A central theme in the American experiment was striving for liberty and freedom. A vital component of this was the departure from the Monarchy and the Aristocratic society in favor of a Meritocracy. The deeper dimension of this new aspiration was the promise of discovering the royal aspect of human life inside each person’s pursuit of higher expression and opportunity. This journey was in large part abandoned or left incomplete, and the societal vacuum created by doing away with aristocracy was filled with “Celebritocracy”.
Too many people give up living their lives and celebrating its meaning and significance. Instead they obsess over the soap opera dramas of celebrity madness, which is fed by media frenzy. Why are we surrounded by a culture of celebrity obsession and voyeurism? What is this insatiable hysteria? Why do people feel so distanced from themselves that they substitute focusing on what they want to change in their own life with a voyeuristic attachment to the quasi details of the lives of celebrities?
There are many explanations and theories but underneath it all there is an epidemic of loneliness, insecurity and confusion. Yes, I know, celebrity is what sells. Celebrity romances, breakups, scandals and sex intrigues get ratings. Especially when it is supported by a bi-polar swing from the Emmy awards to what Hollywood actress lost her custody battle this week. Is this really what society is about?
There is a great fear in many people of discovering that they might be empty on the inside, that there is no core certainty and strength. The fear is that perhaps who they are – is not who they want to be, and the celebrity craziness provides the needed distraction of thinking about someone else. If our talk around the water cooler is about the latest star gossip than it isn’t about our own discoveries or insights and therefore involves no risk and also no gain.
The social experiment of doing away with royalty and aristocracy in favor of meritocracy is only half done. The next leg up toward the maturation of the societal organism is to liberate itself from the need for a culture of idol worship. This doesn’t appear to be an exclusively American obsession but rather a growing global desire to passively ‘live’ through those who appear larger than life on the big screen and on the internet. Society’s next developmental threshold is to transcend the mental and emotional age of 12-14, when perhaps the stage of hero worship was an open ended exploration of the options and opportunities that were ahead of us. The next cultural evolution is to help people take their lives back, to discover the royal nature of human life in the qualities of courage, beauty, honor, goodness and stewardship and to embark on their own exploration into what it means to be alive and participating in the greatest adventure of all, their own story.
© Aviv Shahar
Aviv Shahar :: Oct.22.2007 ::
America, Reflections ::
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