A Life Worth Living
I want to be clear here — I have never, and would never consider suicide. I think that suicide does more harm to those around a person than that person likely recognizes during whatever trauma they may be experiencing at that time. However, sometimes I genuinely wish I had never been born because we have made the basic act of existing on this planet so difficult that we don’t even have the time we need to fully appreciate being alive. That — for me — is what I find the hardest to cope with on a daily basis lately.
Basic essentials are either inaccessible or unaffordable at best, including (but not limited to): housing, food, energy, transportation, medical costs, communication, education etc. This is partly due to the systematic and intentional defunding/underfunding and privatization of vital public services so that corporations and their owners can get rich off of our basic human needs. Nobody should have to go into debt in order to stay (or just be) alive on this planet.
I was born into a world dominated by a capitalist economy, which means that I was born into a world where some people have wealth, while others do not. Inequality is built into the system by which we live. This means that I am forced to participate in wage labour so that I can earn money to meet my basic needs — but for many people, their wages do not cover all these essentials, leaving many of us forced into two (or more) jobs, and/or the need to take on “side-hustles” just to stay alive. Corporations get to profit through the exploitation of our labour, yet many of us can’t even afford to put a roof over our heads, or have a safe and warm place to spend a night.
By creating a world that revolves around the accumulation of wealth, we have created a world where people can be excluded from participation when the cost of living becomes too high. When wealth becomes the sole purpose of our existence, then the cost of living instantly becomes a barrier to entry for the basic act of living a dignified life.
Despite the incredible scientific and technological advancements we have — and continue — to achieve, the amount of time we are required to spend working remains the same (or has increased). All our technology allows us to do is to be more productive so that the owners of capital can extract more wealth from our labour. Our innovations are hampered by the need to be profitable or they won’t get made. We could be developing new tools which could help alleviate the suffering of all (or even some) people, but instead we are satisfied with a marginally improved iPhone camera every year.
I’m exhausted by continually having to witness the lengths at which capitalism will go to ensure that wealth continues to flow. Not only does it limit our time available to enjoy life, but it actively destroys the habitability of our planet — ruining the lives of future generations before they have even been born yet. The fossil fuel industry — along with its partners in the automotive, air travel, and plastics industries — are directly responsible for the production of the majority of GHG emissions which now threaten humanity’s future on Earth. Climate change, habitat destruction, and biodiversity loss are all the direct result of capitalist expansion. Capitalism views our natural world solely as resources for human exploitation, rather than key components in a connected global ecosystem that we rely on for our survival.
What I have written here doesn’t even begin to acknowledge the vast collection of other injustices (both social and environmental) we witness as a result of capitalism’s imperialist march around the globe. Military conflict, Indigenous genocide, the theft of Indigenous land, systemic racism and police (state sanctioned) violence towards BIPOC communities, religious persecution, as well as the ongoing suppression of female, LGBTQ+, and non-binary rights to exist as equal as human beings. If you’re an able-bodied, cis-hetero white man with european colonial ancestry who wants to make money, I’m not surprised if you think that the world wasn’t such a bad place — but your ignorance of these injustices doesn’t negate their existence.
As someone who IS an able-bodied, cis-hetero white man with european colonial ancestry living on Indigenous Treaty lands — I recognize the privilege inherent to my circumstances. I have willingly educated myself on these issues to better understand my place in history so that I can be an ally in the struggle against oppression wherever it may occur. To paraphrase Karl Marx: “We make our own history, but not under conditions of our own choosing” — I didn’t choose to be born into this world, but now I have to exist within it, so I might as well fight for change. My utopian future is a healthy, sustainable society that grants everyone the right to a dignified existence, where basic needs are met, and people have the free time they need to truly appreciate their finite time on this planet. Despite how tiring it can be to remain engaged while witnessing the violence we are subject to on a daily basis, this struggle is worthwhile if it helps to achieve a future where daily life isn’t so hard on people.