People Are Waking Up

It's time to reject our culture's slide into narcissism.

Nylon, March 2009

People are waking up. They’re saying, Not another day! This is where I mark the line.

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They’re hungry to get involved and they’re getting involved. Their desire to change the world is shifting from wishful Monday-morning thinking into tangible action. They’re beginning to see activism not as something done at nonprofit meetings and protests, but as a way of life, a personal, spiritual choice. Ultimately, it is the choice to reject our culture’s slide into narcissism. It is a view that rejects the modern consumer philosophy that true happiness comes from personal material accumulation and self-interest. It is the realization that the joy of connecting with nature blows the joy of acquiring stuff out of the water.

We are social animals; we crave connection and community; we crave a wide, encompassing identity that connects us with all of humanity – not just our friends and family, not just our city, our country, our species – but every living being on Earth: plant, animal, human.

It is a new philosophy – and perhaps a very ancient one. It leads to the most profound and meaningful kind of happiness one could possibly experience. It adopts the happiness of others as its own … and also shares in their suffering.

You can’t buy that kind of happiness at a store. You can’t get it from beating the last level of a video game. It doesn’t come out of the end of a pipe or at the bottom of a bottle. It doesn’t come from watching sports. It doesn’t come from how you dress or what kind of car you drive. It doesn’t come from getting a college degree or a fatter paycheck. It comes directly from the final and profound realization that there are no isolated islands of “self” and “other.” We are inter-woven into everything. We are all of it.

Tim Hjersted is the director and a cofounder of Films For Action.


Audio version read by George Atherton