Is this the Paradigm Shift we have been waiting for?
A new earth is coming. This is not an upgrade to our operating systems nor a faster USB connection. No special shipping while you sit comfortably. There is no app for this. It is the birth of a conscious recognition that we are connected, for better or worse, to each other and this beautiful planet and it took a pandemic to break our sleep walk.
This pandemic is not a punishment or a crisis but a symptom of a failing social dysfunction and urbanization made for and by technology and commerce rather than for living systems. Have we become so unimaginative that we cannot perceive a different way out except what we are told is ‘normal’? This psychic oppression collectively adds to our age of anxiety consisting of climate and environmental concerns, economic and social inequality. Like any psychotherapy, there is no use going through the process of healing just to return to a sick society. The true crisis is our failure to take care of each other in ways that seem so foreign to a consumerist culture. With our attention divided, we have separated ourselves too long from the most influential and responsible institutions of politics and education. Now, we are forced to look in the mirror.
In a culture where the prevailing ethic is the strongest wins, we all lose. I’ve just listened to a recorded lecture by Dr. Stephen Bezruchka on COVID-19 and capitalism, a brilliant expose on the shortcomings of a myopic market that bends to those who profit both in its upswings and downturns, unlike most of us. The biggest single factor in the health of a population is inequality. Unequal societies are more stressed, less happy, and have more risk factors. Certainly, people in poverty have the greatest risk. Our elders have also come to the forefront, underscoring our eroding value of human life, revealing that the no longer economically viable shall be cast aside and forgotten. Conditions in which we have placed many of our seniors have shown themselves to be places of loneliness and filth, a perfect breeding ground for a disease of any kind to spread. Perhaps we should make observation of these types of social conditions mandatory for school projects.
Our normal also includes technological addictions that are devastating mostly young men. Jane McGonigal, director of game research and development at the Future Institute in Palo Alto, California, estimates that the average young person will spend 10,000 hours gaming by the age of twenty-one. In contrast, it takes a university student 4,800 hours to earn a degree. All this sitting has contributed to the fattest generation in the history of humanity. Over seventy percent of adult males in the US are overweight and a third are obese. In the last three decades, not a single country has lowered their obesity rates. Lack of nutrition and exercise has also led to cognitive and emotional dysfunctions which will reveal itself over time as another epidemic of mental disorders. Addictions, rather than critical thinking are already leading most of our human behavior. Other health statistics follow suit if you are prepared to go down the rabbit hole.
The future will be very different than to what we have been conditioned. In his article, Prepare for the Ultimate Gaslighting, Julio Vincent Gambuto suggested during this ‘great pause’ that we not buy into the notion that the changes we are thinking of making are too great and that a return to ‘normal’ is our best option. We have a chance to shape our future, finally, for all of us, not for the billionaire class, not for the stock market. If we don’t realize what is truly important at a time like a pandemic, then perhaps we should evaluate what progress means at all. There is no such thing as a viable democracy made up of experts, politicians and spectators. We need a shift — a tipping point. Perhaps this is it. Let’s all get involved in shaping our future together.