The standard lie these days is, you can be anything you want to be if only you apply yourself. That can obviously be called malarkey (the polite term for bull shit) by any sane person but it doesn’t prevent many adults from enthusiastically telling that lie to their kids. Or from preventing the media from telling kids and other inexperienced people that Santa Claus is real and will bring them presents for being good. Nor does exposure about obvious non-sense prevent various self-aggrandizing organization from electing Popes to tell people they will go to heaven and have peace and everlasting joy if only they believe what they are told and coincidently give these authorities money. We are raised in a society called a civilization that promotes the tellers of lies to the highest positions in society. That disgusting subject could be analyzed until the last man breathes his last word but to no good end because it will ever be thus. People want to believe a good story well told by an honest looking person is true. So as the one cheek said to the other, let that pass.
Perhaps, everyone needs a higher truth to believe in so their life doesn’t blur into a meaningless series of unconnected random events. Even if they believe in little more than the Twelve Steps doorknob they can maintain a steady direction and have the feeling they are going somewhere and thus what they are doing becomes meaningful to some grander scheme of things. It doesn’t take any mental gymnastics to simply, do as you are told and don’t ask questions, as the Pope proffers in our general direction. The implication is that these higher authorities know what they are doing and therefore everything will work out all right. That, of course is ridiculous, but it keeps everyone reasonably goal oriented and productive.
In America the real organizing force compelling people to be good is – advertising. Fulfilling the social need to buy a new car, the most expensive one you can possibly hope to pay for, puts you into debt for a couple of years. That isn’t all bad because it forces you to be conscientious and go to work every day for those couple of years, just to pay off your debt. It really doesn’t matter that this car can’t get you where you need to go any better than walking — you have to have it, to show others and yourself that you are worthy. But, I am proposing having that unneeded car compels you to be a socially good person and that may be its greatest value to society. The car and other property compels you to be a good citizen.
People want to be happy and feel good about themselves and what they are doing and this need is taken advantage of by our social system by encouraging and even forcing them to live beyond their means. Their debt forces them to work and be law-abiding and obedient to all the social conventions; when they fail to live up to conventions or fall behind on their dept payments, they lose face and feel bad and so they strive to work harder and get more social approval. The end result for most people is to live just a little beyond their means and to appear a little more affluent and successful than they really are. This makes them happy because then they can look down upon those who can’t live at their level. On the Probaway – Paths to social maturity these successful people are defined as Adult, acquiring self-worth by Earning property for personal accumulation while achieving status by productive actions and lecturing other about their knowledge to enhance esteem. That is the form of goodness and happiness which is readily available to most sane people and it is to be respected by everyone. There are other things after which to strive but they are not available to everyone.
For most people to be happy means going into debt.