Faustian

It’s amazing to me that in American society we take the notion of mortgaging our future happiness for short-term gain or pleasure as a cultural touchstone; a given practice to which strict adherence is mandatory.

“Of course you’re supposed to mortgage your future via debt and contractual agreements–that’s how the monetary wheels continue to get the grease and spin-on!”

You might hear some version of this statement repeated a dozen times a day depending on where you live and the type of work that you might find yourself forced to do.  The narrative there being that in order to continue to make money, you need to swear a financial blood-oath to those that wield money.

People captivated by the spell will kneel before the golden altar of the Almighty Dollar and loosen-up their jaws and hips, because its clergy are well versed in the ways of persuasion and intimidation.  They’re so good at it that they can have them singing hallelujah at the height of their ability in praise of the supposed “virtues” of economic enslavement.

Why is this possible?  Why is this kind of behavior condoned or even “a thing”?  Because, of course, “money is power”.

“Greed is good”, as the Gordon Gecko lookalikes ambling their way through the throng will repeat to themselves.  Ambling to where exactly?  To their ivory towers, expensive chariots, and private jets?  More likely toward a precipice whose existence they will decry and deny even as they take the tumble.

“It’s just a market contraction!  It’ll bounce back!  No risk, no reward!”

And so-on and so-forth, even though the bones and bodies littering the base of the chasm bear a striking resemblance to their future occupants.  The well-to-do are not the only ones occupying the jagged floor of that space; merely the most visible.  Lost among the sea of beige, black, and navy business suits are the bodies of those whose visibility is far harder to judge: the homeowner whose mortgage became worthless when the market fell apart, the soon-to-be-retiree who bet their meager life-savings on the bond market for the promise of a better retirement a decade-on, the young couple who found the fine print of their credit card more damning than the sordid details of their mutual affairs.

Knowing full-well the risks of debtorship and that doing work that we hate for money we can’t say no to is tantamount to financial prostitution and extortion: why continue to participate and enable the system to continue to exploit others?

Refusing to engage in practices that exacerbate debtorship may make us apostates, but if the price of true freedom is isolation and ostracism, then I pay it gladly.  I would rather live a life free of worry and filled with experience than one marred, scarred, and filled with disregard.  Better to live under one’s own power and empower others than accept a Faustian exchange.

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