Having It All

For the first time in human history, it is possible for almost anyone (with the limited caveat of starting with reasonably good health) to have it all. If you decide to live near a major metropolitan area, technology and its offshoots and byproducts have created the ability for you to have almost anything you want, anytime you want it, almost instantly. There are times that it may take a little creative planning to pull off some of the more exotic possibilities, but the ability to satisfy even some of your most outlandish whims and desires is without precedence. Instead of only a very few rich and powerful people being able to decadently indulge their whims, now, in the West, especially in America, extremely large portions of our population have this power. I believe there is a price to pay for this. As we have lost what I view as the rhythmic cycle of want and fulfillment, we lost a very important balancing effect on our lives.

To me at least, it appears that as a culture and individual human beings, we have sunk into a nearly inescapable spiral of excess: excess food, excess sex, excess thrill seeking, excess entertainments, and in the end, excess excess. What is the drug culture other than the attempt to experience the new and novel, to take our mind and bodily sensations beyond our normal limits and go where they have never gone before. Haven’t we, as a people, finally reached the point where we can have, not just want, it all?

Looking back on those, who in the past, through wealth and power, came the closest to having their every whim satisfied, do we see nobility, great character, and the ascendancy of the human spirit? No, it appears to be the opposite, despite some rare exceptions. They were often spoiled brats. Turning to our ever growing population of whim fulfillers aren’t we turning into a culture of petulant spoiled brats ourselves? The former excesses of the few are now the excesses of many and to use a contemporary context, aren’t we approaching a tipping point in our culture that would have made the Epicureans of old rapturous with envy? What is to be said about a life that when lived, the best thing that can be said about it was, “He had it all”? How about a culture with the same end point? Can we survive this pell-mell pursuit of hedonistic fulfillment? What lies ahead? This is unprecedented in human history. Never before has such a critical mass of people become so sated.

  5 comments for “Having It All

  1. July 29, 2004 at 11:54 pm

    Reminds me of a C.S. Lewis quote: “Prosperity knits a man to the world.”

  2. July 30, 2004 at 1:32 am

    Do you remember what work of Lewis’ that comes from?

  3. Dick Bentley
    April 1, 2005 at 5:26 pm

    You know, I’m responding to some of your columns because I saw you bash Michael Shiavo needlessly (saw it on google) and want to take the time to attempt to correct your skewed world view. But I can’t argue with you about this.

    Obviously, our paradigms for understanding the world and human psyche and for measuring happiness need to change.

  4. April 1, 2005 at 11:40 pm

    Needlessly? Hmm… that is an interesting assessment.

    So you want to correct my skewed worldview and you think I should adopt a different paradigm (yours?) for understanding our existence and measuring human happiness.

    All evil comes from sin and the only way to properly understand the world and the human psyche is to realize that.

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