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LeRoy: Seven deadly virtues

From the Left
By Brendan LeRoy

Yesterday I awoke from a terrible nightmare; a frightening reality depicting the future of humankind.

In my nightmare, I was on a street alongside many people yet I did not hear a single voice. All of the people were staring at these tiny computers as they walked. Some were transcribing messages of no significance while others were scrolling through news feeds so rapidly they could not possibly read everything. Some people were listening to the most peculiar of music. The songs repeated meaningless noises and pointless words that conveyed messages of love fantasies, promiscuity and the consumption of intoxicants.

In my nightmare vendors of products advertised material items with underlying, nonsensical words. The best part of waking up was not being greeted by a new day, but by a particular brand of coffee. The state of humanity was so dire that being a good neighbor was akin to a car insurance company. Drinking a dark-colored, sweetened carcinogen is how one opens happiness. The strange pictures and words permeated the culture so deeply that before a toddler could even speak, the child could recognize corporate logos.

In my nightmare, thousands of colorful pictures and commercials depicted unachievable human qualities to prey on the population’s insecurities. People starved themselves and regurgitated their food because corporations told them they were fat. Corporations said they were not beautiful, and people would ask doctors to slice their faces and vacuum fat cells from their stomachs and toes. The corporations wanted to eliminate happiness. They feared if people felt happy, they may not buy products like encapsulated coffee bean extraction.

In my nightmare, the government created positive connotations to ambiguous words relating to the imaginary rights they did not have. The population loved these words but could not define them. The population admired concepts like ‘freedom,’ but their government incarcerated more than any other country, imprisoned and killed their minorities for non-violent crimes; they lost their right to privacy, their media was controlled by six people and their government silently began eliminating free trials.

In my nightmare, the unquestionable supremacy of a democratic government was echoed throughout this society, yet their own elections were meaningless. All of their voting districts were rigged to elect predetermined candidates and passed laws to disenfranchise the poor. The wealthy leaders rendered elections worthless through emotional rhetoric and theatrical debates by means of televisions, computers, billboards, yard signs and radios. The government created words for the public to cherish but be unable to define: justice, opportunity, liberty, equality. The government forced children to mindlessly chant these ambiguous words through a declaration of patriotism to a cloth every morning. The children would say the declaration so many times that they never question their government’s moral integrity when their department of war justifies a decade of unceasing aggression from a single domestic attack by a terrorist group their government created.

In my nightmare, the nation lived in an age of unprecedented information, but no one knew anything. The population learned all information by the will of six individuals who intentionally falsified reality. The conflicting information was so great that each manipulated reality hardened hatred and radicalized individuals. The owners of the media promoted the concept of individualism and uniqueness so that the unequivocal belief in falsehoods became paramount and the population would reject truth when confronted by it.

In my nightmare, people tirelessly worked harder to make more money in order to buy non-essential material goods. The young no longer pursued higher education to become philosophers and scholars; they went to universities to amass monetary wealth — the only prosperity they could comprehend. In order to satisfy their society’s glorification of individualism they worked unceasingly to the point of losing meaningful human connections; their communities collapsed, family structures decomposed and demonized the act of compassion. Their ability to choose from 100 separate types of cereal ensured the people of their prosperity but failed to recognize the growing ruin of their souls. They did not realize their incomprehensible collection of material goods could never fulfill the innate desires craved by the human being.

In my nightmare the population had a holiday celebrating the last supper before the genocide of the indigenous population. The holiday initiated a month — long worship of their money, and all the things it could buy. The cultural practice was to consume a massive meal, which preceded twenty-four hours of non-stop shopping in order to purchase electronics and toys. The holiday ended celebrating the birth of their God, which was designed to prepare children for the reality of their life to come. Children are told of a magical and mystical man who generously provides children with any consumer product asked for, produced by the diligent, obedient and happy laborers they one day will become. This was called the happiest time of year.

In my nightmare, the corporations raped the Earth of its resources to produce an endless supply of material goods. They cut down half of the world’s forests, used up all of the water, killed tens of thousands of animals, mined all of the coal and drilled all of the oil, but no one cared. The temperatures became hotter, their weather was more violent, the oceans were rising, glaciers were melting and ice sheets were collapsing, but no one cared. The population refused to acknowledge the scientists’ warnings that the disregard for the planet was leading to imminent disaster, but no one cared. They could never surrender their gluttony to save the Earth.

We were strangled by excessive desires for material items, money, food, fame, power and sex, while we envied all who had more than us. We were selfish; we manipulated, hoarded, stole and wasted all we consumed. All the while, we admired this society so greatly that we harbored hatred and contempt toward all others.

Upon returning to full consciousness, I recognized the elements of this nightmare had exhibited an astonishing familiarity. I was overcome with dread upon the realization this nightmare had not arisen from sleep.​

Brendan LeRoy is a junior majoring in linguistics.

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