WHY WE STRIKE: PART 2 – THE EVOLUTIONARY IMPULSE OF DESIRE
December 29, 2007.
Now that I’ve addressed some of the reasons behind the Writer’s Strike, I’d like to explore the core belief behind complaints about the Strike- namely, that it is greedy or selfish to desire more than what one already has. I think most Americans are pretty comfortable with the idea of bettering one’s economic situation but, for many of us, the belief that prevents us from making more money or living a better life is the one that says money is somehow bad and that it is wrong to desire it. We may crave a pay increase, to be debt-free, to live without struggle, and to enjoy a life rich in all experiences, not just those arising from necessity, but how often does that actually happen? How many people do you know who are living a life of ease?
For myself, I would love the security of health insurance and preventative medical care, which I have lived without for years. I would love to pay off my astronomical student loans and my car and to be able to live in a space larger than a studio apartment. I would love to visit my family and friends who I now am too far away from to make that affordable. I would love to travel outside of my own country so I can see the world I am so curious about. I would love to buy a new pair of jeans when I need them instead of waiting while my current pair falls apart. What prevents me from having the things I need and want? My choices- to attend a private school over a state school or to be an actor instead of a businesswoman- are certainly part of that. But I have come to believe that it is not actually necessary or desirable to live with financial hardship. Money is not evil, having money is not wrong, and living a fulfilling life is nothing to sneer at.
Desire is the fuel of the Universe. Desire propels expansion and growth- on a personal, global, and cosmic level. Desire stays us in the game. Desire motivates change when it’s the hardest thing we’ve ever had to do. Desire is imagination manifesting into form. Desire keeps us alive with curiosity and excitement. The desire to become more than what one is, the desire to have more than what one has, the desire to do more than what one does- this is the stuff of evolution. Desire can, and should be, one of the most joyful aspects of human life. Without desire, where would we be as the human race or as a planet? Everything would stop, stagnate, and decay. Thankfully, even if we wanted to, it isn’t possible to halt the process of evolution.
To say that the Writer’s Strike is a selfish endeavor- that the writers should just be grateful to have what they have- is to say in effect that we should accept our lot in life and hope that it doesn’t get any worse. It is a form of treading water- attempting to stay afloat while, unavoidably, never going anywhere. Here I would like to point out that resignation is not the same as gratitude- nor is it the same as acceptance. A person can accept where they are, and be grateful for what they have, while at the same time cultivating a desire for something bigger and better. Gratitude partnered with desire is a powerful force for change. Just taking a cursory look at a partial history of desire- the Civil Rights movement, the education about AIDS and environmentalism, the space program, the peace movements opposing every war, the origins of every worker’s union- is enough to illustrate the progress that would have been impossible without the desire for something better.
Many of us were born into families who felt that it was enough to work hard and play by the rules. Money was luxurious, misunderstood, and sometimes even feared. I think it is no coincidence that the people carrying guilt and anger about money are often the people who don’t have any. Those with money understand that it affords opportunity, philanthropy, education, and FUN! God forbid we should all have any fun on our short trips around the earth. Taking an objective look- isn’t money, used wisely, a good and beneficial thing? Sure, people can misuse it and they do so all the time. Sure, the desire for money can sometimes cause people to do horrible things to other people and to the planet. But would you rather be one of those without it? One of those with no influence and no ability to change your circumstances? One of those struggling incessantly instead of living the life of your dreams?
The belief that money is bad and that I don’t deserve to have it has been one of the most stubborn core beliefs in my life. It has held me back for years. I am now starting to change it and beginning to see, ever so gradually, the evidence of that change. I want to live the biggest, boldest, most expansive life I can dream of. I want the resources to experience everything I can imagine and desire. To me, that is a life worth living.