Our society is going through very challenging times. A large part of the world is in part or full lockdown, and life as we knew it has changed a lot, at least for the immediate future. In these times of challenge, stress and change, we had hoped that society would come together. That we would support each other and help each other, respect and look after each other. Instead, we have seen the divide go from a little tear to a huge chasm.
Everywhere in the world there are massive arguments. Society has been divided up into those who believe there is a virus and those that do not. A division between those that want everything to open up and get the economy going and those that would prefer lockdown to save as many lives as possible. It is frankly scary to see people laughing at others because they wear a mask, getting angry at people for not shaking their hand and making fun of people trying to physical distance. We are now living in a society where respect for other humans and the environment we live in has gone.
For so many years most of Western society has been having this huge party. Everything was possible, you could have anything instantly. Materialism, instant gratification and everyone’s few minutes of fame became the norm for many in western civilisation. Instead of functioning as individuals being part of a whole, most became individuals focused on self. The amount of selfies on social media shows how self absorbed we all are. Artificial Intelligence is manipulating us through social media into becoming a different person. Or pushing us further in the direction where we were heading, to the point of becoming fixated. Our feelings of empathy towards others are disappearing, and the world is now becoming all about “ME”.
In tribal situations years ago, there was no word for “I”. Everything was “WE”. People are reliant on other people. Sharing, teaching, learning, creating, laughter, crying, communicating, working and playing are all things that are enriched when done as a community. We are all on this planet together. We need each other. There is no “ME” without “YOU”.
When the coronavirus situation first reared its head, the world seemed to slow down. There was a sense of relief and peace, if only for a short amount of time. It didn’t last long however, and people immersing themselves more into social media became more fixated on whatever they focused on. We left the beautiful moments like people singing together on their balconies behind, and stumbled into disagreements, violence and antisocial behaviour. This may be because people thought this situation would be over by now. People thought it was only temporary. But what people forget is that natural processes take long. There is no instant gratification in this virus situation. We need time, and people have run out of patience as they no longer know how to wait for good things to happen.
We thought that a pandemic situation would be the great equaliser, instead we have seen many very wealthy individuals profit from the situation and not give anything back. The divide between rich and poor has increased many more times due to this situation, instead of evening the odds. We thought there may be less rubbish now, instead we see face masks and other PPE end up in the oceans, and disposable coffee cups and take away containers being used more now than ever. We thought governments may finally see the damage that we do to the environment, and its consequences. Instead we see more government funding for fossil fuel and other unsustainable projects.
We are heading for a time where we will not be able to get things instantly. This is not only due to the virus situation, it is due to what is happening with the planet. Places where there should be Arctic Ice now still have not frozen over. Permafrost is no longer frozen. Massive methane bubbles are no longer held back by frost and can explode into the atmosphere at any time, exacerbating the warming effect. We are experiencing more large fires, hurricanes and cyclones, flooding and other natural disasters. What is happening on the planet will affect growing, mining and distribution. Now more than ever we need community so that we can support each other and trade locally.
Trading punches about what is true or not when you get all your information on social media (which is driven by Artificial Intelligence, and only feeds you what you want to hear and see) is just silly. We should no longer be talking about politics, health, environment or society, it is time to start thinking and talking about the survival of the human species. Humans have modified this planet into a place where human life may become impossible. We must focus our efforts on how we can ensure we can survive as humans on this changing planet. For this we need local, physical community. We need to start thinking as “WE” again.
The solutions are simple. Pre-industrialised civilisation functioned perfectly well for millennia. Small, self governed and self reliant tribes can flourish. With our knowledge now, we can take the best of the past and the most sustainable of the future and create healthy, thriving societies. But first we need to come together and start respecting each other and the planet again. We need to look at ourselves as a part of the whole, not as the whole itself.