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Why am I miserable? Part One

The universe. We don't really know why we are here.

With a whole raft of statistics pointing to a more unhappy and discontented population, doctors are handing out more prescriptions for antidepressants than ever before. They are also, at long last, offering counselling therapy to those whom they feel will benefit. I want to look at the root causes of our misery, as a nation and, perhaps, as a species.

We don’t really know why we are here. We don’t know if there is a real, philosophical reason. Various religions talk about a purpose and a divine being, who created the world and everything else. However, there is no definitive proof, just as there is no definitive proof to the contrary. That is one of the wonders and mysteries of our universe.

Mankind evolved from a primitive beginning into something entirely different, both physically and mentally. We have changed our environment and our expectations. We have a highly complex social structure, with rules and regulations, as well as a system of reward and remuneration, which has encouraged us to exploit the resources of our home planet. However, our biological evolution cannot keep up with our technological one.

A population explosion. Or a Saturdays video.

A direct result of technological advances is a dramatic increase in the population, which has had a ripple effect on every aspect of our lives. With this population explosion has come a need for more technology; a never-ending spiral!

With the advent of new technology, our superstitions and beliefs have been severely eroded. Much of the wonder of our lives has gone and, in place, we have facts and scientific explanations. We have also created an entirely, unnatural environment for ourselves; with hamlets and villages being replaced by towns and cities, cart tracks and lanes with dual carriageways and motorways and an abundance of light, turning the night into day and allowing our paranoid dislike of darkness to be avoided. Our homes are now havens of technology and cleanliness, with a war on bacteria and vermin being waged every minute of every day. However, this sterility is not confined to grime: it also leaves our self-made environment devoid of the beauty we once took for granted. Green fields have been replaced with tarmac’ and concrete; trees and hills with houses, offices and shopping centres; fine country views being replaced by vast industrial constructions.

The human race is fast being replaced by a race of robot-like automatons, devoid of the dirt that formed it and propelling itself into a technological, simple future where, we will all become redundant. Our lives are becoming utterly futile, because we lack any real purpose. We don’t have to fight to feed ourselves (unless you classify the journey to the supermarket as being war-like); we don’t think about an after-life, because, increasingly, we are not convinced there is one. We prize youth, physical beauty and material wealth, because those who have a vested interest in our doing so, have made us believe that we should. Progressively, we are turning to food or other, more harmful substances to make us feel better. Young people, in particular, are highly susceptible to alcohol and drugs. Who

More people turn to drink. Where has all the fun in life gone?

can blame them? With unemployment among the young at an all-time high, no real prospects of a future, their world being destroyed, excessive controls on what they can and cannot do (despite the many new freedoms they enjoy) and with so many mixed messages, they are understandably disillusioned. Where has all the fun in life gone?

Cultures are being eroded, as people move around the globe, desperately trying to stamp their own mark on the new homes they find for themselves. This, in turn, destroys the past of the places where they settle and unrest begins to invade.

As working patterns and businesses have changed, the need for education has also changed. As freedoms have been increased, so have expectations. We have given ourselves rights and privileges, such as the right to bear children and this, itself, is being fuelled by advances in healthcare.

To support all this new technology, material wealth, population increase and longevity, takes vast and increasing amounts of energy. This energy has to come from somewhere and its production and increasing demand are beginning to cause the demise of our home; the planet we live on.

Our throwaway society demands more space to live and use for its increasing hunger. We are encroaching on land that, previously, had never been inhabited. This is destroying the other species that inhabit this planet alongside us and we do so without a thought or a care for what it is doing or how selfish it is. For the religious, it should evoke outrage that we should think and care so little for our creator’s property, but for the godless greedy, it makes no difference: their only thought is for material wealth.

Society, in general, is beginning the slow descent into oblivion; as we fail to properly educate and nurture our young, morality is either grossly over-enforced and therefore oppression takes a hold, or it is totally missing and therefore chaos ensues. War is rife, due to greed and ideological differences, as is corruption and criminality.

