Government and Music and Poetry and Politics and Social Issues12 Jan 2020 07:34 pm

The Discontented Rule the World 8/31/13

A contented man seldom worries
A contented man does not hate
A contented woman needs no ambition
A contented woman is able to wait

The Discontented Rule the World

The contented man savors conversation
The contented man enjoys the day
The contented woman is open to pleasure
The contented woman finds joy in play

The discontented rule the world
The discontented abuse the world
The discontented cause us pain
The discontented mock the sane

My contentment nestled in delight
My contentment welling up inside
My contentment whispered in my sigh
My contentment permeates my life

The discontented are always plotting
contesting, battling and forever defeating
The discontented are not to be trusted
they’ll never own enough even when you’re busted

The discontented rule the world
The discontented abuse the world
The contented have no urge to rule

This song depicts the radical difference between those who are contented from those who are discontented. Those who are content find enjoyment in time alone as well as time spent with others. The contented feel good in their own skin and find pleasure in both arduous activity and leisurely play. The contented appreciate the gifts and talents of others and derive satisfaction from engaging in the hobbies and interests which infuse their lives with meaning.

The discontented never feel whole or complete. Their constant dissatisfaction fosters a need to control and alter their environment as well as control and micromanage everyone with whom they come into contact. No matter how much they have or accumulate, the discontented are never sated or satisfied. They are threatened by anyone else’s joys and accomplishments and spend the bulk of their existence battling, defeating, and taking from others whatever they can.

When making the sale, getting the vote, or winning is paramount, then the end justifies the means. Lying, cheating, exaggerating become the norm. Look at our national politicians, it is just lie after lie. How does the atmosphere of dishonesty and never ending acquisition not create discontentedness? How would contentedness not put one at a disadvantage when ruthless self-serving greed and avarice is the very means and measure of success in our culture?

Our consumer based economy encourages a perpetual state of discontentedness, a constant state of wanting more. This fosters a kind of ambition in which acquisition and getting the largest piece of the pie becomes an urgent and endless process. This obsessive form of ambition uses all resources, defeats all opponents, and respects no boundaries.

We are taught that little lies and exaggerations are just a necessary and expected element of successful commerce and human relationships. We are all expected to market ourselves by highlighting our strengths and minimizing our weaknesses through spin and omission.

We use make-up, fashion, social media, and pop culture as ways to assist us in making the best impression and seducing our target audience by often suppressing, masking, or denying what we feel is our true nature.

A contented person is able to share the bounty of the planet and not feel a need to go to war to acquire more land, resources, or to own and dominate everything and everyone.

Despite the constant (24/7) bombardment of the capitalistic/imperialistic message to ruthlessly acquire all one can to maximize one’s wealth and success, the vast majority of people give in to their humane nature thereby putting a ceiling on their financial ambitions. At some point one’s desires to be good, kind, and have authentic connection with others limits their avarice and thirst for power, allowing them to find a relatively acceptable spot in the great hierarchy of success, wealth, and power.

The very last line of the song, “the contented have no urge to rule”, is of the utmost importance. Contented people do not have the desire to control, or the thirst for power and ambition which is the forte of the discontented.

Our modern PR and propaganda narratives try to convince us that it is built into human nature to be self-serving, greedy, ambitious, and competitive. While that may be true, it is also true that we are social beings who like to love and be loved, to be good, and to do good things.

The fight for survival does exist and all life needs to kill and consume food in order to attain life sustaining energy. Yet, we also live on a flourishing and abundant planet teeming with life. Organic life has learned how to survive in a way that also supports and maintains plenitude.

Our modern narratives acknowledge and overemphasize the fight for survival and generally ignore the other reality of life on planet earth. The unquenchable thirst for constant expansion and endless domination is not natural or beneficial. It is a misleading and very detrimental perspective and leads to the kind of rampant discontentedness which, if played fully out, results in catastrophic destruction of organic life and the human spirit.

Contentedness leads towards coexistence, teamwork, and intimacy while a constant state of discontent goes towards dominance and an exhaustion of all resources. A generally contended person is neither impractical or a utopian ideal.

