Pencil Rules

Ink is only semi-permanent.

Adrian Eaton

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Culture is a set of rules written in pencil.

Though it feels entirely unchangeable, it’s always changing.

And we change it, just by existing.

Whether or not ideological idiosyncrasies are codified into law or scribbled in a newspaper, cultural norms are not as permanent as they seem.

We’re currently in the thick of “hustle culture.” Everyone wants to become a billionaire. Art in the past showed how money can’t buy love. Art today presents money as love. This new culture has snowballed into seriously damaging environmental, social, and economic policies. But we can change it.

Every day we wake up, we have to do something with our time. What we do every day contributes to the direction society is moving. By blindly participating in the “status quo” we allow ourselves, our friends, families, neighbors, coworkers, and strangers to drift closer and closer to a neoliberal dystopia. There, we’ll find a flatlined minimum wage, private health insurance, record-setting heat waves, hurricanes, tsunamis, typhoons, blizzards, food shortages, and an unconcerned capitalist class who overfunds private police forces to protect their property instead of sharing the wealth.

Neoliberalism started as an ideology by rich people, for rich people. But today we’re all complicit. We read lists that constantly track the richest people in the world. We write articles that advocate against the well-being of the working class. We scorn people for spending money on entertainment instead of investing it in some high-yield account like a “smart person” would. We’ve all silently agreed that money is the end-all-be-all.

Massive cultural change starts with the small step of changing how we spend our time. Today, tomorrow, next week, how can we resist the pull towards premature death?

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