Greed and Selling Out in America Circa 2011

| by RefinedHype

By Jason James

“Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity; but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dream with eyes open, to make it possible.” – T.E. Lawrence

I was having a hard time finding the right words to officially enter 2011 with so I figured I’d let T.E. Lawrence do it for me.

The above quote is something that has stuck with me for over 15 years and words that I will repeat to myself again and again for the next 50 (God willing).

During the past 2 weeks I took some time to really think about and analyze the world around me. In the final months of 2010, it was through writing this column and the beginning stages of mine and Rodney’s next album that I came to understand some things about myself and what it is that I am connected to. So rather than waste your time on reading yet another reflective “crazy shit that happened in 2010” article, I’m going to look forward into the future and do something that I try my best to never do. I’m going to write about myself.

I don’t like the world that I live in. Our media soaked, celebrity obsessed, passionless, over-sexed and under-stimulated culture is a system that generates 100 robots to every 1 free thinker. As backwards as it is corrupt, the world as we know it is now just a celebration in mediocrity. A place where the pursuit of fame and temporary happiness takes priority over genuinely progressive ideas. The people that inhabit this reality would rather appreciate average moments than work to produce timeless legacies because they know that due to natural selection most of them will not be considered significant to the end result.

I remember back when I was in the 3rd Grade. The school that I attended sent me to mandatory anger management classes after a kid in my class that called me “poor” and my mother a “crackhead” (who, by the way, doesn’t even drink alcohol) had his ass handed to him. At the time I thought I was being reprimanded for reacting violently to my classmate’s comments but I was confused as to why he wasn’t punished for making the comments in the first place.

I now understand that the reason for that was because at the time we were being conditioned into society’s way of thinking. We were being taught that if our actions were devious but silent in nature then we would almost never suffer a consequence. But if the reaction disrupted the order of things, we were to face serious repercussions. In the months after when I asked my anger management counselor why the child who caused me to act that way wasn’t punished she told me, “That’s just the way the world is. You can’t change it”. It was at this point that I began to disconnect.

There is one dynamic that exists in our universe which everything is born from and ultimately returns to: light and darkness. Of the two, darkness seems to be greater in mass and depth but light has the power to confuse and destroy it at will. I believe that this dynamic also applies to human life. Our world is made up of mostly darkness but those who choose to be of and by the light are in possession of that power and are freedom’s true torchbearers.

I myself refuse to accept anything less than freedom. I spend my life in pursuit of the extraordinary and anything that works against it is ultimately thrown to the wayside and forgotten. Although there is nothing about me that is special or significant, I live this way because I choose it. The freedom to envision and actualize your destiny is not a luxury but rather something we are born with. It’s only through years of brainwashing and social conditioning that we begin to believe that we are not in control of our own fate and we are more or less relegated to only experiencing life as we wish it to be when somebody else permits you to do so. Let me be the one to tell you that this is complete bullshit.

I have never been able to hold a job for more than 6 months and my years in the not-so-legitimate side of things was at best a total calamity. The reason for that being is that I have never allowed myself to be controlled by excess. In every situation I took what was necessary to feed myself and the people I love and then put my focus back into the things that are important.

I don’t understand human greed and why we prioritize it over everything else. Time and time again I’ve watched people, even some that I love, compromise their dignity and integrity for financial gain. Our culture is one that idolizes wealth and puts on a pedestal people who were willing to make these compromises with little to no respect for their own God-given humanity. It’s this aspect of our existence that I despise and has caused me at times to become secluded from all aspects of the world, even the positive ones.

As you may already know, my chosen career path is a direct contradiction to how I choose to live my life. The closer I get to success (or rather the mainstream idea of it), the more immersed I become in our out-rightly and unapologetically evil media system. I often struggle to find a balance between my art and the business and the only way that I’ve found to create that balance is to be as creatively free as possible, which includes giving the people my experience as an artist without asking for money in return.

At the end of the day, who knows what’s going to happen in the future. Maybe someday Jimmy Iovine will make me an offer I can’t refuse and I will have to sell my art to please the powers that be. But I can assure you that I will never under any circumstance sell out. I will always be searching through the darkness to bring the people a piece of the light. That I can guarantee you. I will always work to create an alternate world where we can comfortably exist and truly be free.

So here’s to the pursuit of the extraordinary.

(Jason James is an artist, freelance columnist and writer for You can listen/download his most recent album, "Marvelous World Of Color", here and you can contact him here and here.)