It’s all the selfish bastards out there ruining the world. If I were in charge, if I had any power to change things, the world would be a different place. No more homelessness, no more poverty. Unfortunately, everything is run by a handful of greedy, power-hungry individuals and corporations, and I’m just a regular Joe. All I can do is to look after myself and my family, maybe give a few dollars here and there to charity. At least I vote NDP, and I do buy organic sometimes.

Sound familiar? It does to me, anyway. The excuses I give myself for remaining detached. Too easy, isn’t it? What am I afraid of? What have I got to lose by standing up and making some real noise, making some real contribution to society that goes beyond a few hours per year of volunteer work and signing the odd petition? What is it that I get from this society, this evil status quo, that convinces me that it’s okay to accept the suffering and anonymous deaths of those who live outside my everyday mental radar – the people who live half way across the world or in the streets outside my windows? Why do I continue to ignore all the evil that supports my incredibly privileged lifestyle, and yet still manage to feel hard done by every time I have to pay taxes or wait in line at a restaurant?

On a personal level, why do we continue doing jobs that are unfulfilling? Why do I keep sucking up to my boss, hiding my contempt, angling for promotion and making all my blatant manipulation and shallow use of others seem okay by calling it “networking”? What am I so addicted to? What are you addicted to? Bollywood films? Italian operas? Japanese surf music? Shopping malls? Single malt scotches? Hugo Boss? GICs? Pretty young things with glittery fingernails and tattoos between the shoulder blades? Do you collect DVD’s, vintage motorcycles, expensive writing paper, rare books? What do you do to feed your taste for truffle oils and aged vinegars? Do you misrepresent investment information? Conduct weapons research? Fudge expense accounts? Overcharge for orthodontics? Did you marry for money? Would you? What would any of us do to protect the way we live, the things that bring us pleasure, the pretty pictures we have of ourselves?

What do you do to shut down your mind and to keep yourself from asking all of these questions?