A string of simple words is enough to completely expose goals as irrelevant and disarm ambitions--it is enough to expose the dream of modern society as the most dangerous joke ever to be entertained. And it is a joke.
We spend our lives yearning for more when there is happiness to be found in so little. We spend our lives clobbering over others attempting to prove ourselves in the social hierarchy; we belittle, we compete, and we go to any deceptive or honest means to obtain coveted superiority above another human. This is the American Dream. Are we content with the knowledge that there is so much suffering and that we, the fortunate few, the "brave" individuals we would all humor ourselves to be, spend our days flying off ski jumps, sitting in class rooms, or working in a cubicle?
When I was in elementary school I was taught about the horrible, horrible slave trade of the 1800's. I learned about the underground railway, people who risked everything to smuggle fugitive slaves to their freedom. When I heard the story I knew that had I lived in those days, I would have been part of the underground railway. I would have stood up for what I believed was right and put everything on the line to prove it. What my teachers forgot to tell me was that slavery is still happening, and that even bigger world issues exist. Even so, we turn a def ear to it in order to blissfully live out our lives. We dream of a future with a white house on a green filed, our kids running around chasing ponies, and two new silver cars in the driveway; one automatic transmission Toyota for the wife, and a standard Civic for the husband. The only sound to be heard during the day is that of lazy bumblebees flying around your nicely arranged garden and the laughter of kids playing on the trampoline next door; the sound of injustice so completely muted by distance.
But how can this be? In elementary school I would have called that person a coward, but he is not considered a coward who has his family’s best interest in mind. But is there any other word for the person who sees world issues and decides that it is too complicated to get involved with, or too dangerous? Who remembers those who stood by and watched the slave trade unfold in the 1800's? What teacher talks about the valiant father who decided to run away to the countryside and start a family instead of taking a stand for or against the slave trade? These people are not in textbooks, they are not remembered. They are forgotten not for what they did, but for what they didn't do. It is true that the opposite of love is not hate, it is apathy.
It makes me wonder what good is the person who risks greatly climbing mountains when all that is to be gained is ego, what lasting influence will a brave father have if he runs away from real world issues? Time and again, average North Americans chose apathy if it means that they can continue pursuing their version of the illusive American Dream.
If injustice is a threat, I wonder what kind of life-style we are trying to justify.