discussion of the divergence understood religion to be“any group-shared system of thought and action that offers the individual a frame of orientation and an object of devotion”, and he says that modern society is characterized by this new religion – of 'having'. In this new religion people serve the economy, and the objects of worship are work, property, and power. To Fromm, this state of things is fundamentally wrong.

“Modern man has transformed himself into a commodity; he experiences his life energy as an investment with which he should make the highest profit, considering his position and the situation on the personality market. He is alienated from himself, from his fellow men and from nature. His main aim is profitable exchange of his skills, knowledge, and of himself, his "personality package" with others who are equally intent on a fair and profitable exchange. Life has no goal except the one to move, no principle except the one of fair exchange, no satisfaction except the one to consume.  p97.” 
― Erich FrommThe Art of Loving

He suggests this unhealthy shaping can be reversed, but much of life must change. Women have long been a "property" of men.  The rich have long enslaved the poor.  This race has long subjugated that race.  The powerful have long abused the disenfranchised.

Acknowledging the complexity of such a task as finding a “cure” for the world, Fromm is sure that the chances for success are small. However, he still hopes that the new “City of Being” will come to be the next global vision (Fromm 202).
Global vision?  Or perhaps
a personal path ...

Was Fromm overly pessimistic about the destiny of the world?  He didn't live long enough to see the fearful expectation of WW III evaporate when the Soviet Union collapsed.  The world is much different, the scale of wars is decreasing, and globalization is changing everything.  Of course, resources all over the world are now in decline, economic troubles afflict most people in the world, and the social gap is widening at an accelerating pace. Fromm may or may not have considered globalization a good step forward. It's what we've got to work with, however.  A cure for the world; or perhaps an individual path.
You must choose wisely ...
The bad guy, he chose poorly ...
Our culture shapes us and our children, powerfully and emphatically.

Unless we wisely choose a better way; no?    

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