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  The Ishmael Community: Questions and Answers

The Question (ID Number 755)...

    Your books and my own experience have left me profoundly disillusioned with the world and what's happening here in general. I've been coping with this by actually making a difference in my area and educating anyone willing to listen. But the system seems to be set up in such a way that the common man either plays along or dies in squalor. Any thoughts?

    ...and the response:

    Making a difference in your area and educating anyone willing to listen are two very important ways of changing things for the better. Your idea that the system is set up in such a way that the common man either plays along or dies in squalor seems to me to be a great oversimplification. A great many people do very well by NOT "playing along." Perhaps they don't become as rich as they might if they WERE playing along, but if they have a life that satisfies them, so what?

    I'm inclined to think that very few people who die in squalor end up this way because they REFUSE to play along. I'm inclined to think that people who die in squalor do so for a great variety of reasons. They become crack addicts at an early age. They become small-time criminals who spend their lives in and out of prison. They're abandoned as children, grow up in miserable foster homes, quit school at an early age, and never have a chance to do anything to help themselves. In other words, there are ten million reasons why people end up dying in squalor–and only one of those reasons is that they refuse to "play along" with the system.

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