While our society foments discontentment, it does not mean that this is the case for all functional human societies. Just as humans have adapted to nature throughout the eons, so too have they adapted to the general tenets and goals of the communities and societies in which they live.

Whenever the vision of a more equitable and egalitarian society is put forth, the purveyors of greed and discontentedness state that people always want more and that ambition and competition are essential elements of human nature.

Again the defenders and apologists of our explosive capitalistic society are gifted at half-truths, deception, exaggeration, and perceptual management. While it is difficult to argue against the soundness of the observation that ambition and competition are pretty essential to our nature, the conclusions and spin that the narrative contain is quite dubious.

Throughout history there have been many tribes, communities, and societies that have had a different definition of success than ours. A society whose dominant values and goals centered around qualities and traits such as honor, generosity, sacrifice, truth, and friendliness would define success according to those values.

As an example, an ambitious person in a society that defines success in terms of being the most honorable or generous is not likely to hoard, deceive, or exploit people. A person acting in such self-serving fashion would be shunned and vilified and treated as a criminal. Rather than being supported, rewarded, and praised they would be treated as toxic and dangerous.

The desire to win at all costs is often central to our goal of financial and social success in a discontented capitalistic society. When winning and domination is the sole measure of success, then cheating, deceiving, and destroying one’s competitors becomes both necessary and laudable.

While our exploitive and dominating culture often equates competition with the dog-eat-dog reality of the fight for survival, competition can often be a vehicle to hone and improve our skills and the skills and abilities of others.

An example from my childhood should help illustrate this point. I have always loved sports and found great enjoyment in playing and competing. I enjoyed competing against myself through identifying personal bests as well as performing well against others.

My greatest love was basketball and my best childhood friend and I would spend much of the fall and winter playing one-on-one games to one hundred points. We both benefitted greatly from the competition and took pride in the growth of both of our games throughout the years.

We used each other to become better players and would often give each other tips on how better to guard one of our pet moves or how to improve the mechanics of each other’s game (dribbling, rebounding position, shot form, etc.). It seems even at a very early age we realized that improvements in our overall skills was greatly dependent on the level of competition.

When playing with others we tried to remain steadfast in our intention to have our competition continue to improve, thereby, challenging us to become better and maximize our abilities. While I have many fond memories of the joys of healthy competition with him and many others I have competed with against throughout the years, I also have had numerous encounters with people whose need to win at all costs stifled the amount of joy I gleaned through the competition.

Before closing I’d like to tend to one more misperception of contentedness that often gets a lot of air time in our culture, that a contented person lacks motivation and contributes nothing to society. In theory, it is logical to assume that contented people could lack initiative. Yet in practice, isolated inactive people are usually depressed not content.

We are wired to be social animals and content people are usually highly engaged and are drawn towards pleasure and intimacy. A toddler when feeling comfortable and at ease spends the bulk of his time exploring, developing basic motor and perceptual skills, and feeling connected with their environment.

Contentedness does not lead to inertia, but to finding joy and pleasure in what we do, think, and say. A generally content person finds joy in being alive and doing things. The major difference is that the discontented person, seldom, if ever gets satiated and satisfied finding no endpoint in their need to acquire, control, and perpetually consume. The discontented have little or no concern for the long term health and quality of life for others and the planet.

In sum, we live in society where owners and producers exaggerate, deceive, and seduce consumers into purchasing products (most of which are not necessary) in order to maximize profits. The entire system is based on the fostering and maintenance of a generalized sense of discontent for both the general consumer as well as the financial elite.

We also live on a lush and abundant planet teeming with life which belies the message of scarcity that lies at the base of our need to hoard. If the fight for survival were the superior truth, then life on the planet would never have become so abundant and the population of humans would never have gotten into the millions, let alone the billions.

The above paragraph demonstrates that both nature and human nature are inherently plentiful and we should not let our society brainwash us into believing otherwise. The discontented rule the world, but only because our society’s values are currently skewed that way.

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