but this article had a great quote:
“I have long felt a tension between freedom and materialism. Ascetics across the ages have understood that austerity breeds sensitivity. “If you would know the flavor of huckleberries,” began Thoreau, but I would end it saying nothing could heighten the sensations more than fasting. Likewise, materialism has deadened the acutely-sensitive senses nature endowed us with, placed us in a world focused on the near-future of imminent acquisition, and has replaced the happiness that we can achieve through our own work with the pursuit of things made by others.
Industrialization has taken the division of labor to incredible heights and bestowed upon us an unparalleled amount of stuff. Free-market economists have pointed out that humans innately have an unlimited number of wants, so filling them doesn’t diminish their number. Supposing that we become happier as our list of material desires gets satisfied, however, suggests that all of us today should feel immensely happier than people who lived, say, 100, 200, or 500 years ago. I doubt this. The law of diminishing returns doesn’t lie. We live with much greater material comfort, but deep-rooted happiness seems to elude many of us in spite of it.
The production of this stuff on such a mass scale has required a total reorganization of society. Technological civilization relies on a hierarchical organization to implement the fine division of labor. Doing this, though, has required retooling the educational system into one that develops, in essence, complicated machine components instead of complete individuals. The division of education into specialties and the assumption that as students enter high school they will emphasize a curriculum based either in math and science or in the liberal arts instead of recognizing the fundamental and symbiotic importance of both makes this utterly clear. Of course, in college and graduate school, the higher the education, the more finely divided the product becomes.“
Specialization has become the modus operandi of our society, for better or worse. Very few renaissance men (or women) exist any more, and the model of success is now based only on that which ends in material wealth and comfort for ourselves and perhaps our kids. This disturbs me to my core, because it is a standard even religious and smart people buy into with no thought of all that one can miss in life while in pursuit of this narrowly defined version of ‘success.’