**The terms West & Westerner will be used here to describe Western Civilization of the 21st Century (Canada, England, Germany, USA, Australia, etc.)
Why is it that the average Westerner is more depressed and more likely to commit suicide than the average Sub-Saharan?
Why is that no Native Americans ran from their tribes to join the European settlers but many Europeans fled their countrymen to join the Natives in the colonial age?
Why do people like Robin Williams, Chester Bennington, and Anthony Bourdain choose to end their lives despite their great success?
If you understand the world through a materialist philosophy, you’d think it impossible that any human could ever be surrounded by wealth and know unhappiness.
How can anyone suffer when all their basic needs are more than satisfied?
How can anyone be unhappy when their every desire can be indulged?
I think the answer lies in something our brave new society has forgotten about: meaning.
We live in a world that has decided to reexamine everything and make up new values: religion, gender roles, the food chain, economic activity, sexual differences, historical context, dating habits, diets, fitness, responsibility, how to live, self-improvement, the role of the individual, the role of the state, etc.
Nothing is sacred anymore, few things actually forbidden.
If you want to do something, you can do it.
No one is going to really stop you (unless you’re breaking some law or offending someone’s sensibilities).
The world is available for the taking.
There are more opportunities for success than ever before,
And yet the West suffers.
We have more people on pharmaceuticals, more people imprisoned, more people killing themselves, more people checking out through urban exile or drugs than anywhere else.
We have entire generations working for the weekend as if that’s an admirable goal.
Our idols preach the gospel of material possessions, of being on top of the latest trends, of the irrelevance of anything “socially constructed”, of rejecting any value that was drawn up in our past whilst failing to live in the present.
The quality of a person’s car and watch are how we measure the status of that person, not the quality of their character or the consequences of their actions.
We think more about what other’s think than about what they end up doing.
We have people piling up massive debt to get degrees in subjects that bore them to tears because that’s what someone else decided they should do.
We have created buffets of hedonistic pleasure (dating apps) and yet, people feel more alone than ever.
Our lower-class lives much better than most kings and emperors have, we have all but eradicated early childhood deaths, we’ve made some pandemics disappear entirely, and still, we despair.
We have more choices than anyone else has ever had to make and we feel less free than ever before.
In a world of convenience and ease, where we have more than we could ever need, we lack the one thing we can’t do without; a struggle.
Just like how a tree can’t bear its own weight if it never is bent by the wind, we can’t deal with existence unless we are first broken.
Our muscles work that way: you must tear a muscle so that it can repair itself into a stronger muscle.
Our minds also work that way: you suffer in ignorance before suffering to learn so that you can be strong in knowing.
Beliefs too: we first have an idea before it gets confronted with reality and we synthesize a new belief that can now jive with the reality we encountered.
If you’re one of these unhappy people I’ve been talking about, take a good hard look at your life.
Do you have goals? Do you have something you’re working on achieving? Is there an end-state to the work you’re doing?
Chances are, you have no goals, nothing you’re set on achieving, no end-state to your life defined, no victory screen to work towards.
I know this from my own experience.
When I dropped out of CEGEP (Quebec’s equivalent to graduate school), I had nothing.
No goals, no motivations, no end in sight.
I lived in a hedonistic manner, living only to satisfy my needs, fucking my way into feeling something, anything and drowning out the world with weed.
I was depressed and in the midsts of existential dread.
I felt so bad I even consulted a Doctor who promptly prescribed me anti-depressants which only made me feel worse.
All those helpless feelings went away the second I gave myself objectives: do more with your days, get a body I could be proud of, establish myself as the man I knew I could be, build an empire I can be proud of, plant trees under whose shade I shall never rest.
It wasn’t easy and I’ll never pretend it is, not for a second.
It is, however, the most meaningful struggle you can ever partake in.
What is a struggle you’re proud to have overcome?
What struggle are you currently facing?
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