There is an hypothesis in UFO lore that we are souls trapped on Earth, in a cycle of reincarnation, against our will. This is called the Prison Planet hypothesis, and Tom DeLonge has expressed this belief at times. The non-human intelligences piloting the UAPs are the prison wardens, forcing us to suffer on Earth, in some sort of cruel trap, to harvest our negative emotions.
Obviously I have no clue whether any of that is true, and without some concrete evidence, I don't consider it believable either.
But if I suspend that disbelief, can I find anything in my own life that bears a resemblance to the Prison Planet?
When I was in my 20's, I was motivated by money.
My strategy for where to work, and what teams to join, was almost entirely determined by who would pay me the most.
This led me to become a government contractor.
After years of hopping jobs, always chasing higher pay, I found myself surrounded by people who were just like me. We were smart young professionals who were motivated by money, and we worked on pointless government projects that usually accomplished nothing.
In this environment, it's hard to see a different way of living. Every person I interacted with had the same underlying motives. I never said "I want to be surrounded by people who are motivated by money", but because I was motivated by money, that's what happened.
When I finally quit, I was amazed to see that there are all sorts of different people in the world, with all sorts of different motivations. I was simply blind to them because they would never have made the same choices as me, and therefore would never be in the environment I found myself in.
I have seen this sort of selection bias throughout my life, and I've heard other people's stories that demonstrate the same idea.
I never explicitly made the choice to be surrounded by people who thought so similar to me.
But the reality is that our life choices are not like ordering an item off a menu. Reality is dynamic, and contains other intelligent agents, all making choices at the same time, creating and affecting our environments, in surprising feedback loops.
If there is any truth to the Prison Planet hypothesis, maybe it's that we all ended up here inadvertantly, due to our motivations and desires. And nobody explicitly said "I want to be in a world of suffering, inequality, and disease", but that's where we ended up.
Escaping my boring contracting job taught me a lot about how my motivations and desires affect the environments I end up in. And it can feel like a trap, engineered by my own decisions, and lack of awareness their long term impact has in my life.
I think it's important to realize the world we live in is almost entirely created by our human choices. We are prisoners to our collective motivations and desires. And we have the power to make new choices, and create a better world.