Although many of us feel relatively happy & content there seems to be an increasing feeling of ‘unease’, that something is not quite right in/with our society and where things might be heading.
In a typical human fashion, we point the finger to certain (external) factors, failed ideologies (be it capitalism, neo-liberalism, communism, or whatever), and we love to blame (the) politicians. Our usual instinctive reaction is therefore to run or turn away from the ‘wrongs’, the ‘dangers’, to give in to our fears and biases. We run away rather than make a stand and formulate an alternative, a blueprint for a better world, which is so much harder as it takes time to think, to reflect, and a lot of courage.
If I had to make a wish-list of what I’d like to see more of, in my more immediate circle, but also in our society at large than it would be companionship, community spirit, compassion, and passion. Let me explain.
One of the strongest human desires is to belong, to be part of something bigger and/or unifying. Exclusion and becoming a ‘social pariah’ can have tragic consequences and be fatal, literally. Paradoxically, therefore, is the ever-increasing focus on the individual, the personal choice & responsibility, the egotistical pursuit of success, instant gratification, happiness, that slowly but surely undo the fine fabric of our society that used to be more cohesive.
Which human interactions or values are still resisting the onslaught of neo-liberal ideology and capitalist free-market conditioning? Are these perhaps the most essential to our survival and thus to our evolution?
Besides the urge to find a mate to procreate and be intimate with the closest & deepest bonds we form are with friends and family. We do things for friends without being asked or expecting even anything in return – it is almost (?) instinctively understood and accepted as part and foundation of (the) friendship. In other words, friendship is priceless! Still. I don’t want to quibble about semantics and for the sake of convenience I consider mateship, friendship, companionship as synonymous.
Instead of looking after number One and trying to get one up on/over the other we should look after each other, and show more collegiality and companionship. The benefits are huge, mentally, psychologically, socially, and will shift the focus away from tiresome and often counter-productive competition. When the focus is on the interaction with a fellow human rather on what we can get from the interaction, as in a ‘transaction’, we cannot fail to ‘gain’ from it and become ‘enriched’ – suffice to say that these terms are now removed from their usual neo-liberal context.
The bonds we form with our own kin may have a strong evolutionary basis. Again, we do not expect a pecuniary return from everything we do; it is instinctive. We don’t (need to) keep a tally of ‘favours’ we have given or received; we do what needs to be done and because the personal boundaries are less clear giving often feels like receiving at the same time. This may not be altruism in its purest sense but I don’t see any problem with a simultaneous act of giving-receiving and please-thank you because you feel more one with the other person(s) beforehand and because through the act itself makes you feel even closer afterwards. It is actually amazingly simple when you think about it (or even better: when you experience it).
If in future work is to take a less important role, by choice or by force, then we need to have a safety net. Not in terms of a financial buffer (or worse: WINZ), which is a separate issue, as inconceivable as this may sound, but an environment that gives us a sense of worth, dignity, respect, purpose, and belonging (certainly not WINZ!). It makes sense that the (local) community can provide this kind of safety net and support. This support should be mutual; you give back to the community what you receive, although this may sounds very much like a business deal/transaction or an insurance contract. However, it is more multi-dimensional than materialism alone could ever be; it includes all levels & dimensions of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. A community is a place & environment where people can develop and create as individuals but also co-create and explore their full human potential.
If people have no work to commute to, if they can find more services and goods locally, it may ease pressures on the environment. Modern technology can be used to streamline the logistics of trafficking in goods that have to come from elsewhere. Obviously, virtual communities do already exist without geographical boundaries and with the light speed of the internet.
It goes without saying, I think, that feeling close to others, be they friends, family, or the wider (local) community, should go hand-in-hand with compassion. However, this compassion should go beyond one’s nearest & dearest and include ‘strangers’ alike. I also like to think that the World we live in would instantly become a better place if we were to feel and show more compassion towards animals as well as to the long-suffering (!) environment. Perhaps this kind of attitude goes under a different name(s) bsocialut my point is that if we don’t change our attitudes we cannot expect things to change in a (the?) direction we wish.
This brings me to passion. If we were to do things with more conviction, and upon reflection, and to put our hearts & souls into it, i.e. with passion, we would have more rewarding and authentic experiences. Our actions should align with our being and by our actions we constantly create and re-create ourselves and our World. We might ditch the superficial stuff, the stuff that neither defines us nor gets us anywhere that is meaningful. Passion is considered a powerful emotion that we can choose to guide us and we can choose to invoke. Our power stems from our internal strength, because we know who we are and we choose, willingly & knowingly, and with passion & purpose.
Airy-fairy? Flights of fancy? Wishful thinking? Dreaming? Perhaps yes, but we need to have Utopian ideals and dreams to get us to a better World so we have to start somewhere, don’t we? It is up to each of us.
2) Obviously, the first letters of the four title words abbreviate to CCCP. A little contrived but for some reason it appeals to me and it is a nod to Jean-Luc Mélenchon who had to bow out of the French presidential election.