Today I’d like to talk about some of the notions in our society which are misleading our young people and causing a lot of unnecessary misery. Firstly, the idea that you must earn a living. Within the notion of “having to earn a living” is the assumption that you don’t automatically deserve to be alive. For some reason this tends to make people feel somewhat depressed. I have it on the highest authority, however, that the only way to really earn a living, once and for all, is by being born (and I’m talking here about physical birth, not any religious metaphorical mumbo-jumbo). After that you deserve to relax.

Another misguided concept that I’d like to shoot down is the belief that you should be responsible. This whole idea puts people under tremendous strain, because you end up feeling responsible for all your imperfections. Society holds us accountable if we don’t comply with its definition of our responsibilities. You don’t choose your genetic make-up or the conditions in which you grow up, yet all the unfortunate things that happen are your fault. It’s time we let go of this burden of false responsibility.

What we are really talking about here is that strange phenomenon called masochism. It is my belief that we are a deeply masochistic society. A prominent politician recently said “if it isn’t hurting, it isn’t working”. This statement was calculated to appeal to our need for the type of dogma that insists we must suffer. Any belief which maintains that it’s our duty to endure pain, is guaranteed to be popular.

All of this is against the natural order of things. If God wanted us to have a hard time, why did he give us such an enormous capacity for pleasure – our brains are juicy pleasure organs, not guilt machines. The divine doesn’t talk to us in terms of duty and effort – it whispers peacefully to us of fulfilling our deepest longings and desires.

If what our friends, the psychologists, tell us is true, our minds are programmed largely by the language that we habitually use. They say emotions are bodily reactions to the thoughts we have, and that thoughts are largely verbal expressions (it is said they are performed by silent laryngeal muscle movement).

Presumably this means that if we wake up in the morning feeling miserable, it may simply be that the “negative” verbal phrases echoing through our heads far outweigh the “positive” expressions.

So every time we think “should”, “ought”, “have to”, “need to”, “had better” or “must” we are programming ourselves to feel gloomy and helpless.

CCTVAll other authorities are hereby superseded by this sermon.