Navigating human society is not easy. I guess it’s a bit like trying to follow railroad tracks laid down by law, custom, ethics and social interaction without either getting too embedded in them, where the tracks can slow you down or even bring you to a grinding halt, or, on the other hand, flying too high above them where you lose sight of the tracks altogether and go careening off in some random direction. The ideal analogy, I suppose, (and in keeping with this extended metaphor, ) would be the Japanese High Speed Rail System where the trains hover over the track, free of friction’s drag yet held on their course by the gentle, but unyielding, force of magnetism. At this perfect distance from the track, the train, thrust forward by a powerful engine, hurtles along its path as if weightless: unimpeded, yet securely fixed on its direction, effortlessly leaning into every turn and straightway.
Now, some people find themselves weighted down by excess baggage, burdensome laws or an unfamiliarity with custom. Perhaps their skills at social interaction cause them too much friction with the rail. Perhaps they simply don’t have enough fuel or a sufficiently powerful engine to keep them moving forward at the necessary velocity. Many of these either fall off the tracks or come to a shuddering halt, Some need society’s help in getting back on track or have to be towed for a while. For most of us it’s a balancing act. Staying “on track” requires constant attention and daily effort. The journey is full of difficult, steep inclines and exhiliarating curves or descents; there are times when we can just “let go” and take advantage of a “ good head of steam” and the law of gravity to enjoy the view and simply coast. Then there are times when we have to grip firmly to the tracks and focus on just getting to the next station. There are, however,a rare few who have to deal with a different problem altogether.
In these cases, there is simply not enough weight or pressure on the train to keep it close enough to the track. The steadying influence of social discourse, mores, laws and custom – forces that keep us close to the track- can be compromised when the fuel that drives the train becomes too rich. In the hands of an inexperienced driver, the engine can deliver too much power, too much speed. Seduced by the opportunity to ignore the track and go his own way, the driver gives in to this more powerful force and allows the train to diverge from the set tracks and follow its own unchartered course. In our society, the most potent of these mega- fuels is money. Frankly, we have become so seduced by the mystique of money that there is no problem, no crime, no behavior that can not be “fixed” by money. Is it any surprise then that someone like Charlie Sheen, who used to earn over $1m a week for a few hours of work became totally unglued. The anti-gravitational pull of so much cash yanked him off the rails of the civilized discourse and sent him spinning into a universe of his own. Now he has been severed entirely from any social or professional attachments, I worry for his well-being.
Now, more than ever my friends, remember: Only Connect!