Is there a way out of this craziness?

Checking in with myself, checking on myself: What is present right now? Where am I at physically, mentally, emotionally and with my energy level? I am at my Grandpa’s place. It is a quiet Sunday morning. The weather has been turning colder and wetter these past couple of days – autumn is here. I had a good night’s sleep and started the day with a mindful, slow yoga session. Then a quick shower, a plate of fruit for breakfast. Tea. It does not take much to feel alive. I am here, feeling present and awake, feeling the warmth and softness of the clothes on my skin, feeling my belly stretch as I breathe in. The chair I am sitting on, my sockless feet in the slippers I borrowed from my mother. The freshness of the air coming in through the tilted window.

Many people are worried right now about what the winter will bring.

Will they be able to pay the bills? To heat their homes? How much higher will the cost of living rise? What will that do to society, to economy? No-one knows for sure. Am I worried, too? Sometimes I am. And sometimes I trust that we will find a way to navigate these times. Might they become an opportunity to realize that sharing is not a loss but a win?

What if giving, caring and generosity would become the new status symbol?

Instead of boasting about the fancy things you can afford and feeling great about what sets you apart, share a bit of what you have with others. The thought of how much money is still being spent for luxury follies makes my belly twist. Designer handbags, cruise holidays, motor yachts, NFTs and virtual possessions in the Metaverse – the list goes on. Why? Because people want to feel special. Everybody wants to belong and feel valued. That’s human and that’s OK.

I reckon it is about the choices you make on how to act on these needs.

Many people try to fill this void of longing for recognition and belonging inside them with goods and experiences. Sounds like a nice idea, except that the void is infinite. With everything you acquire, you feel pleased for a short time, but the nagging feeling of not having it good enough comes creeping up on you again as soon as you compare yourself to others and find that you’re still not quite “there” yet. It’s just that “there” will never come. “There” is the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

The narratives of capitalism, the lures of marketing – they are all a massive scam.

And there is no easy way out. If people would stop buying stupid things, many businesses would go out of business, many people would lose their jobs and that is the specter that brings most conversations around capitalism to a standstill. “People losing jobs? We cannot have that!” It seems like we’re stuck with a system that we ourselves created. Prisoners in a cage we built. Or are we? Maybe there is room for an economy that is good for all, not just for a few people. Maybe people who lose their jobs can find other places to work, where their skills generate real value.

“The global west” is on the decline. We’re realizing that we’re in the minority.

One thing I have understood in the past couple of weeks is that people living in democratic societies are in the minority on this planet. “The west” as we know it is losing its power and influence. Societies like China, India, Russia, and many African countries feel it should be their turn now to prosper and have their say on how the world should look like. Here it is again, this human need to belong and feel valued and special. It’s the same thing that makes you buy designer shoes – just on a bigger scale. Instead of going shopping, they invade a neighboring country. Instead of posting pics about their heliskiing trip, they organize a summit with their fellow, like-minded bullies, and plot schemes.  

The mechanisms we observe on global scale are fueled by the same needs as on an individual level.

It’s the same infinite void at play and it will never be filled. On some level I can understand this defiant form of revenge. “The west” has exploited, used and betrayed societies and natural resources for its own benefit for decades, for centuries even.

So here is my proposal for a way out of this:

  1. Saying sorry and owning the mistakes of the past
  2. Helping people understand that the void is infinite and that everyone has it
  3. Offering an alternative: Caring and sharing as the new status symbol

What do you think? Could that work?

Wishing you a relaxing Sunday, wherever this finds you.

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