The Great Recession

I remember a time in my life when the gravity of the capitalistic nightmare we call America didn’t weigh down upon my shoulders. A time when I viewed life through the euphorically ignorant eyes of a child. A time when I was as light as a feather, free to drift in the peaceful winds of a suburban childhood. The days seemed to pass so slowly, and the worries of living in this dog eat dog world seemed so insignificant and far away. But as the years passed, the cold, harsh realities of life hit me in full force.

I was 10 years old when I learned that my parents were divorcing each other after 15 years of marriage. It was a cold January day, the sun was beginning it’s steady decline towards the western horizon, and I had just arrived home from school. I entered the dimly lit house and was greeted by the sight of my mother packing her belongs into her suitcases. She slowly raised her head from what she was doing and looked at me, an expression of pure angst on her face. “You’re father and I are getting a divorce, Evan. “.

I felt no sadness at the time, her words seemed to lack reality. It was as if I could not comprehend the implications of what she had just told me. In the same month that she moved out, my father got laid off from his job. My siblings and I were constantly tossed back and forth between our two parents, living at one house one week, then being ushered out to live at the other. Over the span of a few months, we had been reduced from eating delicious home cooked meals to scrounging for expired boxes of macaroni and cheese.

Years passed, and I found myself a senior in high school. I awoke one day in the early morning darkness, and sat awake in a state of deep contemplation. How had so much changed in what seemed like such a short period of time? How had so many people that I knew declined from the secure and progressive lives we had been living before to a lives of constant struggle? How could the picture perfect world that I had known before been so violently shattered and replaced by one of a much more sinister nature?

The area in which I lived had deteriorated. The once smooth roads had become rough and full of potholes and houses seemed to droop in depression, slowly decaying from the neglect of their grief stricken owners. The very air seemed to hang heavy with sorrow and nostalgia. More and more often I began to see the economic downturn weighing heavily upon the people that I knew. It was not uncommon to hear talk of people moving away, their parents losing jobs, and being put on welfare. My best friend’s mother was one such person.

The cold dagger of depression had ruthlessly been plunged into her heart. She took refuge in the warming comforts of alcohol, consistently drinking herself to the point of belligerence. She was desperately trying to drown her problems away, all the while her soul was being drained with each swig from the bottle. After much deep thought, I began to understand how the world worked. We all have dreams of living in a nice house, eating expensive food, driving a nice car, and travelling the world.

However, in order to bring those hopes to fruition, we are forced to compete with others, get a job, and advance ourselves to fit in with the workings of modern society. I realized that each and every one of us are merely components in the machine we call capitalism. We are all slaves to the system, our worth as human beings ultimately calculated in numbers and dollar signs. There is no escaping it, this is the life that we are condemned to live. I guess I finally understand what Pink Floyd means when they say “welcome to the machine”.