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In Love/Hate with the Modern World

It starts at the top. We all know that. What we don’t really know is who is truly at the top; it certainly isn’t a president, prime minister, nor a pope. Oligarchs? Clever (yet evil) aliens? Stonecutters? Regardless, our modern world is dependent on hierarchical structures of power — especially in government, industry, commerce, education, science, and religion — all of which are largely subservient to the market (capitalist) system. The system is obviously flawed, though this isn’t news to most of us.

In a world that allows the likes of Coca-Cola to influence policy at the highest levels, there is clearly something significantly out of balance. So long as there are astronomical profits to be made, anywhere on the planet (or even the solar system), corporations will continue to run amok with Earthly resources, to influence, bend and break laws, and to spread their toxicity, manipulating and harming the lives of humans wherever they go — until they’re exposed, caught or shut down. But, they can afford to pay the fees and penalties. They have teams of lawyers on staff. They have lobbyists, consultants, analysts, salespeople, and virtually unlimited financial resources to keep doing as they please. They seem untouchable, and that is the big lie.

There appears to be a tipping point in any corporate entity (and, historically, in every nation/state/empire) — which has been made quite evident by today’s tech giants. The more successful and enormous their venture, the more likely they will become evil — or the more likely they will shift toward behaviors that ensure some form of self-termination. Why is that? It can’t be just about money, right? Are these amoral, MBA-toting people that delusional, wilfully ignorant, cognitively and emotionally inept? Is it simply historical amnesia? In what reality is it justifiable to seek profits and power over the health and wellbeing of an entire species (or race)? In ours, apparently. Companies derived of the old business models will continue to suffer this inevitable ethical malady.

There needs to be a shift in the fundamental psychology, philosophy and thus the epistemology of business practices — a rebuild from the ground up. We see it today in small pockets of the corporate world, most prevalent in NGOs and nonprofits, and those starting a new country. These ground-level, systemic corrections will take a generation to replace and amend, if they happen at all. More important is the evolving paradigm shift in the consciousness of the consumerist masses and how they choose to earn, save, invest and spend their money — and, critically, how they define “money” now and into the future. To do that, we have to examine and unpack our values, beliefs, impulses, and intentions; our intrinsic and extrinsic ways of fostering and discerning meaning in the world today.

There is no singular fix to all of this. That fact alone is potentially overwhelming to those of us active and interested in elevating the human condition. Our world is in an evolutionary, emergent state of chaos and flux, and structures and frameworks we’ve relied upon heavily through the centuries are collapsing. The era of information, disclosure and increasing transparency has exposed us to innumerable reasons to distrust our leadership across societal, cultural, political and academic contexts. It has also, predictably, fostered a general distrust in ourselves, fanning the flames of depression, anxiety, and isolationism. Social media is a perfect example of our distancing emotionally/physically from each other, contrasted by the hyperactivity, uneasy interactivity, and up-to-the-second volatility of largely text-based, misinterpretation-laden — yet oddly personal, and quietly desperate — communication.

We’re getting to know a lot about each other, and the world, our history and the potential for distortions of information, while deferring a deeper knowing and wisdom about ourselves. I believe that today’s social media is a form of transition wherein we lay it all out there with increasing frequency and usefulness, thus preparing and impelling the broader collective toward something of greater stability and integrity. The internet and its dependencies and derivatives are still quite adolescent in nature. But the more we engage and intentionally, consciously direct our artful, creative, harmonizing human nature into it, the sooner it will evolve technologically and organically into a next-level complementarity we wish it to be.

That’s the ideal. However… something is rotten at the core of the Western world, and it needs addressing. When there are now more billionaires than ever before, there should likely be a lot more to go around; better (free, universal) healthcare, cheaper and higher quality housing, free, high-caliber education — right through to university levels, and a hell of a lot more that is certainly possible today. Yet, it is quietly being ignored, deferred, or made into a political issue, waiting to again be thrust upon those who can’t really afford to deal with it; the average citizen.

So, if we’re really the best and brightest, the most informed, and the most capable of amazing technological advancements, and sociopolitical reform, why is there such a perpetual, life-sucking disturbance in the force?

Solvitur ambulando