This was always a worry about the American experiment in capitalist liberal democracy. The pace of change, the ethos of individualism, the relentless dehumanization that capitalism abets, the constant moving and disruption, combined with a relatively small government and the absence of official religion, risked the construction of an overly atomized society, where everyone has to create his or her own meaning, and everyone feels alone. [emphasis mine]
— Read on nymag.com/intelligencer/2018/02/americas-opioid-epidemic.html
One of my long-time observational asides is that, despite being made to be makers, humans in my culture will go a long way to click into someone else’s making rather than make their own. It’s the “problem” with beautifully flexible software, the “problem” with the collapse of social (or majority) religion in the US… without a default for one’s autopilot to kick into, one slides instead into nothing rather than exert the (possibly minimal) effort to pull together something. “Why doesn’t that teacher just tell us the goddamned answer?!” said a classmate when we were both 15. Because the answer wasn’t the point, but she wasn’t interested. She didn’t want to make her own.
Toward the beginning of the article, the author notes that opioids plug into the places our brain connects hormones of community and connectedness. He describes a chemically hermetic emotional bubble: as if you were bathed in a warm, supporting, loving world, without having to manage (or find!) all those variables. The creepily perfect anti-substance for a society that, certainly in my lifetime, has splintered so many times over that we may be heading past atomized and hurtling toward quark status.
Like a lot of the things I can see, I have no earthly idea what to do about this. Beyond “doing” my own choices, that is, which I at core made a long time ago — I made my Pascalian wager on Christianity, and mystic experiences notwithstanding would so wager again rather than leave myself a shard on the ground.
I’m not going to pretend my eventual book on theology+poetry is an answer, either, though it’s not going to deflect me from making one rather than making some socially just act of healing. What I do may end up not having a larger point, but it’s persistently mine to do.
So in a way I regret bringing this up at all, this fruit of pouring cold rain outdoors and a tension-headache exposed in removing said tension mixing with idle reading (rather than the final essay suite I thought I might work on). Yet I’d rather write than not.
Which, as it turns out, is me making. First meaning, and then a sort of community as I share with you. Maybe you’ll go make some new meaning, and weave more community. Preferably in person; I hear there’s more oxytocin that way.