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Wednesday, October 7, 1999
Houston, Texas
Volume 65, Issue 37

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Any meaning in the meaning of life?

By Jennifer Ihrig

Why is it naive to assume we could change our current condition? Does our condition leave nothing to be desired, or is it beyond reform? My answer to both is "yes."

Our everyday lives are saturated with a quiet desolation that is hidden behind the mask of a false friend. Our plagues are hidden behind this colorful mask of novelty and the convenience of technology.

The most terrifying of monsters is the one we hardly realize exists, a plague that seeps into the separate skins of societies before we even know its name. To be more specific: What have our lives amounted to?

In such a "global" society, I think it is necessary that I generalize a bit. So, in general, how do we live our lives? Most of us aspire to be "successful" -- we hope to be rich, we long for a family and we want to follow a seemingly safe, straight, consistent escalator to achieve these goals.

On each floor of this building we rise through, we literally purchase our rites of passage. On the first floor we buy an education, each type of which is neatly displayed and rated by scores and funding.

On the second floor, we shop for a bargain career that might offer the most rewards with the least investment: an office job with high salary and benefits or a teaching job with summers off, or maybe a profession that is more time-consuming but comes complete with high salary and prestige.

If we haven't already met one on the escalator, we'll browse for mates on the third floor. The selection seems fair: a cutie with a tight behind, average looks but a great personality and a great career, rich but old, fat but nice, etc. We continue riding to the top floor where, along with new televisions, sits a rack filled with hobbies to pursue after our retirement.

After searching our wallets and the corridors, we find we have no money left and nowhere else to go but back down.

Each of us, including myself, has been effectively socialized by institutions -- by each other -- to value the meaningless commodities of wealth, appearance and convenience. 

We are raised with values that only stratify and criticize us. We are lazy if we don't have successful careers; we are rude and inconsiderate if we speak the truth; we are naive if we hope to make a difference, but apathetic if we don't try.

I hope that my tactics don't fall through some crevice and into some stereotyped ideology or doctrine or party perspective. I have lived as a part of this society and contributed to the problem.

I only hope to open your eyes to the plague that lurks in our neat little slice of the pie.

Ihrig, 
a junior creative writing and sociology major, 
can be reached at fatfenny@hotmail.com.

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