Matthew Lickona 2:45 p.m., Dec. 10
Words of Power (El Mexicano, 11/30/12 by Jacinto Faya Viesca)
The avoidance of emotional and physical suffering is the fundamental goal of every human being. This is the thesis of the German philosopher Schopenhauer. Is his claim valid? We'll see.
It is true that consumer media makes the world's richest countries happier by consuming more goods and services of all kinds? Statistical measurements by prestigious universities, anthropologists, sociologists and psychologists, indicate otherwise. Guatemala, a poor country, placed at number 10 among the happiest nations on Earth. While in Japan, Sweden and Germany, experts say their populations are only moderately happy.
What is the reason, greater wealth and greater consumption is not in equal proportion to or similar to the happiness index? Is there a psychological explanation that consumers are tired of what they consume and eagerly seek 'new' products or services?
It seems, that humans get greater satisfaction to the extent that we are looking for variation. But here is another problem: after awhile, varied consumption does not keeps up those higher levels of satisfaction, but again sink us into boredom, which induces us to new forms of different consumption.
We all know that the best seasoning of any gastronomic dish is being hungry. There is no better chef than a good appetite. Nobody enjoys a cup of cold water more than someone who is thirsty. The best bed for sleep is feeling very sleepy, etc.
Freud told us, that the two motors that most forcefully move humans are pleasure and pain. The statement is true. Only, that the society of the hyper consumer which we are living has created a new engine for the human being: comfort.
The struggle for comfort in the consumer society wins new followers and addicted futures every day. And it's that comfort, i.e., comfort, has become an impressive attraction. Comfort for rest, reduction of physical efforts, avoidance of cold or heat is highly desired. Comfort is one of the new gods of the hyper consumer society: cars that raise windows automatically to avoid the effort of our hands; foods full of salt and preservatives in already prepared foods with the only necessity to be heated in a microwave, household appliances by the hundreds, to facilitate the labor of cooking, cleaning, rest, etc. Remote controls for everything: television, illuminating parts of the house and preparing coffee.
The problem is that suddenly Freud appears to us, and unconsciously, "pleasure" as a fundamental principle in our life, bursts in and orders: "I'm tired of comfort. Comfort goes against my higher instinct". Pleasure puts aside comfort, because it is stronger. And all the immense economic burden placed in search of comfort, where is it? It is in millions of addicts who remain alive who at the same time are weary of that comfort. Nothing can be done: comfort and pleasure are absolutely irreconcilable enemies!
Here, the hyper consumer society does not give man a logical and true solution. And is does not give it, because of the story of human evolution, and to be more specific, in the last fifty thousand years, comfort was not part of the life of human beings. The human species is one of 193 species of primates and monkeys alive today. It is not that some species have come from others, but true all these 193 species come from a common trunk that existed 6 billion years ago. Throughout all these millions of years, the entire species and primates never met with comfort.
Comfort is something entirely new, emerging since the year of 1850. For humans over the past five thousand years the only thing they knew was pleasure and pain, but not comfort. Suddenly, the consumerist society that emerged in the 20th century, and increased in the last 60 years, takes unsuspecting man, convinces him that comfort and consumption will convert him into a happy being.
The Stoics of two-thousand years ago in Greece and Rome, and Schopenhauer were most accurate: by not inviting us to achieve the greatest number of pleasures, but to prevent the largest number of sufferings. For them, being happier was suffering less.
Nowadays people are going after comfort, buying all sorts of goods and services that move us away from any efforts. A Puritan current was a given in rich countries: to have to work hard, and save to earn big money. This goal is well above joy of life. In addition, we have been told since childhood, pleasures are immoral, without distinguishing its great variety.
We are caught between the fear of getting places and the goal of achieving greater comfort, we are losing the best of life. AND a fundamental question would be this: can we live a life within the morals of enjoying pleasures? The answer is clearly yes. For that reason, we should reduce our comfort in as much as it is alien to human evolution.
To eat, to drink, to rest, not be full or satiated, but hungry, thirsty and fatigued. Find more in the way of personal effort. Enter the world of pleasures that give us creativity, the arts, manual work, aiding others. But this issue will have to be analyzed in another column.<p>email@example.com twitter: @palabrasdpoder