We live in a beautiful yet chaotic, high-demand and yet highly rewarding world. Today’s modern culture has opened many doors, providing us with untold opportunities, but at what cost?

The true downfall in today’s society may not be clear at first glance. Why? There are a number of ‘truths’ and ‘realities’ that we have accepted as normal that are actually cloaking our greatest struggles. It is not until we dig down beneath the surface and look at these realities under a microscope. Are we really happy and moving forward in a positive direction, or are we merely accepting a toxic and negative culture, settling for less?

Here are 12 disturbing ‘truths’ that we have come to accept as ‘normal’ in today’s society:

#1 – War and Sacrifice

At what point in our history did we decide that it’s okay for someone to die as a sacrifice due to a disagreement between two countries? Those who choose to fight and put their lives on the line, that’s one thing (although one could argue we’re brainwashed to agree) but what about the innocent lives that are lost? There’s a whole website dedicated to tracking the body count in Iraq, currently displaying that there are anywhere from 182,769 – 205,191 ‘documented civilian deaths from violence’. However, at the same time, if you were simply to walk onto Iraqi soil and start shooting civilians, that would be murder. When did we decide there was a difference?

#2 – The Contest of Innovation

There was once a time where scientific advances and technological innovation was celebrated as a way to move society forward as a whole. You weren’t inventing just for your own personal gain, you were inventing to make the world a better place. Today in our capitalist society, however, that focus has been turned around completely. We fight for ownership, recognition and financial gain, even if it means that these advances are being denied to those who need them most. Meanwhile, the most vulnerable in our society continue to struggle and suffer, aware that the means to help them exist, but are just out of their reach. What happened to our humanity?

#3 – Growing Divisions

Our society continually brings up the concept of equality and our battle to achieve it, but the truth is that we have actively divided ourselves in so many ways that it may never be attainable. I’m not necessarily just talking about the division between male and female, or the various races. Just look at the layout of our country. We’ve established state lines and named our cities, each with their own individual governing bodies and rules. While it may be in place for our ease, it ultimately divides us making it easier to say ‘not my problem’ versus unifying us as a nation (Flint water crisis anyone?).

#4 – Animals Are Lesser Beings

We, the human population, hold ourselves in such high regard that we somehow see ourselves as being ‘greater’ in some way than the rest of the animal kingdom. Who decided this to be so, besides ourselves and our greed? Our actions speak louder than words… torturing animals in laboratory testing, killing them for their body parts. Somewhere along the line, we’ve forgotten that these beings are just as capable as we are of feeling pain. The fact that they don’t speak our language and can’t, therefore, express their concerns to us doesn’t mean we shouldn’t take them into consideration.

#5 – Tear Others Down to Rise

At what point did we determine that the best path to success was in tearing down our opponents in order to make ourselves look better rather than actually bettering ourselves? Where we could have promoted a culture of becoming our best selves, we have, instead, allowed ourselves to create a world where politicians, CEOs and those in power achieve their success on the backs of those who they expect to trust and follow them. Not only does it create an incredibly toxic culture for all that are involved, if you take a look at today’s world leaders, are they really an example of who we, as a society, would like to be?

#6 – The Illusion of Wealth Being Elite

We, as a society, have come to accept that being wealthy is a true measure of success and happiness. Looking at what we have, what we have accumulated and what we still need to obtain as forms of an elite status while overlooking the true measure of wealth – the ability to care for the world’s most vulnerable. Many of the world’s elite will sit at home polishing their Rolex collection while approximately 844 million people don’t currently have access to clean drinking water.

#7 – False Connection

With the rise of cell phone technology and the internet, we are more connected to the world on a global scale than ever before, but are we really connected? Experts have revealed that the very technology that should be improving our communication and connection with those around us is actually destroying it. We are hiding behind our screens and disconnecting from the world entirely, staying hidden in our own little personal bubbles. This is largely due to the lack of face to face contact, denying ourselves the intimacy of eye contact and human conversation. We are more ‘alone’ today than we were before we had the world at our fingertips.

#8 – Hard Truth About Education

How many of us grew up with the belief that in order to succeed in life we need to go get good grades and go to college? It’s been widely accepted for decades, and yet the data says otherwise. Many college grads today are unemployed with massive student debt, while those who chose to pursue careers in the trades are flourishing following successful apprenticeship programs. Much of what we learn in school doesn’t even translate into real-world use, while the education system fails to address the more important life skills that will help propel us forward, like the tax system.

#9 – Religion as a Justification

When you ask someone to explain the basis of religion, they will often spout a beautiful explanation of love, acceptance, morals and the greater good – most even going as far as talking about true peace. However, these beliefs have been twisted in such a way that today we can use religion to justify most modern atrocities. Hatred, violence, discrimination, war, ethnic cleansing – We allow hatred to be explained by religion arguing that we are somehow trying to build a greater world. Maybe religious extremists should spend a little more time studying their own scripture?

#10 – Balance of Power With International Policies

Often, we convince ourselves that our international policies as Americans are put in place not only to benefit our own country but to protect and improve the lives of those around the world – but think again. Take a careful look at the current global trade situation. Larger, more powerful countries are exercising our muscles, fighting it out for our own best interests by increasing trade costs, slapping down tariffs, etc., while smaller countries are struggling to even be ‘in the game’ with all the changes. We are succeeding and rising to success on their backs.

#11 – Over-Consumption is ‘Normal’

Looking back on our ancestors, this society of over-consumption was not always normal. Growing their own food and living without many of our modern conveniences, they made do with what they had available. As modern technology has made our lives easier and ‘things’ more readily available, we’ve fallen into a pattern of ‘needing’ and wanting everything. The result? We’re in the middle of a growing obesity epidemic in the United States today, a trend that isn’t going to change or fix itself until we learn to embrace the concept of moderation.

#12 – Competition in Parenting Is Hurting the Children

There once was a day when a successful parent was determined by the health and happiness of their child. However, in today’s society, we’ve shifted that focus dramatically. Parents are competing for who has the best brand name clothing to outfit their child, or whose lifestyle fits the current trends the most. As this shift occurred, the focus became less and less on the child and more on the parent. Who does this benefit? The parent and only the parent, while children fail to receive the attention that they so desperately need to thrive.

Is the answer at the exact opposite end of the spectrum? Or is there a balance somewhere in between? This video will make you think:

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