I have a dream, and hope that I’m not the only one. I see a world reactive to civilization’s events, but lack the conviction, drive and motivation to create the circumstances that would allow us to thrive. On a daily basis, we negotiate three separate realms: The internal and mental machinations; the economy, the lifeblood of our society; and, the culture that we interact with. All affect each other.
Our thoughts, feelings, and instincts come from within. Our brain tells us what we sense, reminds us of what we know, and alerts us to what the body wants. Unfortunately, we don’t always understand what it’s telling us. Worsening the situation, we are knocked senseless by our food and drugs, both becoming more synthetic by the day.
Fuelling our mind and body, food and drugs determine which lens we view the world through and how clear those concepts are. Sadly, our view has become distorted with false and biased information, and we are failing to thoroughly question what’s being presented on our plates and in our prescriptions. Complexity further blurs the path to proper development, to the point where the basics, like eating, can no longer be straightforward and it seems that every bite we take will have dire consequences.
At the external end of the equation, the complexities multiply as the line between needs and wants becomes less obvious. The fantastic is replaced by the mundane, as imagination takes the backseat to bureaucracy, and innovation becomes a childhood dream. Our values are set on an economic treadmill, where our worth is in our bling and our values reflected in our media consumption. Everything we require has a price, making our health, education and social needs anything but universal.
Our treatment to others rebounds in a likewise way. Have you ever had that day when you’re unable to shake off the misery and seem to find it in everyone you pass? The worst form comes as prejudice, a sort of extreme disdain. This negativity feeds upon itself, whereas positivity builds itself in a constructive way. The good day reflects itself as much as the bad.
Our democracy has been pirated by industry lobby groups, demanding payback for the political donations, usually for things that the public opposes. What power can a citizen attain in such a lopsided world? Cynicism breeds in such perfect conditions. What is one to do? Asking good questions is a start.
As we improve our physical and mental wellbeing, we must also attend to how we interact with our culture and environment. As our social strife and the environmental misbehaviour reveal, effects run both ways. What we do to our environment reflects the behaviour back at us. Have you ever failed to notice just how messy your room doesn’t seem until you need to find something? Our attitude towards the environment is very similar, where we are cogs in a much larger machine and our actions are but a ripple in the overall butterfly effect of environmental devastation.
The complexity that binds our mind, body, culture and economy is the natural ecology, where geography informs us when enough is enough and the environment reveals the power of its amplifier feedback. This is a question of international proportions. Whether it’s nuclear power gone wild, or raking away entire biospheres to feed the world’s richest; it’s those who neighbour the devastation, and rarely the culprits, who face the feedback. How could this be destroyed if we didn’t support it? Why do we support them? We don’t need a global economy to survive. There are other options.
This apathy empowers the industries that have the most to lose. As the economic landscape shifts, the older generation who gained the most has started losing ground. Cycling in more ‘political donations’ for them to maintain their grasp and kick away the competition, their fight to maintain the status quo has stifled society’s progression. If the system allows this bullying to continue, the system must be changed.
The mass of society empowers the institutions. Our wages and debt form the economy, and keep the industrial powers at the top. While the banks and corporations reap the rewards, we inject our lifeblood of time, indentured to the end, and sometimes beyond. Being good economic citizens has not improved our situation. It doesn’t need to be this way. We can break free of the dream to ‘make it big’. How about, instead, we aim to make it broad. Rather than becoming iconic, we aim to be effective?
Our culture grows on the structure of its institutions. Education, science, democracy and our values are all based on our interaction with them. Unfortunately we see them as too big for us to have any influence. We have stepped away from the controls and refuse to step back into the command position. The plague of capitalisum has crept in and injected its imperative into our cultural values.
Now we educate to conform rather than unleash creativity. Our education must shift from drone manufacturing into creating imagination machines. The recall of facts has no importance to anyone without effectively synthesizing it into the bigger picture. Rather than climb to heights of innovation, our education forces us into silos to help dig out the reductionist roots.
The economy has helped slant science away from the whole and fractured it into reductionism. The holistic picture becomes ever more complex, like putting together a puzzle where the pieces keep breaking apart. Now they’re unable to figure out why Nature’s results are greater than the sum of her parts. Pride magnifies animosity between specialties, nailed down to a chain of debt, stifling open-minded intercommunication. Life has too many unknowns for reductionists to acknowledge that it exists since it can’t be synthesized.
The first order of duty is to restore your health. Question the food you eat and drugs you take. The only one to look after your health is yourself, and if what you eat is frequently advertised then you may be causing yourself a whole lot of damage. Open a book and research the information. Question your doctor on what you’re prescribed, and investigate dietary changes that have proven very effective with many ailments. Never, however, go cold turkey on your prescriptions as this could do more harm than good. Alternative therapy exists, but tread carefully. And exercise should be a given.
Once the body’s physical inputs are purified, it’s time to put the mental house in order. The best approach is to reach out to others rather than to tough it out, though going alone has certain advantages as well. Though given a recent backlash, spirituality, and not necessarily an organized religion, is recovery’s best backer. Having a belief system in place will help combat the onslaught of cynicism. A belief is not your own, but a trait shared with a group that holds similar hopes. Hope drives us to the finish line, at times opposing all odds of success. With the power of this group, hope is possible. This is your community.
Rather than injecting your lifeblood solely into paying off debts and gadget-hunting, invest it in your community and reinvigorate that sense of hope. Social action and volunteerism are the quickest way to re-incorporation. But being involved must go beyond the cause and have a holistic sense of each action’s impact on the social ecology. This requires co-operation between all of the aid societies and it can evolve the social structure.
The bad news for the capitalist banking system is that sustainability works best with a local economy, not a global one. Local means supporting credit unions, using local dollars, or participating in a time bank system, to name a few. Numerous communities have succeeded and prospered on such alternate systems. A sustainable economy focuses on business conduct, product choice, food security, and responsible development. We must support social entrepreneurism, people and organizations working to better the social landscape through business and political means.
The sense of community requires a close analysis of how we relate to it. How do social conditions affect you? Where do you place yourself against the elite? What sense of interdependence do you feel with the environment around you? What sense of guardianship do you witness? It’s never too late to get involved, whether you stand for justice, a cause or institutional change. There are people out there working on it, and they need your help, be it donations or your time.
The best part is, we can make the changes we want because they are all human creations and we have a whole civilization of brilliance and passion that can make it happen. We can rationalize the complexities, gauge the probabilities, and create the kind of community that we can proudly hand over to our children. Overall, I probably could have shortened this to: Treat your body well, and then the world.