Our Stressful Lives
Since the start of the industrial revolution, the life of the average American was changed forever. This was a direct effect of the use of the clock in the workplace. The implementation of the clock in the workplace completely revolutionized the lives of the common man. Work started to be measured in terms of minutes and seconds and not the termination of a task. Due to the extreme change in the life of the common man, people became extremely stressed and stopped interacting with their fellow man.
Living in a society, such as the U.S. where it seems that your work is never truly finished, we will continue to be stressed. Due to the fact that we lead such stressful lives, we rarely take the time to genuinely interact with our neighbors. Therefore, Rebecca Solnit argues that natural disasters are the only true way for us to leave from this stressful world, entering the state of nature in which we realize the truly important things in life, such as bonding with your community. In her essay, The Uses of Natural Disaster, talking about the effects of natural disasters, she says, “They [commoners] enjoy the disruption not only of the barriers that normally separate them from their neighbors but also of their own grinding self absorption.” (2) In our current lives we are so self-absorbed; we consistently feel stressed, forgetting to spend time with the people in our lives. Additionally she goes on to explain that the immediate aftermath society created after a natural disaster is one of the few instances in which we are actually capable of enjoying life, relaxing and cooperating with our fellow man to create a better society. Which raises the question; if we are so discontent in our current situation, filled with stress, why do we not simply change the way in which live, instead of relying on natural disasters to teach us to value the little things in life?
I think the answer is that we have been trained to focus so much on the materialistic things in life, that it is impossible to revert back to our old ways. People would love to stop working so hard and take a second to enjoy the little things, but then there would be no one to pay for their designer clothes or cell phone bill. Solnit notes that, “Americans work more hours now than anyone else in the industrialized world…the production of civil society is a work of love, indeed the work that many of us desire most.” (7) However, I would argue that this is not the world most of us desire. Looking at my own life, I am constantly faced with the pressure of completing assignments, applying for jobs and making sure I am constantly working to ensure a better future for myself. In talking to many of my peers, they also experience this same type of life, one they are constantly complaining of. Solnit says, “Disaster makes it clear that our interdependence is not only an inescapable fact but a fact worth celebrating.” (7) As a society, we will most likely never return to a time when we simply enjoy life without looking to how it will affect our futures, but hopefully we can at least realize the importance of spending time our fellow man without the occurrence of a natural disaster.