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It’s No Measure of Health To be Adjusted to a Profoundly Sick Society (transcript)
So I believe that is a Krishnamurti quote. “It is no measure of health to be well-adjusted to a profoundly sick society.” If you’re well-adjusted, like, adjusted to what? You know? You’re able to go along with program. You’re able to make yourself study hard, and get good grades, take the AP classes, sign up for extra-curriculars, to make a good resume so that you can get into the good college, where you study hard some more. and you play by the rules. And you’re okay with that. You’re adjusted to it. You’re a creature of that system, and that way of being. Which is fine if we agree that that system is the system that we should have. And that the world you’re participating in is the world that we want. And that the direction that you are helping take us is the direction that we want to go.
If you were, a, you know, a white, middle-class person in the 1950s, 1960s,1970s, it was pretty easy to believe those things, that society was basically on the right track, that science was solving our problems, that modern medicine was conquering one disease after another, that we were progressing. Life was getting better and better. Since then, it’s become harder and harder to maintain the belief that we are living in the right world.
This is something that, maybe like really sensitive, prescient people have seen this for forever. But, I believe that it began to take on a mass character… I mean, I hesitate to put a date on it… but certainly when I was a kid, it was starting to wear thin a little bit. I certainly sensed a wrongness in the world that pervaded everything. I couldn’t make myself adjust. I couldn’t make myself be well-adjusted. I could… and well-adjusted can mean going through the motions and at least complying with the explicit requirements of participation. And I couldn’t even quite do that. And a lot of people in my generation couldn’t do that, either.
So we became slackers. Or we became addicted to things. Or we became fuck-ups. Or we’d procrastinate and not study hard and get drunk, you know? Like, if you really believed in the program, you wouldn’t be getting drunk every weekend in college. Because you’d have an aim, you’d have a goal, you’d have something you cared about. The drunkenness, the addiction, the squandering of endless hours in front of video games and mindless pursuits, these are not some problem that must be overcome to make us better participants in society. These are symptoms. These would not exist if we were in a life we really cared about.
Without that aim, without that magnetic pole that directs our actions and that gives us this filter: “Ok, what am I going to do today? What makes sense?” Without that, then we are lost. Then we kind of reach for this, we reach for that. And the emptiness that we feel, we fill it up, we are driven then to fill it up with whatever can distract us from it. Or maybe we take on fake goals, substitutes for the life-aim, or the life purpose that we are really craving. Higher levels in World of Warcraft, or something like that, more points in the video game, more money, more, more, more. More of something, but not the real thing that we really want.
So whether it’s laziness, procrastination, addiction, self-sabotage, greed, materialism, all these things that we judge and say is the problem. These are the symptoms. It’s not because there is something wrong with you that you just can’t make yourself get with the program. It’s that there is something wrong with the program. So of course you don’t want to participate. Of course you get depressed and just want to withdraw. And just can’t make yourself do it. It’s not because you’re unhealthy. It’s a mutiny of the soul.
Or you get anxious. Something is wrong around here. And the authorities say, “No, no, no, everything is just fine. The problem is with you. Here are some meds.” Now, I understand that, immersed within this reality, there may be no obvious alternative to the medications that enables a person to keep going. This is a very, very hot button topic. Because many people will say that, “The meds saved me. They turned my life around. They saved me from depression.” And maybe am not qualified to pass judgment on whether or not they are universally a bad thing. But I can see what their general function is. It’s to keep people operational in the world that is given to them.
And it’s a catch-22. How do you get out of that world? What alternative do you have to simply coping with it? Simply adjusting to it?
I can’t offer a recipe for how to get out of it. But I can say that the desire to get out of it, the question of, ‘How do I get out of it?’; the prayer to be liberated from it; will be heard and will bring results, in the end.