We’re struggling to struggle.
Maybe it is not such an unnatural state. We start life in a race to the egg. But, that is only the half of us, not even that. The egg contributes more genetic material than the sperm cell. Maybe struggling to struggle is just one of multiple modes of life.
One of many modes, evidence of dysfunction, our inner nature, or artificial condition, it doesn’t really matter. We are struggling to struggle, and we should confront this fact.
We struggle to do well in school to be admitted to a better school. If we succeed there, we earn the right to work . . . for the better part of our lives. In parallel to that is the struggle to find a mate. If we succeed at that, we earn the privilege and responsibility of being a parent . . . the the better part of our lives. There are many other, smaller struggles for supremacy, acceptance, satisfaction, virtue, etc. All the time during these struggles we are being worn down. Some of us are breaking.
Now, compound this with living under oppression, tyranny, subjugation, slavery, fear, uncertainty, poverty, etc. It would be an environment hostile to civility and human happiness. A person raised in such an environment would probably have a very different psychology than someone raised in civil society.
A strange twist is that two people raised in the very same society, at a very similar position on the socio-economic ladder might have very different interpretations about that upbringing, that position on the socio-economic ladder, and about their society. One might think he was born into a utopia, whereas, the other might feel and think it was a dystopia. Whichever interpretation an individual settled on, it would be a part of the philosophical foundation on which that person based their ideation and their actions. There are more moving parts than that, though.
A simple version of the model can be summed up as a series of question: What is valuable (or what is virtuous)? Can I be or emulate or propagate that value (or virtue)? How do I be, emulate, or propagate that value (or virtue)?
The elaborated answer to each of these questions could probably fill a book, for each individual. People’s motivations for their lifestyle are often more complex than even they, themselves, realize.
Given our model, we can suppose that even deciding which of the many struggles there are going on around us to engage in is, itself, a struggle. At some point, we must begin to question the resolve and stamina of the human animal.
Sooner or later, there is a final straw, for some people at least. Some reach a breaking point, not necessarily a catastrophic one, not such that we would point at the person and say they were no longer a functional person. But at some point, the decision making process becomes corrupted by external conditions. It ceases to be a “decision” and becomes a simple action, where the person is akin to a passive object being directed by a force. The person is no longer “free”.