Plastic replaces passion

I was assaulted by a question: “What are you deeply passionate about?”

Huh? The whole idea that I, or any American living in this euphoric warm glow of affluence and security, could be “deeply passionate” at all boggles my mind. Where’s the need to give any effort to being passionate?

I had to consult the dictionary to make sure I understood the question. And got confused by the possibilities. “Strong feelings, intense emotions?” Maybe, but not too likely.

“Tendencies toward anger, violence, rage?” Never. Not me. Though I see insane and uncalled-for behaviors on the roads once in a while and hear promotion of anger and hyped-up passion on some radio talk show programming. [Oh, it’s programming. We’re the ones being passionately programmed.]

The dictionary adds “powerful enthusiasm” and “sexual love or desire". Umm, oohh, ahh! Now there’s something I could consider—powerful enthusiasm.

Now I understand and see why I haven’t got it. “Enthusiasm” is dulled by repetitive acts we do daily to pay the bills, and the personal sense of “powerful” has gone undercover, as the void most of us feel when it comes to having anything like authentic power.

Do you know anyone with enthusiasm?

I could cry.

The most powerful motivations in my life, and I fully suspect in yours, are deeply buried under efforts to meet needs. Most of us don’t even know we have deep personal motivations, let alone express them passionately. We certainly wouldn’t tell anyone that we have enthusiasm for a commitment to life. Or family. Or country.

So, where’s enthusiasm gone? And what about passion? What we’ve got, from the positive side, seems more like quiet, stubborn perseverance. On the negative side, the word that comes to mind is apathy. The outward appearance is about the same and encourages and excites no one.

Do we feel good—that’s what I meant by euphoric—in the midst of all the stuff that characterizes our society? We’re so thoroughly programmed that we neglect each other and ourselves and passionately embrace … stuff. All of which eventually goes to the dumps. We are stubborn believers, persistent in our pursuit of surplus and luxury. These material equivalents of mind-numbing drugs anesthetize us to the memory of joy and sorrow, commitment and meaning. Instead of permanence, rewarding human interactions and durable quality, we promote plastic, TV and cheap disposables.

We’re close to being the disposable society. Our economy of over-production and total consumption is accelerating toward the brick wall of gizmo-filled houses and emptied lives and resources. Our social and economic process is almost incapable of altering this suicidal course. Almost … because we will have to change to survive. Our hidden passions for life will emerge as we approach the wall.

Yeah, we’ll change. Passionately! We’ve got to.