“We are ripening, ripening together. Babies, elders, bozos and angels. This is how we grow, this is how we get to know. This is family. This is sacred.” - Buffy Sainte Marie
When trying to navigate and create a life for themselves in the economic reality of our time, an increasing number of youth are expressing feelings of hopelessness, depression and isolation. In the above video, renowned physician Gabor Maté introduces the idea of how our common conception of what is normal is contributing to a deterioration of our global household - and home. Is it too late to turn our economic soil from a cold, isolating experience for young saplings - to a warm, thriving, regenerative environment, ignited with the natural forces of transformation?
Redefining the inherent value of simply being human
Success in the current economic system, does not depend on who you are, but how you add monetary value to the machine, what you produce and consume. This is also why less value is given to the older generation - if they do not produce or consume anything of perceived value, they are sidelined and regarded as broken goods. Because the very nature of neoliberal economics places value on our external production, and not our inner evolution, it causes and promotes a separation from ourselves, which in turn feeds the breakdown of community. The common conception of the economic system as a machine with different working components, separated into production units of land, labor and money, leads to thinking that if we do cannot fit into the machine, we are not even worth our own inhales and exhales.
As put by Maté, “Our current situation is a culture manufactured, idealizing individualism, destroying social context, ignores our emotional needs. There is an intelligence in nature, which - if we ignore - will create suffering. For many decades now, we have been nurturing a consumption-driven, materialistic monoculture, in which the ‘normal’ has produced nothing but shells, ghosts and dis-ease.” The first ones to blame for discouraging trend are often politicians, bureaucracy, or policy makers in the health- and education sector, when in fact this too is a problem rooted in the inability of neo-liberal economics to provide inclusive nurturing ground for the abnormal - the force of movement. Many people also find the problem of economic system failure just too large to take in, due to the all-embracing vastness of its web. This however, stems in part from the western mind's tendency towards individualistic thought-patterns, not realizing the power of change inherent in the coming-together of our global village - and the greatness in our own uniqueness.
Normal is a myth. Normal reinforces the current paradigm. Normal keeps the system operating in hibernation mode. Normal does not cultivate and nurture the compost of economic activity, but its perceived existence enforces a stale, stagnant mass of confused human bacteria immersed in a decaying layer of untapped progress. Krishnamurti once said, “it is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.” So how then do we move from one mental construct to another, and how do we re-program the conception of what creates value in today’s society? How do we plant the positive seed of creative difference?
Cultivating healthy mind-soil for a resilient, social harvest
We need to change the very lens we use to define the purpose of economic activity. Away from infinite growth, twisting and skyrocketing out of proportion - towards cultivating a healthy, dynamic field of mind-soil, which can ensure a resilient social harvest grounded in respect for natural resources. By creating options for reconnecting with nature, facilitating the sprouting generation of change makers - where differences are celebrated rather than medicated. Where the focus is placed on individual skills and capabilities rather than forcing our youth into the straightjacket of an education system which has failed to deliver its original purpose - to make us productive energy-centers for a thriving society.
Knowing the above, - how do we make the first step? First of all, it helps to know that the change is already upon us. The idea of Self in the global village economy is changing, greening, flow-ering. The very idea of ‘human’ is undergoing a transformation, which will provide a new fuel to our economy. When we strip down all the notions of Self we have built up through years of conditioning, we are left in a naked state, where the only thing that really matters is our relative position in our surroundings - our connection to nature. And in nature, every thought matters. Every intention has an effect on the larger whole. What we identify with consolidates a truth we step into, and a space from which our decisions are made.
By recognizing the potential in higher forms of social and economic organization, such as alternative education, sharing-platforms, crowdfunding and block-chain technology, we have begun growing a new economy from the very core of our current reality - a 'we-culture' which thrives on the natural forces of diversity, and not our skewed conceptions and limited understanding of value and normality. Constructive use of technology, plus online and offline community building, will gather us across common challenges, and in turn, decentralize the efforts to recognize both the causes and solutions. By breaking the ‘myth of normal’, we burst open a space for expansion of the human identity, intertwined in mutually enforcing relationships, and rooted in the most profound natural force of them all - love.
Challenge yourself to re-imagine your own identity. Find a practice of balancing your mind, and explore the exercise of positive disintegration. Remind yourself that you are a part of an organic dance, where all units play an important part of the maturing whole.
Send energy in the direction where you want to see positive change. Recognize that money is also condensed energy, the result of human and natural forces. The way you use it sets an intention for how society and our ecology is shaped. Effective use of money is effective use of energy. Money is also seed, and you reap what you sow.
Make a conscious effort to contribute to your local community. Begin co-creating a vision together, grounded in a heart-mind connection and a genuine bodhicitta aspiration, to alleviate the suffering of nature and all living beings. If your community is not local at this time, have patience, and don’t be scared to design the necessary changes in your life in order to get there.