August 1, 2012

Seven Roadblocks to the Good Life: (4) Six Human Hungers Which Squander Resources, Time and Energy

Side by side with the six corrosives that devitalize human beings are six human hungers. Attempts to satisfy these hungers squander needed resources, consume time and use up energy that could be employed to greater advantage in other directions.

These hungers are for self-preservation; food and drink; sex satisfaction; power; something for nothing; soporifics. All six plead personal or social necessity as a justification for top priority. Over-indulgence in any or all of them warps, frustrates and cripples normal human functioning and prevents the rounded fruition of human life. All six demand attention, time and energy to a point at which the undisciplined individual is wholly involved and totally committed. Other aspects of life recede into the background until the satisfaction of particular human hungers enslaves the victim.

Food, drink, air, sunshine and sex are prerequisites to the continuance of human life. Without them there would be no life as we know it. All are essential elements in the preservation of the individual and the human race. They are the basis of life and are among the driving forces animating the individual and the race. Man shares these hungers with animals, birds and insects. They are general characteristics of terrestrial creatures.

In a previous section I commented on greed for power. Power hunger is easily stimulated in concentrations of population. The urge behind human hungers inheres in the individual. Sex satisfaction demands at least one partner. Power hunger is associated with population aggregates from the family to larger and more complex social groups.

Gambling (taking a chance on getting something for nothing) is an urge arising out of group life. Drug addiction stems from the effort to overcome pain, to compensate for nutritional imbalance, to off-set weariness and exhaustion or emotional disappointments, as an alternative to boredom.

Through the ages unscrupulous exploiters have used human hungers as a source of easy money. As society moved from a scarcity level to a level of abundance, crafty crooks and grasping businessmen have artfully stimulated human hungers by various forms of propaganda and cashed in on satisfying the hungers at top prices.

Urges to satisfy hungers arouse human beings and stimulate them to greater expenditures of interest and energy. Immoderate indulgence, especially in soporifics, diverts human beings from creative and social usefulness, makes them hapless victims of their animal appetites and denies them any effective role in broadening and ennobling human existence.

(from Chapter III, The Conscience of a Radical, Scott Nearing, Harborside, Maine: Social Science Institute, 1965)

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