Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Human Dichotomy

What kind of crazy messed up world do we live in where the wounded cut themselves, the lonely push people away, and the tired can't sleep? Where people struggling to live are slowly killing themselves with too much food, tobacco, alcohol and other drugs? Where medicine is a killer; Oxycontin is the biggest gateway drug to heroin addiction. Where there is more than enough food to go around, but innocent children starve to death daily because of greed. Where those who desperately want to be loved continue to settle for the empty, soul sucking opposite. Where christians cause pain rather than salvation. Where those who have been blessed choose to curse others. 

We are all in the same boat, not one of us has a leg to stand on. Our pocket change could save lives, but we still keep it in a jar. We serve our fat stupid selves first, and then we put the pennies we have left over in the box at the McDonald's cash register... and that's supposed to clean our conscience?

Does anyone else look around at get blown away by the sheer contrariety of our condition? Do we ever let our own hypocrisy sicken us? 

Our self-serving society, with it's promise of wealth and comfort, has birthed nothing but pain for not only ourselves, but for innocents all over the world. For ourselves, its in the form of depression, anxiety, addiction, complacency and a variety of mental illnesses. For the world, the pain we sow is in the form of starvation, disease and exploitation. Sure we don't have to see the kids face who makes our shoes. We don't have to see the kids who die of thirst and hunger and preventable disease... so we can live guilt free. A sale is a good thing right? Shopping at Wal-Mart is fiscally responsible right? We say we want the truth, but we don't really want the truth. The truth is we are all guilty. Blood is on all of our hands. Does this bother you? We put money in the hands of murderers, extortionists, and child abusers daily. Most of all, we put money into the greedy machine that forces it all to happen. Who is to blame? What is the source of these monstrosities? The market... the demand. Who is the demand? 

We are.

Does this make you uncomfortable? I hope your anxiety kicks in as you read this. I hope your depression flares... I hope your knee-jerk reaction to reach for a milkshake or a pill will cause you to realize that there is more to life than just you. We all need to learn that insulation is not the answer. 

I hope you can't sleep tonight.


  1. Hey my name is Mike. Im going to go through what you said. First i am one of those lonely people who push people away. People ask me if im ok, i quiely repsond "yes i am" even when deep inside im not and i am hurting. I have asked people for help and they just make things worse for me. ok enough about me.

    I do sometimes get blown away by what happen around me. How could we live in such a society where all of this happens? How has it come to this? Even today my friend was sad beyond belief bc her neighbor died and that reminded her of her grandfather that died recently. And my friends told me that she was crazy bc she was suicidal and had terrible thoughts. I got angry because how could they be so ignorant to what people go through everyday? i even told them i almost killed myself and they stared at me and said "you are kidding" and they kept going on with other conversations. how have we become blind to all of these things?

    and lastly there is a guy Jamie T. You guys may know him. Just one line he had said and it goes with a part of your post. "Maybe we are part of a bigger story than ourselves."

  2. i think the most of us are like that, doing the opposite of what should be...

    we do sort of need to wake up, as a society... there's so many people. everyone hurts. and there's probably a lot of ppl that hurt more than you...

    i like that guy jamie t. and i was thinking of the same thing he said :)

  3. It's already hard to sleep with the things happen here, kinda... U see a prosche parking near people starving, etc...

    And I think that if you can't sleep at night doesn't change anything, people have to work to change things like that...

  4. There's more to living than being alive

    Everything you said in that post is so harshly true, its amazing how everyone only thinks about themselves

    My friend once told me that when ever he has a bad day he thinks "there's three billion people on this earth, chances are one of them is having a worst day then i am" We need to think about those 3 billion others.

    "the lonely push people away"
    we all push people away. We say "I'm fine" when we are really dying on the inside, we need people.

    Thank you so much for posting this blog

  5. You're completely right and it's a harsh reality. I know I'm definitely guilty of some of the messed up things in our society. And I'm finding that all of these things are a hard cycle for me to break, especially in our society where we buy and buy or eat or do stupid things that we would not normally do, just for security or satisfaction or to escape or something like that.

    And then I get to thinking about Shane Claiborne and when he talks about humans needing and longing for community. And it makes me wonder what our society/country would look like if we really valued true community and togetherness instead of trying to do everything on our own and working for only our own personal gain.


    Btw thanks for blogging, I've been enjoying reading these

  6. Katie,
    I agree, and to add to your point, there are actually over 6 billion people on the planet, and %80 percent of them live on $10 or less a day. Double the reason to be thankful for our blessings.

    Community is key. Sometimes I wonder if we're not ultimately suffering more than some of those in developing countries... at least the ones who have family and community structures they can rely on. We're seeing families being torn apart in America faster than any other country.

