Some of my critics will love to point out that I don’t have a “real job” and that I’m only able to stay alive because I am “leeching” off the taxpayers of my country. To which I respond, “Let’s see you fight through a mental illness for twenty years that no one can understand and some even deny exists and then you tell me how much of a leech and a cancer on society I am.” I have had people who I previously thought were my friends tell me I’m “wasting my life” not working some minimum wage drudgery because it’s the “useful”, “honorable”, and “manly” thing to do. I have had former friends tell me my blogging about mental illness is “a waste of time.” Needless to say such short sighted jerks I no longer keep in contact with.
Who gets to define what is honorable and useful to begin with? I don’t remember getting to vote on such ideas. By what right do now former friends get to tell me I am wasting my life and time blogging about living with a mental illness? I can illustrate what living with a mental illness is like. Many who are mentally ill are unable to articulate what living with it is like. It’s a lonely existence. It’s a turbulent existence. It is a horrible feeling knowing I will never be able to attempt to achieve my dreams. It is terrible knowing I will never have a family. It sucks knowing that through no fault of my own I’m always going to be on the fringes of society. And it scares me that I’m always going to be in poor health and probably die at a younger age than most people. The public at large needs to know what life is like for the forgotten mentally ill people. Many mentally ill people rotate in and out of jail because they aren’t getting the kind of treatment they need. Many mentally ill people are homeless and not by choice. Some, like myself, have to live on the outside of society looking in because we are not accepted by society as a whole. It can be a very dreary and dark existence. I don’t wish the ups and downs of mental illness on anyone, not even my worst enemies.
Why is paid drudge work considered honorable yet unpaid volunteer work, such as what I do with this blog, isn’t? Why do I have to work as a janitor or a convenience store clerk to “earn my keep?” As easily as we can grow food, build shelters, and harvest energy anymore, we don’t necessarily need what economists call ‘full employment.’ We don’t need several layers of bureaucracy or managers of managers or ‘inspectors of inspectors’ as Buckminister Fuller put it many years ago.
We don’t have 90 percent of our workforce on farms or factories like we did during the Industrial Revolution because we have machines and scientific processes that can grow crops and make goods far better than we could in bygone years. I am convinced that holding on the antiquated and obsolete idea that everyone has to have a job is actually hurting us as a society and holding us back as a species. Besides, when I was working I heard my coworkers and bosses complain and whine about how much they hated their jobs. It seems to me that everyone enjoys complaining about how much they hate their jobs. Hating your job, it seems to me, is more American than apple pie, the Stars and Stripes, or baseball. I never understood why normal people took pride in their misery and anger. That doesn’t seem mentally balanced at all to me.
If there is a point to this post, it’s that maybe we as developed nations should seriously consider letting machines and automation take over as much drudgery work as possible, tax the workings of said machines and automations, and just give people a regular stipend just for being citizens of a post industrial nation. Pretty much just free people up from the idea of having to have a repetitive and boring job just to eat and pay rent. These boring and repetitive jobs should have been outsourced to machines and automations a long time ago. And they will be assigned to the machines eventually. No politician can prevent the automation revolution that is already underway.
How many kids grow up dreaming of being convenience store clerks, working at Wal Mart, or working on an assembly line? No, kids grow up dreaming of being things like astronauts, artists, scientists, explorers, performers, etc. It’s when we start telling these kids they need to ‘quit dreaming’ or ‘get a real job’ that they stop striving for the stars and quit fulfilling their potential. And I think that telling these kids to kill their dreams to do something just for the money is immoral and monstrous.
In closing, the next time you hear some supposedly wise grown up tell a kid or young adult that they need to get a real job or work for money, just remember that the most important job in the world doesn’t pay a dime of money to any of it’s workers. That job is, of course, parenthood.