Brendan Magauran


“I find it hard to tell you, I find it hard to take … it's a very, very mad world, mad world.” This line from the song Mad World by the band Tears for Fears expresses how I feel about restrictions in the world. From standards of etiquette to the laws of society, I find myself and many others forced into meaningless routines that dictate our destiny, promote a harmful social hierarchy, and lead to increased global tensions all based on restrictions set into motion long ago that continue to spiral out of control. While I agree that certain rules are crucial to maintaining civilization, others are ludicrous.

People’s lives are restricted before birth by factors beyond their control. Your native country and social status play a large part in your future before you are born. From birth, your native country drastically affects the level of education you will receive and what life skills will be taught to you based upon your community. One extreme is being forced to work on the family farm at age five, a practice commonly seen in rural Brazil. The other extreme seen in America is being forced to attend elite private schools, graduate from Harvard and assume a position as the C.E.O of some technology company. Neither the person in Brazil nor the person in America is inherently “better” than the other; their lives, like billions of people, have just been restricted by the disparity in wealth and opportunity. This creates a sense of hopelessness and despair because many people who aren’t happy with these limitations face astronomical odds to improve their situation. No one chooses where or to whom they are born; it’s just luck of the draw.

Within societies from an early age, people feel that they are pitted against one another in ways that increase conflict and hate. Social cliques form in all societies, each with there own code of requirements for acceptance. The little “popular princesses” on the playground in kindergarten can cause emotional scarring and social isolation that has contributed to an alarming suicide rate and high levels of childhood violence in school settings. The early isolation and ridicule contribute to tragedies such as the Columbine shooting. More commonly, ridicule and fear of being judged is what drives many to withdraw into a host of psychological disorders that have only been documented in the 20th century. Restrictions on teachers’ ability to interact with students leave them powerless to eliminate school cliques that are exclusive and harmful.

On the other extreme we have racism and discrimination in adults that has been seen historically as well as in more recent hate crimes like those committed by the K.K.K. The K.K.K was representative of the hostility many southerners felt towards non-whites and reflected a society that was based upon restrictive Jim Crow laws. Such exclusion and discrimination do not need to exist; they are just another level of separation and hostility which people use to judge others. Unfortunately, there is no easy answer to stopping these problems; it’s not kindergarten where everyone aims to follow the golden rule just “because”. The world has evolved into a dog eat dog place where people fight for power and dominance.

Another factor that contributes to conflict today is that many people lack spiritual guidance, an influence that at one time gave many a sense of direction. A growing number of people are starting to believe that there is no God and no afterlife. By believing that no higher power will judge them and good behavior is not rewarded, people look to better themselves by suddenly believing they are freed from the restrictions of society and religion, and conclude they have no moral obligation to society.

Furthering the divide within and between societies is the disparity between rich and poor, which has resulted in a minority owning a fraction of the wealth. Even in the golden land of opportunity, America herself, people like Bill Gates exist side by side with the poor family farmer: someone capitalizing on global trade restrictions in America’s favor at the world’s expense and someone who’s paying for the restrictions placed on them and their family from birth. India and China both have massive populations that are still growing at astronomical rates, yet both countries have extremely low per capita incomes compared to the developed world. Combined, India and China make up roughly a third of the world’s population yet due to restrictions on trade, industry, and previous imperialistic restrictions, their people are born into poverty. “How can one justify the way two members of the same species can live so differently?” the people of India and China must think as they slowly grow angry and tensions mount while the world becomes a more and more hostile environment. A time bomb is slowly ticking towards major lower class uprisings to push for equality in all walks of life

In this mad world, too few people are saying “Stop.” Too few are saying “We need to stop this global hate, differentiation in wealth, pollution, social hierarchy, and the numerous problem causing restrictions that are leading mankind to its demise.” We need a charismatic figure like a Martin Luther King Jr. or a Gandhi to lead this movement for humanity’s future while we still have time. Restrictions are inevitable in a society, but it is human nature to fight such restrictions and strive for equality.


Copyright 2002-2006 Student Publishing Program (SPP). Poetry and prose 2002-2006 by individual authors. Reprinted with permission. SPP developed and designed by Strong Bat Productions.