“Living is easy with eyes closed.” –John Lennon
In my English class today, we had to discuss the response to a thought-provoking idea: why are people becoming happier? When we first saw this question, other students chortled from their high-horses at the simplicity of the answer: life is just better. But I laughed for a different reason, being that I didn’t believe the quote.
Where was this study taken? My school or people in the real world? Because from my point of view, the world is not becoming happier. We have more social issues and disasters and wars and death than ever before. I never thought of myself as the person to be overly emotional and motherly, yet I still weep for the suffering people and the people who are too ignorant to notice this devastation.
Whether the media or our parents are at fault, it doesn’t matter. The bottom line is that our generation ignores these terrible crimes against humanity. It is pathetic that only 1/20 people would even be able to tell me one valid current event.
But before I fall into this ignorant category right with them, let’s look at their perspective. They simply don’t care because it doesn’t affect them and they couldn’t do anything about it even if they wanted too. I get that, I really do, but it doesn’t mean I want to accept it. We should educate instead of accepting ignorance. If we were to educate, maybe we would get a better answer to why we’re happier: we choose to cut out sadness when it’s unnecessary.
We ignore sad situations because the pain they entail is overwhelming, but we must imagine being on the other side. Imagine being the one ignored in your darkest hour on a clock that never ticks, frozen, alone. That recipe, my friends, is intelligence, a little empathy and a dash of perspective.
“Why do you have to be a nonconformist like everybody else?” -James Thurber
I don’t understand our generation. We’ve all heard the term “hipster” and know it means the kids who are just way too cool to associate. But I question the validity of the competition in the first place. I catch glimpses of people my age grappling for the most maturity, caring the least, being the coolest, more intelligent, etc. But if we’re advocating to be ourselves, then why do we struggle towards the same goal? I see it every day; the battle not only with others but within ourselves to become this person that defies all societal norms. Pop culture’s influence became so terrible for us that to compensate, we have pushed ourselves to become “different.” The problem lies within the essence of this goal. We are still aiming to be something, so we lose sight of ourselves. Everyone is different, everyone is unique; we mustn’t force upon ourselves this image of what we should be. Our current status of overcompensation to not fit in is nearly as appalling as the previous push to fit in.
I liken this to a story. My art teacher had been discussing his younger art students. He had a challenge for them one day. They had to scatter themselves about the room and sketch an image of their interpretation of their personality. They were not allowed to look at anyone else’s. He had fantastic results full of color and life and true individuality. His later class of kids the same age had a different challenge. The students stayed in their seats next to their friends and had the same assignment. My teacher saw that the pictures and colors were similar, yet the projects were more extreme. Where there was a flower in the first class, there was a meadow of intricate daisies in the second.
The dilemma of the lack of eccentricity is alarming, but we also look to the idea that competition is our world now. And to fall into the category of optimist, maybe competition will lead to enhanced products. To fall into the category of pessimist, maybe competition will lead to a hostile human race. Or to even fall into the category of realist, maybe competition destines this beautiful world to dull monotony.