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The 11th Hour : Reflections on the Documentary and My Life

November 16, 2007

I have lived in San Francisco for about 4 months now. Time has been flying by, and although I feel like I have done a lot since I have been here, when I reflect back on time it seems like I have only been here a week. There is a feeling of anxiousness that is building up in my body. I have become irritable to the point where it even shocks me. All the beauty I saw in this city when I first moved here has been replaced by the sight of bums and odor or urine. The other day I decided to go watch “The 11th Hour” at the Red Vic on Haight Street. It has finally put in perspective why these strange emotions have been bubbling up deep inside my soul.

First, let me recap the basic premise of the documentary for you (I will not give anything away). It started as your typical “global warming” type film, but halfway through it was able to zoom out beyond this problem to a birds eye view on what is happening in our world. Global warming is only a symptom of a much greater problem. The problem in how our society is structured and the values we hold dear. There was the usual buzzwords like sustainability, freedom, equality etc.  However, there was something different about this film in that it spoke directly to me and answered my question of why there is something always wrong.

I went to college seeking enlightenment. I wasn’t sure exactly what I was searching for, but I learned to better understand how our world works. We live in a society that is driven by the growth of the economy. Although, this has been the model that has brought great inventions and advances for us as species, it has also drained the natural world and left us people working 50 hours a week. Why do we work so much? The reason is because we are compelled to buy. It is odd working in marketing because I know that I am helping create demand for products.

I recently purchased a car and realized why someone might want a “sports car.” The truth is no one NEEDS a sports car. They are loud, expensive, and dangerous. The reason people want them is because of the marketing behind cars and the story that was sold with every new make and model. Consumerism drains our souls. We work all day to come home and consume media that convinces us to buy more things. We decide we need those things so we work more and much harder to attain them. But, it never ends as we continue to want more. We are like hamsters chasing a story that is sold to us.  What does this have to do with me?

I moved to San Francisco to enjoy life. I joined a demanding startup where 50 hours are the norm. By the time I am done with my work week I am exhausted. I spend my weekend running errands and buying things. Sprinkle in there a few excursions here and there a bar or two and a dance club. When you tally it all up most of my time has been spent working. No wonder I have been feeling so weird of late.

Some might say that it is my own fault, but the truth is that is the one thing that college never explained to me. I asked one of my economics professors when does the economy stop growing, to which he had no answer. No one to this day has shown me what life can be outside of our society. The few glimpses I have seen (mostly on Haight) are not exactly what I would call a good alternative. I am referencing the panhandlers, bums, and druggies who hang out by Golden Gate.

Part of the human story is to have a society and culture which is able to reinvent itself. Our current system has played out its role. There are too many symptoms, from leadership corruption, to pollution, to inequality to be ignored. Every generation has books and knew ways of thought that help shape the world for the better one step at a time. From Machiavelli to Rousseau, people have been able to shape the course of humanity.

There will be a book or a movement that will drastically change the way things are going now.

Note: I apologize for the poorly written piece as it is late, I have work to do, but I just can’t get myself to do it. Hopefully putting my thought into this ether we call the internet will help me get back to working on helping people sell stuff.

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