Are you chasing luxury or survival?

By Fløren Kyteler (they/them/their or xey/xem/xeir)

I was thinking about ideas similar to this yesterday.

I’ve been watching Star Trek TNG. Earth no longer has poverty. There is no money. If you need something, you just…get it. What has resulted is, no one lives in extreme luxury, but everyone is comfortable.

Deanna Troi can get a hot fudge sundae anytime she wants. Worf can fight literal monsters with his bat’leth whenever he wants. Everyone has their specialty. Everyone has their work schedules for keeping the ship running. They have the holodecks to express themselves. They have access to the very best in physical and mental health care- even if it’s an alien refugee from a dying race or the captain of the Federation’s flagship or literal royalty on a mission of peace.

But the working class in America is SURVIVING. I have so much privilege, and I still have to check my account balances, nearly daily, to ensure I have enough to eat. To pay my mortgage. To keep my lights on. Until I sit down & do the math every other week, I don’t know if I’ll be messaging my mom to ask for money. Or having to seriously consider a GoFundMe to replace my heater in the middle of winter. AND I HAVE IT BETTER THAN SO MANY PEOPLE.

Another side effect of binging a childhood favorite TV show is the reminiscing. It’s awakening memories & feelings I had completely forgotten about. I don’t know that I’ve accessed them since they happened! But this, overlapping with my leftist political views as an adult, has me thinking about how “I thought it would be” when I was a child. How I observed my parents interacting with the world. One a Democrat, the other a Republican, and practicing Catholicism. I remember going through my early life chasing luxury. I wanted NICE things. Once I hit 20 or so, having that shift to survival mode when I was out on my own. The shame and failure I’ve felt since then, because I don’t have enough money.

That’s when I realized, I’m chasing survival. Millennials were taught to chase luxury, and I don’t know what I’m doing. The generations before us were all racing against it other to have the latest car or TV or clothing or even vacations. Now, with limitations placed on things like food stamps, medical insurance, income based rent, bus fare, a stagnant minimum wage…my generation and the ones after are racing each other for RESOURCES TO SURVIVE.

Sweeping generalizations, of course. There are some Gen Zers chasing luxury, for sure. Just as there are elderly chasing survival. But as a generalization, I think it stands.
When I say I want socialism, I mean that I don’t want us to chase anything anymore.

There’s an episode where a preserved Captain Montgomery Scot is given “standard guest quarters” upon the Enterprise D. The Ensign says Scotty can request larger quarters, if he wanted them. Scotty responds that, in his time, even an Admiral wouldn’t have such nice quarters. Those quarters are a bedroom, a livingroom/common area large enough to have an office/workspace, and a bathroom. A true one-bedroom apartment.

“Standard guest quarters” aren’t even as small as a studio apartment. It’s the bear minimum for a single person to get, then as you gain clout, you might request a larger space. Can you imagine if each person just…got a one bedroom apartment. No questions asked. That’s just…what you get. Sure, there will be some that “request something larger.” Those is positions of notoriety. Their children. But. Everyone else…literally no homelessness at all. Homelessness is impossible. EVERYONE gets an apartment. And no one has to pay for water or energy. It’s just DONE. When you think of the houseless people on the street, how much more do you think is possible when they simply have the opportunity to rest when they need to. Shower when they need to. Have a sanitary place to use the bathroom, for gods’ sake. Quite a difference has been made.

I’m chasing survival. With my privilege, I’m keeping up. But losing speed with any one aspect of my life, that would be all it takes to fall behind.

Published by explorinfloren

Floren Kyteler (they/them/their or xey/xem/xeir) is a New York trained actor, experienced producer, and is a self-advocate of mental health & LGBT+ rights.

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