“If you want to understand a society, take a good look at the drugs it uses. And what can this tell you about American culture? Well, look at the drugs we use. Except for pharmaceutical poison, there are essentially only two drugs that Western civilization tolerates: Caffeine from Monday to Friday to energize you enough to make you a productive member of society, and alcohol from Friday to Monday to keep you too stupid to figure out the prison that you are living in.”
― Bill Hicks
It might be quite cynical and controversial but I feel like Bill makes a good point. It’s the ‘rat race’, what do you win at the end of it? In the short term – Success? In the long term – Death?
Wikipedia puts it well:
A rat race is an endless, self-defeating, or pointless pursuit. It conjures up the image of the futile efforts of a lab rat trying to escape while running around a maze or in a wheel.
In an analogy to the modern city, many rats in a single maze expend a lot of effort running around, but ultimately achieve nothing (meaningful) either collectively or individually. This is often used in reference to work, particularly excessive or competitive work; in general terms, if one works too much, one is in the rat race. This terminology contains implications that many people see work as a seemingly endless pursuit with little reward or purpose.
The increased image of work as a “rat race” in modern times has led many to question their own attitudes to work and seek a better alternative; a more harmonious Work-life balance. Many believe that long work hours, unpaid overtime, stressful jobs, time spent commuting, less time for family life and/or friends life, has led to a generally unhappier workforce/population unable to enjoy the benefits of increased economic prosperity and a higher standard of living.
Escaping the rat race can have a number of different meanings:
A description of the movement, of either the Home or Work Location, of previously City Dwellers or Workers to more rural locations
Retirement in general or no longer needing / having to work.
Moving from a high pressure job to a less intense role either at a different company or within the same company at an alternative location or department.
Changing to a different job that does not involve working 9 to 5 and a long commute.
Becoming financially independent from an employer.
Entering professions such as teaching/motivational speaking
Moving away from the city to the country and living in harmony with nature.
It’s certainly socially accepted and the norm in society to live like this. In cave man days, they would probably just get up when the sun rose and go to bed when it went down, in sync with nature. But now we get up super early everyday, work hard all day and go to bed too late every night, then when the weekend rolls around you might say we feel entitled to let our hair down. Not a great cycle for our health or sanity but it sure does keep us productive and ignorant.
So whether it’s a Rat Race, a conveyor belt, treadmill, or an invisible prison, I don’t want to be part of it. Life is ultimately pointless in the grand scheme of things but I could at least spend my best years doing something that truly fulfills me instead of chasing money in order to keep on living to keep on chasing money, it’s self perpetuating stress and meaninglessness.
I hope this had some value to you, and your mind is more full of meaningful, thought provoking stuff. What’s your opinion on the subject?
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