The times we exist in are interesting and unsettling at the same time, energies constantly shift so that there is no longer a sense of stability as we once knew earlier in our lives. The things we long held to be true are cast in new light and uncertainty becomes the new norm. The tools required for dealing with this situation have been formed over years yet there doesn’t seem to be an instruction manual, thus this is a real learning on the job experience. I can’t quite place my finger on the point when things shifted, somehow it seems there was a gradual creep and we were perhaps too distracted to notice what what happening; for when things are in slow motion and in front of you each day it’s difficult to discern the changes, for so incremental are they in nature as to be imperceptible.
Finding an equilibrium under these conditions becomes the main task, for everything requires a foundation. Somehow the situation is similar to there constantly being mini-earthquakes, there’s little time to find that foundation and thus in the absence of rock we are wise to move with fluidity, like water. The idea of flow is now central to our existence. Our daily interactions find us colliding with others in the same situation, often just trying to keep it together. Some have the bravery to allude to their disquiet about the situation whilst others resolve to put a brace face on things — only exacerbating the cognitive dissonance we sense with every sinew in our bodies. Just how is it possible that we find ourselves enslaved in the multitude of ways that are now no longer science-fiction, but daily reality? Some espouse the idea of rejecting it all and withdrawing to a life of solitude, self-sufficient and disconnected from that which they can no longer bare, unaware that by just giving up on everything and everyone nothing can change as a result of it, and by checking out of society the good that finds revulsion in the current state of affairs will no longer be passed down to future generations. Others feel that only activism and direct engagement will bring about the necessary changes to rectify the situation without realising that anger and alienation will only cause deeper divides between people that may trigger conflict and violence.
With the constant manipulation of information and the requirement to fact-check each tiny thing for fear it has been misrepresented we find ourselves debilitated from having a fluent conversation — this staccato of soundbites we are surrounded by is all disinformation and no wisdom. We can learn more about life and the world by reading the great novels of the past couple of centuries than we can from taking in any television, radio or internet news which can surely now be sidelined and considered not only untrustworthy but deliberately misleading. There are no arbiters of truth, no checks, no balances, no penalties for spreading untruths.
Worse yet, the deliberate destruction wrought upon our education systems with an eye on producing subservient workers just smart enough to do the job but utterly incapable of filtering information, thinking about motives, reading between the lines and critically assessing a situation has utterly destroyed and undermined democracy. There is no joy in being aware of this, no sense of superiority or feeling of anything but sadness — what were humans have in the space of just 33 years become mere consumers. Grazing, breathing, shopping breeding. What civilisation we once knew that took a good couple of thousand years to be formed is being dismantled before our eyes and somehow we watch on in awe, with a feeling of powerlessness and resignation.
At this point I wish I could turn to a grand proposal as to how we can avert this decay and take back the world we once knew to be orderly and righteous. But of course such nostalgia is a delusion — it never existed and we never had the guts to stand up against wrongs perpetrated against others who were not of our clan. Panacea is a delusion. There is perhaps one lesson that we can draw from our recent history — an oft-forgotten story of a shipyard worker called Lech Wałęsa from a Port on the Baltic called Gdańsk. He founded a movement of the workers that united against the Occupying Communist Government of Poland, controlled by the USSR — his movement was called Solidarity. Now since that time Wałęsa has become drunk on his success, denounced as an agent and many other tragedies that may befall a man after doing great deeds. Yet the fact remains that in the face of great oppression only great courage and the willingness to co-operate with others will do.
It appears to me that the forces working against us are so complex and duplicitous that they know all too well how to hide their agendas and appear as benevolent souls and organisations — and thus direct resistance is futile. They operate much as a starfish does — if you cut off part of the starfish the two parts remain alive and can operate independently of each other. For fear of sounding like an eastern mystic suggesting things that seem impossible let me float the idea that the only way we can make things better is from inside. We don’t have to accept the conditioning, we can talk openly with those close to us and also those we don’t even know. Think of the liberation of a discussion in a bar with someone you don’t even know — you can say what you want because you may never see them again. That level of engagement is what we all need, not this censored, sanitised, politically correct version of ourselves that is little but a projection of who we want to be seen as. If we find the courage inside ourselves to connect with one another then with open hearts and minds we cannot be divided.
The tragedy of where we are today is that we meekly allow ourselves to be divided on an arbitrary basis. Classified by value of passport. Judged by the acceptability of religious belief. The great tragedies of today are avoidable by the simple act of humanity of granting humans in need safe passage and helping them to find new places to live. With the demographic crises faced in Europe that may not be such a bad idea — or who will work whilst everyone collects their fat pensions and goes on holiday? It cannot be said that there is no room because when flying in an aeroplane across the continent a great deal of free space can be observed. Where there are now cities there was once just fields. I’m not suggesting we turn everything into cities and town, but perhaps it’s possible to disperse people across the continent so that we can all enjoy a decent standard of living? Courage. The lack of fear — the bravery to walk a path unknown, to break with the past and imagine a future; indeed make it happen. Solidarity is a word you don’t hear very often and that, in itself, may be worth thinking about.