What we are now lacking is any meaningful purpose or direction in our lives and, just like the world economy, because we refuse to limit anything we do, we have become a runaway train, hurtling down the road of Time and becoming difficult – if not impossible – to stop.

To be continued…part 2 coming up next week…

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5 Responses to this article

  1. I think this is a really well written post Graham – you’ve hit the nail on the head. Our happiness stems from being encouraged to never be happy with what we’ve got, and that we always should strive for more material ‘stuff’. Basic human relationships and contact has certainly been eroded over the past 100 years or so. You see a lack of commitmant mirrored in the multitude of broken families living up and down the country (and the western world more generally) – people are less prepared to communicate with others and work on problems these days, as it’s often easier just to walk away. We need to start loving our fellow man and woman again, rather than worshiping the things that have been created by our fellow man and woman (i. e. inanimate technology) Good piece – I enjoyed part 2 as well.

    Adam 10th August 2012 at 8:56 am
  2. Thank you for taking the trouble to read my article and, above all, think about its true meaning. You have understood fundamentally the point I was trying to get across. Unfortunately, telling things as they are is often unwelcome, because people find it difficult to accept. You are completely correct in what you say, in particular about people loving each other. We can still live separate lives, but we can also still love and communicate with others. After all, we’re all of the same species and we share the same planet. I believe a lot of young people in particular want things to change, because it is they who are missing out.

    Thank you for your thoughtful and kind words of support. They mean a lot to me and also show that there are people who believe in the future and who want to make it better for everyone.

    Graham Dudley 10th August 2012 at 10:20 am
  3. I’m struggling with the dystopian view of the world you have presented here, I have to say, Graham. Your article (at least part one) has both an air of desperation and, dare I say it, self-indulgent sanctimony about it. You seem to be saying that we, as a race, have lost our ‘way’ as we no longer live in small villages and till the land to carve out a subsistence existence. You seem to blame technological innovation for our paucity of moral fibre – we have all become slaves to the machine. I disagree. Were it not for the technological breakthroughs that you bemoan many of us wouldn’t be here today to complain in the first place! Whilst I agree that there is a gross disparity between those who ‘have’ and those who ‘have not’ in our society, I believe that laying this inequality this at the door of technology is to miss the point and to simply put up a straw man in its place. Technology liberates more than it enslaves. The very fact that we can exchange our views on this matter and all the world can read our ideas is testament to the liberation (of ideas, at least) that new technology has given us. As I type, the irony of this isn’t lost on me 😉

    When you write “…but for the godless greedy, it makes no difference: their only thought is for material wealth.”, you show your lack of understanding and bias on the subject. I am one the ‘godless’ , as you so blithly put it, and I am certainly not greedy. I do not believe in any deity/theity/tooth fairy (ergo, I’m ‘godless’) yet I do not pursue such a hedonistic life that you seem to equate atheism with. I laugh at Monty Python and I cry when I hear Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata (now there was a guy who knew the depths of despair!) and I often give to charity. You also (if I may be so bold as to point out) make the basic logical error of equating no proof for the existence of something to carry equal weight as no proof for the non-existence of something. You cannot prove that fairies don’t exist, Graham, but I’ll wager that you don’t live your life expecting to meet one each time you venture to the bottom of your garden. Why not? Do you think it’s ‘fifty:fifty’ that fairies exist at the bottom of your garden, after all there are only two possible outcomes: they either do or they don’t. You seem to making this fallacious (some might say fatuous ) point when you write, ” However, there is no definitive proof, just as there is no definitive proof to the contrary. That is one of the wonders and mysteries of our universe.”, when talking of the existence a creator of the universe. The fact that there are two possible outcomes does not logically necessitate that there is parity between the likelihood them. Consider this, there are two outcomes for you winning the lottery (if you’ve bought a ticket, that is): you’ll either win or you won’t. Now, do you really believe that both outcomes are as likely or that the odds may be stacked in favour of one and against the other? You begin to see my point…

    Anyway, to wrap up. I believe that in the absence of the yoke of religion and Luddites life really is worth living and not the rat race that you have so bleakly painted it out to be here. I, for one, have hope for humankind! I wish you well and a more optimistic outlook.

