Neil Ross

Brisbane, Australia

I love anything that is unusual, unique, or just plain odd, and that’s the sort of image I try to capture. I’m so far from...

Our Insanity

Madness is rare in individuals – but in groups, political parties, nations, and eras it’s the rule. ~Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil, 1886.

I have heard of Nietzsche but must confess I am not familiar with his work. His statement though rings true with me and my own conclusions are that we, as a species, have gone INSANE! With all our knowledge, scientific know-how, technology and so-called sophistication in this modern age, we marvel at our achievements but in reality have become disassociated, disillusioned, disoriented, discontent. We are by nature selfish, exploitative and cruel, and harbour this childish ‘head-in-the-sand’ notion that we can take and do whatever we want without consequence, most often with corporate, bureaucratic and/or legislative endorsement under the guise of ‘national interests’. What bullshit, and if we collectively continue to stick our heads in the sand it’s obvious which part of our anatomy is going to cop it! Over-consumption of resources, environmental vandalism, blatant commercialization and consumerism, governments married to corporations and justice systems that dispense anything but justice, secret agendas, fucked-up priorities and a greedy value system are destroying us and the planet, but still we maintain this destructive and ultimately suicidal course. We are reaching critical mass, and fast!

It’s my belief that lust for power, wealth, status, and bloated egos are prisons of the mind, materialism the ball and chain. I don’t think you could find more impoverished roads to happiness or personal fulfillment, but this is what our society encourages. We strive for success, but at what cost? And please, someone, define success. Is it really about the things we own, what we control or how much we earn? There are those that will argue “money makes the world go round”, and in a free market economy that’s a basic truth, but others will argue “money is the root of all evil”, and there’s truth in that also. But is money in itself really evil? More likely it’s the insatiable greed for money (amongst other things) that’s the root of all evil, and that greed is at the very heart of our woes; overt, selfish, toxic greed. It’s the cancer of our species and the cause of our insanity, and it will be our undoing. To quote Buddha: “that craving is the cause of suffering”, and that for me is the absolute truth so you’ll be hard-pressed to convince me otherwise.

The whole ‘Gordon Gekko – greed is good’* mentality just doesn’t wash, because the manifestations of greed are what we are dealing with today and it’s anything but good. From the onset of the Global Financial Crisis (GFC), the cause of which is complex but the outcome obvious, Wall Street went crying ‘cap-in-hand’ to the US federal government expecting a bailout, and those responsible for the current EU debt crisis where gross incompetence and widespread corruption has driven economies to their knees, are they any different? The greedy few getting too greedy and when it backfires, they then beg assistance from those they’ve betrayed and trampled without bearing any personal cost themselves. Across the globe parasites like this are playing ‘casino’ capitalism… with our lives and money no less, and then expect the house to cover their debts? Tell that one to your bank manager next time you’re dealt a losing hand and see how far you get. Give these greedy bastards lead boots and swimming lessons, not golden parachutes. Corrupted by power and poisoned by greed, the consequences of their immoral and criminal behaviour will be felt for many years to come, but when the dust finally settles I doubt that many, if any, will be prosecuted and convicted, and if by chance they are it will merely be a token gesture disproportionate to the crimes committed and havoc caused. You certainly won’t find them standing with the masses on the unemployment line or waiting patiently at the soup kitchen for a meal, unlike the countless millions they’ve left ruined in their wake who have no option but to pick up the pieces. If there’s one thing life has taught me, that is never reward bad behaviour, so karma be theirs and when karma bites it bites hard, and always in the most vulnerable of places. In my book that is called ‘natural justice’ in accordance with ‘natural law’. There are no bailouts here, no passing the buck, no inequalities, nowhere to hide. The blame paradigm doesn’t exist in natural law, nor does revenge, only personal responsibility and accountability where those responsible pay! That sounds fair.

