I’ve found a new treat.

It’s a highly creative magazine called Adbusters. I admit that five years ago, I likely wouldn’t have even taken this magazine off the rack. Now I find myself browsing it every time I go to the library.

So what is it?

Their website is called “Culturejammers Headquarters”, and all that they do is aimed to look critically at Western culture. Browse even one issue, and you’ll see them to be anti-materialism, anti-HUGE-corporation (McDonald’s and Nike are among their biggest targets), anti-tobacco, anti-alcohol, anti-pornography, anti-war, and more.

These are often to folks who organize or support annual events like “TV Turnoff Week” and “Buy Nothing Day“.

Their tones are often cynical, even sarcastic. But much of it resonates with me and little of it strikes me as inappropriate

It’s been one of the more stimulating things I’ve come across lately.

A recent issue contained a “visual essay” entitled “The Existential Divide”. It’s an image-filled scan of the last 100 years. Portions of it are very powerful.

As an obvious disclaimer, I question the use of a suicide bomber as an illustration of something noble (near the end), but I didn’t want to butcher the article and I can seem SOME value in the comparison, so I’ve included it.

Some of the words scattered through it are these…

Progress > Freedom >> Yes.

Free at last…?

A passionate struggle for freedom is deeply embedded in the history of the western world. It still inspires us today. And it still inspires oppressed people everywhere. Freedom is our great meta-meme, the crowning jewel of our civilization…

But lately, in our own back yard, freedom has taken a perverse, hyper-individualistic turn.

We now drink more, do more drugs, live more promiscuously, spend more money, use up more resources, create more waste, and deliberately flaunt our wealth, power, and sexuality more than any other culture on earth.

When a modest, pious man living in a poor village a world away looks at us, what does he see?

While 79% of university entrants in 1970 said their goal in life was to develop ‘a meaningful philosophy of life,’ by 2005, 75% defined their life’s objective as ‘being very well off financially.’

What happened?

Have we found total freedom, or absolute disconnect?

Are we becoming more liberated, or just increasingly self-centered and alienated?

What, really, are our moral, cultural, and spiritual foundations now?

We kill ourselves slowly, by eating too much or too little, becoming fat, or anorexic, or diabetic. Physically and psychologically we whither away in our culture of collective self-absorption and material sloth. And our boundless, insatiable greed now threatens to drag the entire planet down with us.

Meanwhile, in our eyes, the Islamist suicide bomber has come to epitomize ‘the terrorist’, a modern savage, a psychopathic degenerate utterly disconnected from any redeeming social or moral values. Yet, in fact, this ‘other’ is a man whose life revolves around the mosque, daily prayer, restrained dress, moderate fasting, a tight-knit family and community. When pushed to the limit, a committed Muslim may decide to sacrifice his own life, his own body, for what he sees as a greater social and spiritual good. Which one of us in the West will do this now?

This is the existential divide.

1 thought on “Freedom

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