  7. Matt:
    You remind me of one of my friends, always globally aware and trying to educate others on the less fortunate in the world. I applaud you for that-- there are not many that will post a blog on global awareness. However, I am not one of those people. Even through I am not entirely aware of the starving, lonely, sick people around me (I've grown up in a bubble), I believe that people should live their lives based on their wants and desires. To quote Ayn Rand, "I swear by my life, and my love of it, that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine." Yes, there are people starving and in worse situations than mine, but I don't think I should dwell on that. I should be aware of it, but not dwell on it. Call me insensitive, but if everyone looked out for each other and not for themselves, then the world would be a lot more poor than it is right now. If someone asks me to help them, I will, but I'm not going to attempt to help everyone in the world...
    Haha, why am I even telling you this? Truly, Matt, even though I disagree with you (sometimes), you have inspired me to open up (for so long I've been the reserved, quiet girl in the back of class). Your last blog on Friendship was eye-opening. Keep up the growth as a human being : )

  8. To the person above me, "V":
    Although you are right, we can't simply be a crutch for people, we must do something. The reason we have arms is so we can reach. It's not like the children being forced into prostitution have a choice to help themselves. You say,"If someone asks me to help them, I will..." If you could see the eyes of any of these people, you would understand their screams for help.

    Back to the blog. There are more slaves now than there were during the time of the Civil War. We pay our $5 for a cup of coffee while people starve. We stay inside with our technology and luxuries, disconnecting ourselves from the natural world, while millions are simply praying to see the sun come over that hill just one more time.

    The thing is, not one of us can plead purity at this point. We are the people who are standing here, volunteering to put on blinders while these lives deteriorate by the masses. Claiming ignorance is a cop-out, a cowardly act by those who refuse to accept what disaster their hands have assisted.

    We don't have time to wait for someone else to save them.
    We are the people we've been waiting for.

    This blog needed to be posted.

  9. Although I agree, we need to help others, but this help should not only be monetary, what they really need is true change, and this change only comes through Jesus Christ, and His love. If we feed someone for a month, they will still be hungry, but if we show them the love of God, and tell them about the blood of Jesus, and the grace he has abundantly poured unto us, it will last throughout eternity. It gives people hope. This is why I fully support the different organizations that go to third world countries and meet both physical and spiritual needs.

    We are all to blame for the current state of our world, and it is effed up, but we could give all we had and still not make a dent, God needs to be the center of it.

    I am not trying to push Christianity as much as it sounds, but it is the truth. Christians today are now showing the love they should today, and this love needs to be shown through money, food, meeting any need a person has, and showing them the greatest love we could ever imagine, God's.

    The one thing we need to remember is that we are all weak separately, but together have the strength to make change happen, we all need to work together and stop fighting about the small stuff, there is a great need in this world, a need that must be met. If we want to accomplish anything it must be through all of us, through prayer.

    My life is so much better than millions of other people's in this world, and I need to do more to help these people.

    I am going to quote you Matt:
    Who Needs Air:
    "I have come to the realization that life is more than what I have accomplished.
    And life is more then the realization that we have accomplished nothing at all.
    True success is so selfless so drown in the lyrics of your life
    and give up the air that you breathe.
    You don't need anything."

    Life is so much more than individuals, and more people need to realize this, and we need to realize this at a greater level of understanding, and then put it into action.

  10. V,
    I agree to a point. If everyone followed Ayn Rands ideology, then there would be no Mother Theresas, no Nelson Mandellas and no Martin Luther King Jrs. That would make for a sad world, no? Without those few who gave of themselves, who lived for the voiceless, we would still have slavery in America today. Some have been called to service to a greater degree than others, I agree with you on that. It has much to do with personal conviction. All I'm trying to do perhaps spur that conviction. :)

    I agree, people need to know Jesus. How you show that to them is always by meeting thier physical needs first. Read Matthew 25:34-46. Straight from the mouth of Jesus. The bible contains over 300 versus on the poor and social justice... more than any other specific command to his followers. So go spread the good news, but make sure your congregation is fed, watered, and isn't dying of preventable disease. Only then will they listen to you.

