I Am Free…?

October 9, 2010 § 5 Comments

Till at last the child’s mind is these suggestions, and the sum of the suggestions is the child’s mind. And not the child’s mind only. The adult’s mind too-all his life long. The mind that judges and desire and decides-made up of these suggestions. But all these suggestions are our suggestions… Suggestions from the State.” – Aldous Huxley, Brave New World, Ch. 2

Every time I drive into the city, I am struck by the incredible number of billboards that line the roads as I drive into the downtown core. Once upon a time I was able to observe to beautiful lake to my right, but now that view is blocked by a cluster of waterfront condos that have turned the public space into corporate profit. Now my eyes are drawn to the left, to the wonderful billboards that educate me on where I’m lacking in my life: how imperfect my body necessarily is, how behind the times all my current electronics are, how much TV I’m missing, and the things I must buy in order to correct all of these problems that are keeping me from my true happiness and satisfaction.

I am constantly bombarded by advertising wherever I go and there seems to be no escape. Everything – everything – can be made into an ad. I often don’t know what to do with myself when I’m in urban centres because my mind is overloaded with these messages that make me feel that the magic of life is in what I buy. I wonder what it’ll be like as these centres expand and if there will truly be places to escape. I wonder what this constant bombardment is doing to my brain: Do I make proper choices or am I fooled into doing what I’m being told to do and fooling myself into thinking I have real control over what I do?

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§ 5 Responses to I Am Free…?

  • Asma says:

    I can totally relate to the image. I know that clothing and fashion trends dictate my sense of freedom to a great degree. I wish I could shake that but how? I often tell myself that I wish what I know and what I contribute would outweigh any other impositions on my sense of self. But I don’t think its that simple. I think that my discipline in approaching material things has to change. Meaning that ads and trends etc will probably always get to me but I’ll have to take a more disciplined approach to how I spend my money…


    • MuslimAct says:

      I believe that much of the problem is due to mindless spending: we don’t think enough about *why* we desire certain material things, only that we want them. I’ve begun to question every single purchase, really thinking about whether or not I really need what I buy (including food), and what function the thing has in my life. It sounds a bit obsessive, but it’s a step to better spending and life habits and hopefully I won’t have to obsess so much later on when I’ve succeeded in making the shift toward a better life direction. I’ve found that a lot of that spending has to do with finding something to look forward to – when I buy new things I feel happier for a few moments or hours. It’s a very shallow purpose and a superficial happiness, and I know now that I need to look elsewhere for that sense of happiness and fulfillment.

      You should check out the blog on the 100-thing challenge. Here is a description of the project from the blog:

      “The 100 Thing Challenge is a worldwide grass-roots movement in which people are limiting their material possessions in order to free up physical and mental and spiritual space. People who were once “stuck in stuff” are empowered to live joyful and thoughtful lives.”


      It seems like a tough challenge, but I think many of us could do it if we really wanted to, and would find it to be an incredibly freeing experience.

  • Asma says:

    Quote on this topic:

    Somebody who only reads newspapers and at best books of contemporary authors looks to me like an extremely near-sighted person who scorns eyeglasses. He is completely dependent on the prejudices and fashions of his times, since he never gets to see or hear anything else. And what a person thinks on his own without being stimulated by the thoughts and experiences of other people is even in the best case rather paltry and monotonous. There are only a few enlightened people with a lucid mind and style and with good taste within a century. What has been preserved of their work belongs among the most precious possessions of mankind. We owe it to a few writers of antiquity (Plato, Aristotle, etc.) that the people in the Middle Ages could slowly extricate themselves from the superstitions and ignorance that had darkened life for more than half a millennium. Nothing is more needed to overcome the modernist’s snobbishness.

    (Albert Einstein, 1954)

    • MuslimAct says:

      These days the standard has been lowered: television creates the ‘near-sighted’ and those who read the newspapers and books of the time, even though they are completely dependent on current prejudices and fashions, are considered the enlightened!

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