The discontent we feel within an ever-accelerating world is palpable, and more than ever the largest structures in society seem to fail us on every level. Formed in the soulless words of politicians scaffolding a capitalist modus-operandi, manifested in their inaction, their division of the privileged and the vulnerable, and supercharged through a social media that encourages the warped dysmorphia of our day to day online popularity contests, we are swimming in a soup of negativity and kept baited by unreachable expectations. It’s no wonder we feel so lost and powerless.
With powerlessness comes an erosion of hope and when hope is extinguished we are left with a sense of ourselves as worn as old rope. Indeed, our lives contain so many situations that are fundamentally at odds with the true core of our human values that sometimes it feels like all we are left with is ghost-like and unrecognizable. Our humanity is impinged upon daily and this fundamentally damages everything whilst planting seeds in the gardens of our existence that grow the most negative of our emotions.
It feels fitting to write this at such a time of unprecedented political uncertainty. From my own perspective the current climate often makes me feel powerless, often resigned to appeals to futility the further we sink into this stagnant arena. I’ve seen my friends effected by redundancy as businesses has contracted prompting preservation of profitability. I’ve seen a huge increase in homelessness in my nearest cities. I’ve seen a generation of young people disaffected and sold a celebrity culture full of false dreams available only to only the privileged. I’ve seen first hand a hospital bursting at the seams. I’ve witnessed my daughters school fundraising regularly to be able to meet funding shortfalls. Simultaneous to this I see politicians flipping years of austerity into a catalogue of spending promises, carefully rehearsed sound bites and practiced procrastination not to truly serve society better, but to win votes at a crucial time and maintain current power structures that predominantly favour the ones who participate in them directly. And then of course there’s Donald Trump…
Now, politics exists. Whether you agree or not with your current political system is a separate debate, and actually I write this not to influence anything outwardly politically, but rather internally. What compounds these feelings of disorientation is that some people choose to support a way of life that is fundamentally at odds with what it is to be human. Of course, put money into this mix and we reach a new level of complexity, and it can be argued that greed is a human value. Conversely, you can argue that money is a human construct and can be considered to be one of the largest ‘structures’ in our world. Money isn’t the essence of the human spirit. It’s a creation. A framework designed to control.
What I’m ultimately saying is that we have had our true sense of our human selves chipped away at through the creation of and maintenance of these socio-political and economic structures. I can’t help but feel that because of the sheer scale of this, we tend to look predominately outwards which puts us in a dangerous position of not feeling wholly responsible for our actions. It becomes very easy to say that things are always a result of something bigger than ourselves. Let me caveat this by saying that they often are, BUT, there are also things within ourselves that can be hugely powerful agents of change. We underestimate the power that we have to change perspective which in turn can ignite embers in others which in turn can light fires on a societal level. The human spirit has, on the whole, an inbuilt moral compass and the ability to make choices based on this. We need to re-discover ourselves. We need to rediscover our individual human consciousness as our own political system and use this to alleviate feelings of powerlessness and effect change for the wholehearted good of everyone and everything.
Now, I need to point out that I don’t mean this in a “McMindfulness” sense (Ronald E Purser: 2019) , in which it is explored that Capitalism defines the world as unproblematic and that if we hold a negative view of it then ultimately we are the problem and we have an individual duty to fix it and fall in line. I actually mean the opposite of this.
To explain this, let me summarize what I see as the by-products of our society under the current political and technological model. This can be done quite simply in that we are made to feel afraid; we are encouraged to scapegoat others, we have been told to covet money at all costs, even above humanity. Any sense of community has been washed away. We are afraid to talk to our neighbours. We benchmark success through celebrity culture. We are isolated through technology and absorbed into a world of hyper-real pastiche where you can spew hatred at other people you’ve never met based on misleading information and regurgitated soundbites generated by an algorithm. Understand that all of this is designed to keep us looking outwards, to put responsibility elsewhere, and to stop us from realizing our true conscious potential as human beings.
But what if we changed the way we thought. Ultimately, this is about what is right and wrong on a spiritual level and completely ignorant of epic social structures. To quote the late Bill Hicks, our existence is “Only a choice. No effort, no work, no job, no savings of money. Just a simple choice, right now, between fear and love”. What is stopping us from accepting others, valuing human existence, abandoning our need to be validated by others, talking to our neighbours, helping someone in hard times, listening, talking, embracing each other’s pain, accepting our broken relationships and agreeing to love our children unconditionally and free from our own shortcomings. These are all choices. These are all things over which we can consciously decide upon and that no one and nothing else can ever overpower. Positive change can be made instantaneously, and if everyone on this planet decided to do this today the impact would be seismic. Like Spring warming Winter, we could shift ourselves into a new unprecedented existence.
Now, believe it or not, I’m a realist. I know that what I’m suggesting is, on such an immediate and grand scale, somewhat unrealistic. However, isn’t it interesting to think that we could ALL impact change simply through positive moral human choice? Just through ethical application and consideration as to why we feel the way we do about things. What is right and wrong. What kind of world do we want to see? How would I want to be treated? WHAT…IS…HUMAN? Now, its easy to rebut all of this by saying that humans are not made up simply of positive attributes, that greed and aggression and selfishness are sewn intrinsically into our DNA, and actually, I agree. But this doesn’t supersede choice, and what it might elude to is that our actions can lazily be excused as predetermined. So, if I stood up right now and murdered someone, well, it was because I was human and I couldn’t help it because that’s my predisposition.
And so I think we can do better. Yes, negativity surrounds us, and we are choking. But if we evolve our inward looking glass in a different way, then as an earthquake of thought it could ripple outwards eventually penetrating our political systems, and maybe, just maybe, we would see some cracks start form in the bricks of this old and imposing house that we all currently all have to live in. At the very least we become better individually, and live happier, more human lives.
Change can happen. Individuals can change. Individuals are the agents of change, and believe it or not, have to prelude change on any bigger scale. Sometimes it’s an individual choice. But it can be instantaneous and immediate. And when governments fail us, when society suffocates us, please remember how powerful a concept it is that your consciousness is a democracy of one.