    Mark 28th September 2012 at 6:12 pm
  4. I think you have totally missed the point. It is very difficult to write what I wanted to do in a limited article such as this and I can only thank CALM for publishing it. I did what I could to provide a balanced and understanding view of things and I think I have done. I also appreciated that it was highly controversial, but I wanted to evoke some thought.

    I do not imply that everyone who does not have a faith is necessarily greedy – and I am sorry if you took it this way. I do, though, find it deeply offensive and patronising to describe what I have written as “self-indulgent sanctimony”!! I have spent years considering this subject and it was with some considerable thought and trepidation that I wrote the article.

    Saying, also, that I “seem to be this” and “seem to be saying that” is somewhat vague; for someone with such staunch views – as well as criticisim – you appear very unsure. I have expressed the things I see (the facts – population growth etc) and hoped that some sense – and also some moderation – might prevail – that is precisely what the article is about!

    Regarding my comments on a divine creator, (this fallacious [some might say fatuous] point ) I was actually citing Professor Stephen Hawking’s thoughts on the sueject (therefore you must consider he to be fallacious and fatuous!). I was erring on the side of cautiou, as I did not wish to risk offending anyone by saying or suggesting that a divine creator did not exist. That is something I do not feel is my place to do and certainly not on the public website of a charity that does its very best to include everyone, regardless of faith as well as a number of “attributes”.

    I am also not quite as naive as you would have readers believe. I did not say or imply that “we, as a race, have lost our ‘way’ as we no longer live in small villages and till the land to carve out a subsistence existence.” Are you certain you were commenting on this article? Are you, perhaps, a politician? Your comments are extremely similar to those I would expect of one, who, when challenged over something, does whatever they can to rubbish the questioner.

    As for technology liberating more than it enslaves, what rubbish! Technology has its place and has propelled the human race into a place unimaginable to previous generations. However, look around you and see what it is doing to us and our environment! How many of us covet the latest mobile telephones, the computer games, the electric this, the electronic gadget that – and you claim we are not slaves to it? Of course we are slaves to it! We are slaves to it because those that make money out of it want and need us to be and by being so we are becoming increasingly unhappy! Listen to the news occasionally and you might see the realities of this world!

    And what is all this nonsense about fairies at the bottom of my garden and the lottery? They have absolutely no bearing whatsoever on the points I was making! In Quantum Mechanics, I don’t think your analogy “holds water” and neither does it in the sense of what I have been trying to convey.

    You also totally misunderstand – and misconstrue – my point about religion. Religion held society together in the past. However, I do not mean to imply that it was always a good thing. Many behavioural traits that religion prevented us from expressing have now been enshrined in law, because without them we would be almost lawless. My point was about constraint and moderation, not necessarily whether religion was a good or bad thing.

    I think you should look around you; perhaps remove your “rose tinted spectacles” and take a much closer look at things. However, perhaps in your world, crime doesn’t exist, neither does poverty, global warming, suicide, depression, despair and reality. You lucky, lucky man!

    I don’t enjoy the things I see and the things I have written about; I would much rather have done so from your standpoint; it keeps people happy and living in a world of fairies, Father Christmas, fairness and peace. It’s a lovely place, but I’m afraid reality isn’t like that! I am glad that you live in such a place.

    In closing, I’ll think of John Lenon’s song “Imagine”! Maybe I, too, am a “dreamer”.. they tried to suppress his writing, too! But “Perhaps, one day, I’ll join YOU”!

    Graham Dudley 3rd October 2012 at 3:37 pm
  5. You are on the right track here, but you need to take the extra step that you won’t allow yourself to.

    Matt 4th October 2014 at 9:10 pm

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