I am reading Jonathan Haidt’s article in The Atlantic, The Coddling of the American Mind, and I am wondering whether the hypersensitivity to emotional wellbeing Haidt describes can be somewhat attributed to our associating gun violence to mental illness over the last several decades. Mental illnesses are real but I think are diminished when we start tossing out the term as being the cause to all our ills. Perhaps it would not be an issue if we actually did something about mental illness, but I think we mostly talk about it. Our unwillingness to actually address problems and instead simply focus on symptoms is teaching generations of people that symptoms are actually the problems when they are not.
What Haidt does not address in the article is how hypercapitalism, which is the practice in the United States of prioritizing wealth over everything, contributes to the problem. We have many religions in the United States, but I think capitalism is the one that rules them all. The religion of capitalism preaches that there are to be no restraints on one’s ability to be wealthy and thus it teaches that the ends justify the means.
Manipulating emotions may be the number one tool of generating wealth in the United States. Marketing and advertising is emotional manipulation for the purpose of selling products, the buying of which produces wealth. Advertising is all about coveting that which another has and thus has existed ever since humans became aware of their surroundings. Technology continually optimizes advertising and today’s targeted and viral ads are extremely effective at making us covet.
No popular church nor religion in the United States truly teaches the dangers of wealth. Who preaches and teaches enough is better than more? Heck, the “ministers” of many of the most well known churches in the United States are themselves extremely wealthy. Yet, Christianity claims association to Jesus who plainly taught of these dangers. The consequence is that we live in a society that actually encourages the practice of one profiting off the suffering of another.
Children are immersed practically from the moment of birth in emotions, and our religions teach them how to feel better. The pursuit of happiness is a treadmill for the more and the idea that there is enough for all to be happy is considered un-American. We are frogs floating in warm pot of water and the temperature is increasing toward death.