Is Life Just One Scam After Another?
Ah, life used to be so easy when we were children, well at least for some of us. We didn't have
to worry about bills. We didn't have a time clock or a boss - a bully perhaps, but not a work boss. We didn't have
to constantly chase a buck (I realize that there are hundreds of millions around the globe who are consumed with
chasing a grain of rice, but let's pretend we're addressing an ideal childhood). Other than getting other
children's toys, we didn't have many cares back then.
Of course, some might argue that times have changed, and now children have to worry about all
sorts of predators and perverts. It is true that children have been and continue to be vulnerable to sickos and
wackos in any given society in any given time period. It doesn't necessarily seem to be on the increase, perhaps
just more widely reported. Nevertheless, thankfully there have been children who have lived relatively stress-free
lives happily playing about as children. Naturally, this is how we would really like to see them.
Be Innocent, Get Ripped Off
For those who have grown up in this type of sheltered, protected and nurturing environment, the
"real world" may come as quite a shock, and such a child may have an extraordinarily difficult time adjusting,
perhaps remaining in naivete and innocence his or her entire life. There will be those who will know what I am
addressing here, those who out of generosity of spirit and innocence find themselves constantly getting scammed in
one way or another, for time, money, love, sex, you name it. Each time they get ripped off, they will
optimistically look toward the future when the "real" deal will be coming along - after all, they're good, aren't
they, so don't they deserve it?
Indeed, good, innocent people do deserve to be treated kindly and fairly. But all too often,
they are on the receiving end of a scam, such as nice, little old ladies or gentlemen who have thousands of dollars
ripped off from them by "caring" hardselling "telemarketing" con artists who have no conscience and are soulless.
Sometimes, the rest of us titter at such silly people, who would allow themselves to be victimized time and again
for seemingly weak reasons such as loneliness and despair. We think it could never happen to us, we could never
fall for that tired old scheme. But, alas, we would be wrong, whatever our age and financial adeptness, because we
have been falling for it on a larger scale since we moved out of our innocent childlike state into fending for
Meaningless Work - A Scam
The first and most obvious scam is the constant exhortation that we need to work, work, work for
a few dollars an hour, while fatcats sitting higher up the corporate pyramids fly off to the south of France or
lean back in their hightech Lazy-Boys, smoking their Havanas and watching their 400-foot screen TVs. That's the
first scam. Of course, we are told that with hard work we too can be Mr. Bigwig, that opportunities abound, that
Mr. Bigwig started in exactly the same position we are in now. But is this all really true? If we put in hard work,
will anyone really recognize it and reward it? Or will we be scammed again when someone else takes credit for our
efficient work and good ideas?
Sometimes we do receive recognition for our work, but it becomes abundantly clear to some
punching bags as they mature that they have to vigorously and viciously fight for both recognition and reward,
otherwise it will never be a-comin'. We will be ripped off yet again.
Now, this is not to say that we are all victims of society, or other people or even ourselves.
This is to bring this subject to light so we can stop being victims. This is to talk about something that goes on
day in and day out, something that isn't addressed, something that is taken for granted, and that is, that there
are predators among us who are constantly on the lookout for patsies and suckers, for naive, sweet people who
simply want to be helpful - in other words, for marks.
You probably know someone like this, a wolf in sheep's clothing. These people might not look
like the typical Simon LeGree villain with a long, curved moustache and a nasty snigger as he catches you off guard
and causes you to willingly be ripped off. Indeed, you might even now and again participate in the predatory scam
without realizing it; you might, in fact, be an unknowing perpetrator, since this quality can be found in the mass
human psyche and is certainly not limited to a few bad apples.
Get Rich Quick - Get Scammed!
Every week millions of people receive dozens of "Make $7 zillion in just seconds a day!" offers
in the mail. All of them look tempting, of course, and some of them seem easy. But, after we've sent in our $39
"registration fees" or some other such thing, we find out that in order to make that $7 zillion, we will have to
run out and mug people on the street, because what we've received is some old bogus plan that would take 100,000
years to pay off. Naturally, in the "inspirational" tape that might come with any cheesy product we might receive
for our hard-earned money, we are told that if we don't make $7 zillion, it is because we aren't working hard
enough. "It all depends on how much you put into it!" we are cheerfully reprimanded.
Then there're the happy, happy MLM companies that also promise us $7 zillion if we simply make
all of our friends and families buy dozens of bottles of whatsamagigs and whooseywhats, so that they can then make
all of their friends and families buy some, and so on and so forth. "Then you tell two friends, and then they tell
two friends," etc., ad nauseam. Sure, some people have become rich through MLM, but far more people have been left
holding the bag(s).
Life is a Big Pyramid Scheme
It seems that all life is simply a pyramid scheme. If you're incredibly lucky, you can get
through without having been burned more than a few times, but there are many people who get burned dozens or
hundreds of times before they finally return to the dust from which they came. Why is this? Is it because they are
incredibly stupid and foolish? Or is it something about how society is set up that says, "The only way you will
make it through life unscathed is if you constantly are on the lookout for the endless spider webs and wolf traps
that others are laying out for you?" It seems there is something of a scam artist built into the "normal" human
experience. Although as youngsters we are taught to be truthful and honest, meek and unpredatory, when we go off on
our own, we then have to immediately become experts at spotting infinite pitfalls, many of which are deliberately
contrived by another aspect of the human psyche, that which derives pleasure off of "gotchas."
Fool Me Once, Shame on Me? Shame on You!!
How do we remedy this situation? Well, besides the fact that these qualities of predation and
scamming are inherent in the human psyche, they are also encouraged in part by the emphasis in our various
societies placed on competition, whether in sports, money, love, religion or war. Competition in itself is not a
problem; it helps to push human beings to levels of excellence. Who really doesn't like the Olympics or at least
what they stand for? Many a tear has been shed while watching them. But the typical person seems not to know when
to turn off the competition, when to just be real and not to be trying to win at all costs. Thus, although
competition should not be discarded from our training, more emphasis must be placed on knowing when to cooperate
rather than compete. There has to be a line drawn somewhere. Life cannot be an endless scam, whereby we must keep
on our toes at all times or get gotten. It is tiresome and exhausting to live like this, and it causes turmoil in
every aspect of our lives. How can one truly be at peace, how can one rest, if one is continuously on one's toes,
if one can never let one's hair down?
Now, there are those who actually thrive on this constant edgy state. That is fine, but they
must make sure that they are getting their thrills with integrity and not by ripping people off, or degrading
people or cheating people in any way whatsoever. It is nearly impossibly to make it through life with one's
integrity and honesty intact. If you try to improve your life by attempting some sort of money-making program, you
may find yourself smack dab in the middle of some untoward scheme, you may end up losing your friends and all that
you have worked for, just because, with good intentions, you linked up to something that turned out to be sleazy
and deceitful. The only way to make it through, it appears, without getting caught up in something sleazy, would be
to live like Walter Mitty, in fear and meek servitude. It is a pathetic situation, but one that must change.