Excerpts are from one of my longer essays, obviously still in the works, entitled “From Homer to Homer: Striking a Balance Between Dream and Reality “. These selections are numbered for easier reference.
In times when international travel and communication are so common while tradition and old time values are disappearing, sociopolitical and geographical borders are meaningless. Nowadays the only real borders are financial ones. In my previous two articles, I attempted to push for a new definition of Iranian identity based on shared values because I felt that a definition based on geographical borders is starting to lose its meaning (with us Iranians spread all over the globe). Many did not share my concern. In this article, I am widening the focus and taking several steps back and reinterpreting everything through “business” glasses. This is a disjointed and superficial coverage of the material but a more thoughtful analysis is in the works.
1.”Dreams are customized versions of reality. When dreams came included with life, in a free package, it was certain very few would ask for a refund. In fact, I have no idea what happens to those who are given a refund.”
2.”Religion sells afterlife insurance, the dream of a wonderful afterlife; It uses very strong threats to make a sale, and so far it has been successful despite the fact that the insurance is extremely expensive and comes with no warranties whatsoever. In addition, no one is allowed to see or sample what is being purchased.”
“On top of that, one needs absolutely no qualifications or deep knowledge about this insurance to make a sale…I should note that I do maintain a strong belief in a higher power and can not simply turn my back on this incomprehensibly brilliant design right before my wide open eyes. However, I am skeptical enough not to close both eyes and act solely on faith and intuition.”
3. “Freedom sells very well. Freedom was taken out of children's story books and our most beautiful dreams…. To sell freedom, the trick is to place the frames beyond and outside the visual field. A rat is free… to run around the maze. I am allowed to say something controversial, but if no one is willing to publish my work in a visible journal or magazine, what does my freedom of speech mean? What does it mean for me and 1000 others to share a view and try to express it, if no one is listening? What is the difference between the seemingly crazy guy at the street corner, screaming that war is not the answer, and another seemingly crazy guy, the president? Answer: One of them does not have a microphone.”
“This is not too different from the concept of the glass ceiling in regards to sexism in work place. It took sometime but it has become clear that visible sexism, racism, etc, is dangerous; in fact, some people have somehow realized that they were not born slaves, nor were they born inferior to the opposite sex! A maze made entirely out of glass allows one to dream that s/he is free (a smart idea, indeed). It is only when you attempt to deviate from the norm and move in a different direction that you realize you are still imprisoned.”
4.”Psychology became popular very fast. Many became attracted to it because it was seen as a crystal ball (right out of the dreamworld). Freud and his pipe could have very well been taken out of a children's story book. His book on interpretation of dreams definitely deserves a quick browse-through.”
“That is not the state of psychology now. It is seen as a science now; however, it continues to sell dreams. It sells the concept of mental illness and then it sells the concept of a cure for an illness which never existed. In psychiatry the cure is a medication, taken by millions on a daily basis. The magical dreamy little pill, the fast-food solution to a life long dietary problem, could not exist without the concept of mental illness.”
“Mental illness is directly defined in relation to one's social functioning, specially work. For instance, if you are a heartless sales person, willingly selling a bicycle with a deficient brake to a child, you will not be labeled as mentally ill by a psychologist. Since selling bicycles fits the concept of a job, and since your manager may in fact encourage you to sell bicycles regardless of their deficiencies, you may be a valued employee. However, someone who is unable to adapt to the job market, for various reasons, will be seen as having a dysfunction and may even be prescribed antidepressants.”
“I hope readers appreciate that my bicycle example is merely a sample of a much larger problem. I am faced with many such examples on a daily basis. You can think of reality-based police programs on TV. A small physical assault is exaggerated and the person committing such an assault is stripped of their pride, and shamed, as the person is taken away in a dreamy sequence, while the heros in uniform, framed by blue and red lights, remind the viewers that crime does not pay. Viewers feel safe and are pleased that justice was served. Yeehaa!”
“What if this same person was responsible for tens of thousands of deaths and horrendous destruction? What if this same person was responsible for spending billions of dollars of other people's money on a cause which turned out to be fault? What if this same person was responsible for causing suffering and pain to millions of people? Well, if he was the president, and if that fit the job description…Yeehaa!”
“If you really enjoy assaulting and hitting people, I do have a suggestion. Join the army or better yet, become a professional football or hockey player. I hear the pay is not bad. And the hits or murders are part of the job. In fact, you may become a national hero one day. I should note that I am not criticizing individuals here, but a system that rewards certain behavior and punishes the same behavior under different circumstances, and what distinguishes the two situations is solely how much profit the system makes as a result of the behavior. I am referring to a system which rewards highschool bullies.”
5. “I do not believe that reality is generally superior to dream. They are simply two different concepts. One may be more useful than other, only depending on a person's goal at the moment. We are lucky to have been given a gift, the ability to create our own reality, a dream world where everything makes sense and we feel safe…. There is simply too much information, complexity, and horror out there, that eventually we have to simply rely on our imagination, and paint the rest of our life with closed eyes. What is essential is to be able to distinguish reality from dream. We should not buy dreams that are labeled reality nor the opposite.”
“p.s. In the reality-based version of Cinderella, she never gets to meet the prince, but escapes from the house, is started on Prozac (20 mg a day and increased to 40 mg in three months), and receives unemployment benefits. She currently lives somewhere…with her rats.”