“Earn a living.”
“Get a job.”
Odds are that you have heard these statements before. As an adult, we don’t need anyone to tell us these things. We tell ourselves. But there was a time when each of us heard these ideas for the first time. Do you remember?
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Perhaps you heard it after you were asked, “What do you want to do when you grow up?” as if you weren’t something already. You might have responded “I want to play with horses,” or “I’d like to travel to the moon,” or maybe even “I want to help reduce the suffering in the world.” If you were young enough, your adult companions might have admired at your youthful innocence and purity. But if you were close to becoming an adult, the response was probably something like, “That’s nice but you need to be practical. You’re going to have to get a job to earn a living.”
And so we trade in our dreams of healing animals to become a plastic surgeon, dreams of surfing the open oceans to become an investment banker, dreams of simply being in harmony with our environment for the relentless push of doing something to earn a living.
You may feel the urge to stop reading because you know where I am headed with this. I am stoking a wound inside all of us living in Western society – the time each of us realized that either directly or indirectly, we were going to have to support ourselves by selling something to someone in order to survive. I know it hurts. I have the wound too.
This wound hurts even more because of its ramifications. Think about it. The reason some people do not have food to eat, the reason there is no cure for the ebola virus, the reason why we recycle fashion and design machines to break down just fast enough not to piss off the customer is because every time we do we enable someone else to “earn a living.” But when do we stop to ask the critical question and, more importantly, come to the natural conclusion that we simply don’t need everyone to “earn a living” anymore?
Think about the activities performed by our ancestors and people living tribal cultures. When they were not playing or acting leisurely, nearly everyone would be engaged in activities that were directly related to the survival of the group with food production being the primary focus. Surely, with all our modern technological advances, we should be able to accomplish what our ancestors were able to – meeting the basic human needs for all – with far more ease.