For any system to be sustainable it must achieve equilibrium, the condition of a system where all competing influences are balanced. Without balance the system will inevitably fail and that’s exactly what we’re dealing with here. I’ve mentioned the GFC and EU debt crisis simply because they are current events very much in the public eye and prime examples of political and economic failure. The system is flawed, it is corrupt, and it is unsustainable in its current form. It is not achieving equilibrium and there are those taking advantage of it, be they individuals, corporations or governments, serving their own selfish interests at the expense of the many. Profit before people, winning at all cost, greed is good… are catch-cries of an insane system that is parasitic by nature and driven by greed, having lost all sense of humanity and integrity, and thus fails to sustain us. It can’t even sustain itself, otherwise stimulus packages, bailouts and critical last-minute reforms (which have been much avoided I might add) would not be required. If it was a sick animal you’d have it euthanized. The most immoral, nay evil behaviour of all is that of the international banking sector which lends vast amounts of money to developing nations, knowing all-too-well they’ll be hard-pressed to repay the principal loans let alone the exorbitantly usurious rates of interest, and when they default that gives these institutions license to strip these countries bare of all their assets and natural resources, most often plunging them into ruin, sometimes even famine and civil war. The banks simply will not cancel these debts and would rather people die than to post negative returns to shareholders or forgo paying themselves outrageously astronomical salaries for ‘a job well done!’ Tell me I’m wrong. Tell me this isn’t happening. Tell me there aren’t countless millions in Africa, Asia, Latin America and elsewhere that are suffering incredible hardships even though their economies may be booming, but absolutely nothing filters down to the people on the street where they live in chaos, and rampant inflation puts the most basic of commodities and services beyond their reach. Failed infrastructure, unemployment, abject poverty and military juntas are the order of the day, and when one country becomes a spent force they then move on to the next as if there were an infinite supply of countries to harvest. Talk about rape and pillage! This is not the modern age, it’s just the dark ages revisited, and the price of human life is worth no more now than it was back then, not to these people. Profit before people, remember? Even in the developed world we are all ripe for the picking and nearly all of us are being stripped bare, but the day will come when there’s nothing left to pick, and that day is soon. Only very recently the United States, the world’s ‘engine’ economy, also the world’s most debt-ridden nation, almost defaulted on its loans, and had it done so the global economy would have come crashing down around us, and institutions around the world that have caused so much misery to so many would have ended up in the gutter with the rest of us, just like those in the developing nations. I am no economist so I don’t know how they avoided it, but in this case there was way too much to lose so I’m guessing those at the big end of town must have come to some compromise… for their own self-preservation no doubt, but that’s certainly not a consideration they’ve shown anyone else. Those in or with immense power have a lot to answer for, because the consequences of their heinous actions are plain for all to see and confirms they are nothing less than the devil personified!

When I was at school I remember a classmate asking “Why would a parasite kill it’s host? That’s insane!”, and thinking about it now, a parasite killing it’s host is the ultimate definition of insanity, particularly when there’s no other host available, and on so many levels that is now the reality we face. On a much larger scale, look at the state of our planet with it’s delicate ecosystems and finite resources, and specifically our relationship with it, then ask yourself “do we contribute any benefits or are we simply feeding off our host without preservation or restoration?” Unfortunately, we as individuals are all guilty because we all interact with the ravenous and exploitative human system at some point, and until we collectively accept responsibility by adopting sustainable practices and make ethical choices based upon an honourable and humane set of values, the outcome will be a catastrophic global collapse that transcends mere economics and politics, and we all will indeed pay! Nature itself will see to it personally.

As for the common folk, I’m sure that most are so self-absorbed they’re oblivious to this or feel powerless to speak out and instigate change, but look around and you’ll see disillusioned people living lives of quiet desperation, barely hanging on by their fingernails (emotionally, financially, etc.), but divorcing themselves from this reality whilst trying to fill a void, living beyond reasonable means and chasing a mirage. Time-starved, debt-ridden, stressed-out, unhappy and fearful, they’re blinded by the illusion of prosperity but are in truth living lifestyles that are unsustainable and unfulfilling, constantly looking outside themselves for validation and gratification. There’s a lyric in the song ‘Liontamer’ by the UK band Faithless that sums it up beautifully: ‘If you place a thing into the center of your life that lacks the power to nourish, it will eventually poison everything that you are and destroy you’. Words worth pondering because that is exactly what we are doing. Brainwashed by the capitalist system, our society’s avaricious thirst can never be quenched because its glass is always half empty, and like a chronic addiction to hard drugs, the things we lust after are the very same things that will destroy us. Shattered dreams, shattered homes and communities, and shattered lives. We are broken, and this is a nightmare. ((((( WAKE UP )))))

*From the 1987 movie Wall Street.

NB: Regarding this journal, I will not hesitate to lay the boot in and speak my mind, particularly when it comes to cruelty, greed and injustice, but it is not my intention to incite a riot nor am I expecting anyone to support my views. They are mine and mine alone, but I do encourage everyone to have their say. If you don’t share my sentiments then share your own and write your own journal. Frank and open discussion is always a good start to solving any problem in order to achieve a positive outcome. One thing I haven’t mentioned in this journal is the resilience of the human ‘spirit’. As is usually the case, we give our very best when things are at their very worst, so if we can unite for the ‘common’ good then there may be hope for us yet. That’s something I would like to write about in the future.

PS: On a much gentler note, I’d like to backtrack a bit and offer my definition of ‘success’. Some may think I’m naive when I say this but I gauge success by the measure of someone’s heart, by their acts of kindness, by their willingness to serve and ability to nourish others. Successful people know how to nurture, inspire and empower, they don’t degrade or exploit. They create, not destroy. Imagine if you can a world that was fueled by love, compassion and honour, where these were the hallmarks of success and the only currency you carried was generosity. Try to look beyond a person’s vocation, their material assets and social status, and they will look very different. These are but mere distractions that mask the true self and you need good eyes to see beyond this illusion, to see the individual as they really are. Believe me, most are lacking and have very little to offer. Through odd circumstances, I chose to walk away from the stresses of corporate life many years ago and now work at a very humble wage-earning job. I lead a very simple life and live within my means, but most importantly, I am satisfied and happy! How many people can honestly say that?

Journal Comments

  • Norma-jean Morrison
  • Neil Ross