A critical and satirical gazette about our world.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

HOW TO BE HAPPY

At last we have found the way to happiness! For centuries people have sought joy in life by various means that have all left us less than satisfied. We have tried romantic love as a way to ecstasy. We have attempted to amass personal fortunes. We have pursued sexual entanglements for physical delight. We have eaten ourselves fat for bounteous satiety. But none of these behaviors has made us feel truly and constantly happy. Fortunately we have discovered right under our noses on counters, shelves, carts, telephones, and computers the path to heaven on Earth—a new secular faith greater than any religion, love affair, or feast—consumerism.

We are born to buy. And never has buying been easier. We used to need a few coins in our pockets to purchase a loaf of bread or a few potatoes. That has radically changed. We have been freed to buy almost whatever, whenever, wherever we want. And we always want. We eat, sleep, and dream of what we want. And we want everything money can buy, even if we do not have any money.

What in the old days was an obstacle to acquisition, that is, insufficient money in the bank, has all but disappeared. Nowadays we are blessed with an almost unlimited line of credit in the form of a shiny piece of plastic. A flexible substitute for money cut in the form of the golden rectangle accompanies us everywhere. In case we spot some attractive item for sale that we do not yet possess, we whip out our wallets and unfold a strap of five or ten cards, all at different stages of financial rotation. When we maximize the limit on one card we have another still open to slap on the sales counter and make a purchase. No fuss with counting currency, no muss with writing checks, no worry about sufficient funds. Buy now, pay later. Or we can roll one card into another and maybe never pay our bills. A virtually unlimited line of credit. We just keep making tiny little monthly payments of pocket money and the line goes on for a lifetime of shopping.

Constant shopping means happiness for billions. We are what we have. The more we have the more important we are. The one who dies with the most things wins the game of life. No matter we amass mountains of debt. Borrow and spend is the mantra of the new economy. Governments do it. Corporations that own the governments do it. Cooperatively everyone else does it. If you are not at least $5000 in debt, you are not on your game. You are not even trying. Besides, we can always hock ourselves to keep consuming.

A sure way to guarantee continued shopping, even when we find our credit cards maximized, lies readily available. Indenturism. Not slavery but a civil contract. We sell ourselves to the company store. We work to earn to buy to have to work to earn to buy to have and so on until we become too old to work and we die happy. Then if we have acquired enough to make us at least temporarily happy, we finally expire in a state of comfort, maybe even luxury, surrounded by things, stuff that makes our lives worthwhile. What a relief!

If we should ever succumb to a totalitarian state that forces us to consume for the sake of the nation, we would be ready to give up our rights for the duty of supporting a free-market economy. Not such a bad idea, right? People will be pleased to oblige the megacorporations that control the minds and bodies of the masses by working as many hours of the day and as many days of the week as possible to make enough money to pay the ever-renewing bills for the purchase of products made by the megacorporations. No matter if we lose free time and the right to choose our own ways of life. The loss of these formerly established essentials of decent civilization is worth the benefit of having more things. Things are the great goal of living. Not people or ideas but things occupy us and stimulate our spirits to believe in a quality of life based on the marvelous marketplace. No more valuable institution could ever exist.

So let us go now and visit the malls. Let us bring our plastic. Let us make a day and a night of the exciting experience. Let us shop all morning from the opening of the doors, lunch at a mall fast food stand, shop all afternoon. Dine in a mall restaurant. Catch a movie in the mall theater and then shop until the doors close. Buy, buy, buy, buy for we are what we have. Nothing more, nothing less.

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