Then we have the everyday experiences with large corporations we deal with where customer service is so often a byword with absolutely no meaning in the 'real' world. At every turn there seem to be cutbacks in staffing both in the private and public sectors and I have to ask, ‘What’s going on?’ We keep getting increases in fees for services and corporations report huge profits yet they seem to need to cut back staff on a regular basis and often claim they don’t have the money to pay decent wages to the ones who are left.
The talk is of recession and countries going broke yet somebody’s making some very big money in the middle of all this. So I keep asking, ‘What’s changed?’
Here are a few of the changes I’ve observed in my lifetime that seem to be related to this decline:
On the individual level
1) We’ve become a debt based economy. The advent of credit cards and high interest debt changed the way we live in ways I can only begin to fathom.
2) We want, want, want and we are willing to owe, owe, owe to get, get, get.
3) The amount of ‘stuff’ individuals are accumulating is mind boggling (notice the number of storage places that have popped up in the past 25 years or so).
4) We’d rather mask problems than face them for the most part.
5) We’ve become totally distracted by the desire to be entertained. Even churches have become entertainment centres in order to attract and keep followers. Notice the amount of money entertainers and sports figures command. That’s only possible because of the amount of money we are willing to spend to keep ourselves distracted so we won’t have to feel too much despair, unhappiness or lack of fulfillment.
On the business level
1) The economy is dominated by large, publicly traded corporations where the owners are stock holders who have no investment or interest other than financial. As a result the sense of pride in ownership and service mindedness that goes with that have all but disappeared. Employees seem to be the most disposable assets.
2) Lots of small businesses start up but few succeed because we are so conditioned through advertising and such to go for the well known brands.
3) The large pharmaceutical companies fund most of the medical training and so doctors are taught to treat with drugs. The amounts spent on prescription and non prescription drugs today are staggering.
4) Big banks and big business appear to be the ones really running our countries at least here in the West.
5) Oil companies, fearing they may lose control and money seem to be blocking a lot of the progress that could be made in finding other sustainable energy sources.
On a global level there are just so darn many of us on the planet now. No matter what else we do, somehow we need to deal with the overpopulation situation.
These are just a few of the changes that readily come to mind, there are many more no doubt.
So what do we do given where we are?
Here are a few thoughts that come to mind.
First, we need to face what is going. Putting our heads in the sand and trying to ignore it all doesn’t seem to work very well. Believe me, I’ve tried. Thinking positive is great as long as it isn’t about avoiding but rather being unconditionally present and able to see beyond limitation .
Then we need to take a big breath and own it all. It’s so easy to point fingers and blame ‘them’. We may not see exactly how we’re responsible but if there is a willingness to see that we are all in this together then perhaps we can join in more meaningful ways to make necessary changes.
Of course it would be very helpful to notice what beliefs and assumptions we’ve been making that contribute to the situation. If we can compassionately inquire into these stories we have about the way life is and bring peace to the emotions engendered by those beliefs perhaps we can find compassionate and peaceful ways of evolving into something more tenable for everyone. Otherwise, if we keep avoiding and projecting ideas that aren’t actually working to make anything better onto the world we only maintain the status quo or dig ourselves even deeper into the mire.
Then from a place of peace and openness we are better able to see other possibilities and make choices based on what is truly important to us as part of the whole rather than from a limited, fear based position.
Some of the possibilities that come to mind include:
a) We might start buying more quality and less quantity, supporting more businesses that are locally owned.
b) What if instead of running out and creating more debt by buying things we don’t need to make ourselves feel better, we spent more time doing things that are meaningful and fun.
c) We may possibly look at our investments and see if there are other options that may be more in alignment with our values.
d) Perhaps we might partner with others to provide services that contribute to wellbeing rather than just economic gain.
The possibilities are only as limited as we are.
In this year of the protest, it’s important to realize that even if protests should bring about wanted change, there needs to be a change in consciousness to sustain it. Compassionate, connected commitment to living authentically and responsibly is a powerful way to bring about sustainable, inclusive and effective change in the world.