I see, all the time, young people desperately attempting to be successful with their lives. What amazes me about this whole fiasco is that most people don’t even know what life is. Correction, people think they understand it. Many attach concepts to life, some meaning, in order to justify this mad dash to make a mark. “Man has for himself created false concepts about himself,” said the wise and wonderful Karl Marx, decades ago. I couldn’t agree with him more. Human beings, conscious of themselves, that is, conscious that they breath, walk, talk and think, have been so overcome with these facts that to explain them has sent them into a frenzy. What is our meaning? What is our purpose? Why are we here?
I see so many young people throwing themselves away because they are commanded to be successful. Commanded by a higher being, school, church or parent, ordered, by fear of the ultimate societal horror, to become an “achiever.” It’s amazing that we can have found such a solid foundation to existence when we don’t even know what existence is. So righteous and virtuous, so divine is the concept of achievement that we have been blinded by it. So eager are we to fill our time with something purposeful we forget what existence is.
The societal horror I am talking about is failure. It is the presupposition in human understanding of human. The measurement of our existence is summed up in that seven-letter word. We as being creatures are determined on whether or not we have succeeded or failed in life.
God, one will say, is the purpose of life. Because of him we exist, and we exist for him. That is, we exist to serve him. What the church will have us believe is that god created us and gave us consciousness so that we can worship him. Even that in it self is absurd. Some higher being was so lonely in the expanse of his own creations that he needed to create some lesser being to tell him how wonderful he is. Why? If I create a cheese sandwich do I demand that it worships me?
What is achievement? Well, it all comes back to the idea of worshipping. Achievement is defined by your position within society, for example, if you go to university and become a doctor you have done pretty damn good with yourself and therefore you have “achieved.” If you become a millionaire then generally, you have been successful. If you are a famous actor then you have done well for yourself and become an achieving member of society. How do you understand this? How is this sense of achievement defined to you? The logical answer is society. Which to an extent it is. But how do you interpret what society teaches you to start with…your parents.
When a child is born they are dependent on the person who created them. Sometimes this isn’t the case. But generally, people who create children usually take care of them. A child, being an unsophisticated lump of flesh has no way of fending for itself. It must be fed, changed, washed, winded etc in order to stay alive. Children get older, but the dependence rarely changes except the ways in which they are dependent. Children are forced by the very nature of being a child to be dependent on people who have experienced the world around them and interpreted it already. As the child gets older the need to understand the world around them becomes more intense. The need to define yourself becomes the purpose of your existence. Parents have the control here, they, knowingly or unknowingly effect their children. How could they not? These beings have been so dependent on their help that their word is like gold. So much connection and bonding they have towards them that what ever the parent say is like scripture. If you tell your child you expect them to achieve, if you tell them that in order to be a good functioning human they must be successful, they must get a degree, they must get a job, get married, they will believe it. They will believe that this is the right way to be. Just as many times children who have racists parents turn out to be racist. They will accept it as fact. Of course people rebel. It is our natural urge. Our parents are authority figures and it is only natural that we should attempt to assert our independence against that authority as with any authority. But that’s all it is, a natural urge to reject authority, it is not a dismissal of their parents opinion. We stifle children’s independence and so when they attempt to be independent they cannot. They have no independence to assert. They run away form home, they dress in provocative ways in attempt to regain control of themselves, but ultimately they depend on their parents both for physical sustenance and emotional reassurance.
This puts parents into a position of god. Parents tell their children that they must achieve, which society has defined for whatever reason as important. This is then interpreted threw the adult to the child. In a huge cycle it is them who interpret the world to their children and it is then their children who must deal with that interpretation. Even when, on the majority of occasions the child does not want to accept that interpretation we force them to feel guilty about that decision, we tell them that they are not old enough to decide, that we are the parents and that they must respect our wishes. Parents, like the church, force their children to worship them. Like god who turns his children into being creatures dependent on his love and will, dependent on his command and definition, the parent turns their children into being creatures, dependent on their love and will. Dependent on their command and definition.
We are taught to worship our parents, worship god and we are told by doing this we will find some meaning in our lives. That if we pay attention and follow the commands of parent and church we will be happy, we will be defined, and most importantly, we will be achievers. By accepting this we give into the concept, the ideal of achievement. We submit to its power and are subjugated to the authority of parent and of church, we allow our independence to be squashed by the persistent search for betterment.
Achievement is the eternal quest. The desperation. The need, the justification for our lives. Achievement is, above anything else, a human concept. It's a dream. A pointless continuation of worship. The will of another upon another. The authority of "maturity" and of Christ...So what is failure? It is the opposite of all of this. If achievement is worship and authority then failure is condemnation and rebelliousness. If achievement is the ideal of society then failure is the rejection of that. To fail is to turn your back on societies preconditioning and say that you will not submit to it, you will not give into the desperation. If achievement is the stifling of independence, failure is independence embraced. If achievement is a dream then failure is reality. If achievement is a false concept then failure is truth. Failure is the embodiment of free will. It is the true and righteous act of rebellion, and to rebel against achievement is to reject the very foundations of a society established to serve the interests of judgement and greed.