We went to college together, shared a house in our college days, lived together in Bratislava and now we live about 500 meters apart, here in Bratislava. We have many things in common, but our biggest difference is our attitude towards life.

Benjamin goes about his business and is wise to leave things that do not directly affect him untouched and does not get frustrated by things that are not directly relevant to his own personal life.

I on the other hand have a very low frustration threshold.

So when I tell him, in a mildly agitated state, that Slovaks’ biggest dream is to earn 100 euro per month more, that’s it, no other ambitions, no drive to change society for the better, nothing outside the egocentric materialistic bubble, he says: ‘Yes, that’s true. But that’s what I like about this country. Simple people. What does it matter if we are surrounded by thousands of people with small ambitions? How does it have any relevance at all for your life? You can do whatever you want, let them bend over backwards to perhaps get 100 euro per month more in their repetitive desk jobs. Who cares? I’m just happy I don’t have a job like that. What you say reminds me of what Adam Bzoch says, that people around here just live like the grass grows, no aspirations, not interested in anything, no passion for anything. But who cares?’

Wise words of course.

Why should I care? I don’t even know why I care.

Perhaps because it has an isolating effect. For example, you can easily meet people who don’t really like their job at Johnson controls and they will gladly tell you what they are doing to earn a little bit more money there. But you will not meet people who can explain what exactly Johnson controls does, what it stands for, what its role is in the bigger picture, how they are linked to politics, why they are here in Slovakia and what exactly their business is. Because knowing that could perhaps get them nothing at all, or could get them millions if they could use this knowledge in a practical way, but that’s not their objective, their objective is to make 100 euro more doing whatever someone else tells them to do, following whatever course someone else tells them to follow, and that’s where it ends. Tell me what to do and pay me, do not expect any other role for me in this society than earning some money and spending it on me, me, me, meeeeeeee!!!! It’s a state of hyperindividualism with people separated from each other as though they all have their own private kingdom.

If JFK would be alive today and would say: ‘Don’t ask what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country,’ he would be laughed at.

The only question the modern ‘homo economicus’ asks is ‘what’s in it for me?’

My friend -with genuine concern for my well being- is kindly asking me to stop letting observations such as this affect my mental state and to focus more on what I can do for myself.

I’m the psychologist, but he has a better recipe to feel cheerful in this society: protect and cultivate your own turf and look with detached amusement at the maddening crowd running after their little pleasures.

The ideal solution would be to SELL them their little pleasures for top dollar.

One stab at my own profession: my friend has a better effect on my general state in four hours of talking than my therapist in 30 sessions.

PS

If you don’t recognize me in this 6 year old picture it’s because you’re not used to see me smile and the light in my eyes has dimmed.