  11. Matt,
    First of all, i'd just like to say what you do and the way you do it is really amazing, and i look up to you and respect you for it. I am LDS, and i have a strong faith in Jesus Christ. I couldn't help but notice you quote matthew 25, we studied those verses in our "seminary" (it's like sunday school, during actual school) class for the whole period, and i agree with what you are saying 100%. And helping the world with all of these problems starts with helping one person. At first when i read the post, i felt a little overwhelmed with a need to go do some amazing act to save the world. Then, i realized that isn't exactly in my power. By helping 1 person, you're making a world of difference. It seems like you're not making a difference in the world at all, helping 1 out of 6000000000 people, but you're making a world of difference to the one person. There's a primary song, "kindness begins with me" that is brought to my mind. We have to be the change we want to see in the world. I saw a lot of people quoting jamie t., who is also another man i admire. Sorry if i started ranting, the point i'm trying to get across is that we need to take action in individual lives. even sitting here blogging about this isn't getting it done. i realize your purpose for the blog, but when it comes down to it, things need to be done.

  12. Agreed. Without thought there is no talk. Without talk there is no action. These things start with a conviction followed by a discussion that leads to action.

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  14. Yeah, actually i think i might quote you on that later! I have a girlfriend who is definitely a doer. She's all about making a difference in people's lives and changing others for the better. I just want to say that I love the classic crime, i love the messages in your songs and i love how they make me feel. I just love everything you guys are about. Oh, and my friend Cameron says he loves you. :)

  15. This has kept me up for almost 3 years now. The trouble is, I don't know where to start.

    It is sickening, and it does make me feel ashamed for what I've taken for granted all my life. I've thought of 22-year olds that have grown up in other countries, with the same potential as me, but none of my social privileges. How much harder has his/her life been than mine?

    It's been almost two years since I resigned from the Sunday morning drama, but in that time I've been just living life and taking note of spirituality, in whatever form I encounter it in.

    But due to relationships and now a new baby, I just feel kind of useless and weighted. I mean, I fully accept the responsibilities I'm to face with my lovely little girl, but how can I change anything if I'm just grinding away at the day-to-day American BS routine?

    Could the answer be, "to start something good and right and humane in the community?" I've done that, on a small scale and it was the most fulfilling time I've ever had. But then, parents booted me out and I've had to learn how to live without training wheels.

    Blah! It's such a downer to think about, I know. I want to do something so much, but it's killing me thinking about bills and diapers and food and stuff. I'd prefer a simpler life, to be honest. Kinda like Jesus'. No crap to worry about hauling from apartment to apartment. No worries about anything except community needs.

    I think I should stop here and REALLY look into my own heart and make a decision about my life and future. Sorry for the rant/dump, Matt. Love the music. Thanks for stoking my fires.

  16. Jeremy,

    From the sounds of it you have a good head on your shoulders. I can relate in some ways to your situation, but I have no children yet and I can't imagine what that responsibility feels like. My brother recently told me that he'd found his actual calling. He's only 29, but has had kids for nine years, and he's just discovered that his calling is to be a dad, and that there is no greater calling in his life than that. To raise his three boys into good men, according to him, is the noblest of callings, and a most epic challenge (trust me, they're rascals). It's taken him nine years to prioritize his life in this way. We can be disgusted with society and raise thoughtful, thankful, loving kids, or we can pass our indifference to our children. I don't think I know you at all, but I should say that if you keep looking up, I believe things will get better.

  17. Thanks, Matt. I really appreciate you taking the time to address a comment from a total stranger. Especially after reading your songwriting processing blog, I hope you didn't lose any inspirational ideas! :p

    My girlfriend and I attended a weekly parenting seminar last Fall, taught by a kind-hearted English rabbi (who was smart enough not to use the seminar as an outlet for his religion! Huzzah!). One quote that I'll try my best to remember of his: "You can't make life good for your kids. Your job is to show them that life is good."

    Life IS good. It's just hard to see it sometimes, with humanity's crap encrusted on parts of it.

    Thanks again, Matt.

  18. I definitely agree with this. I just think that our society is so used to seeing things on tv, on the news, about people dying in other countries. And people always say 'oh thats so sad' or 'man that sucks...' but yet we just go about our days without a second thought to what has happened to those people in other countries. Sure, people know it's bad that it is happening, but no one actually does anything about it. Yet we waste our money on fast food or buying some material thing that is definitely not needed.

    It's so easy to see in our society that we take our lives for granted. Even the people who are homeless have a better life than people in third world countries. I loved this post because it pertains to all that I believe. And of course I've been a hypocrite to these things, but for some reason, it seems like it's our nature. At least in this society.

    Thanks for posting this, Matt. Your insights are incredible.

  19. This did make me incredibly uncomfortable. All those thoughts have ran through my mind but i've never put them together. We look around us and see people hurting, people dying, and all we do is turn away. Its like if we don't see it, it cant exist.
    I'm a vegetarian. When I go home this summer I'll be vegan. I'm anti-war. My one and only goal in life is to change lives for the better, but i know i still hurt people. Even worse, I know there are people i haven't helped that i could've and even more that i'll never get a chance to save.