Unintentionally, a fair few of my recent posts have been circling in on ideas around understanding – this sense in which our minds attempt to keep pace with reality, hopefully making sense of things and finding constructive ways forward (see Notes One). Understanding being one of the main capacities that sets us apart as humans, it’s perhaps not unreasonable to ask how well it’s holding up against modern living.
As beings capable of thought, it’s intriguing to consider what we make of life: how everything’s passing into our minds, creating our sense of meaning, guiding our ideas of how to be. All the ways we’re receiving feedback around what we’re doing, what it means for others, the impacts we’re having and value we’re bringing to life through our presence.
It just seems, in a way, that life flows through us. Over time, developing into these trends or threads: areas of human endeavour and expertise; shared insights, breakthroughs, or battles; this pooled history of experience and meaning we can all dip into. It’s surely this process of understanding? Of coming to know, appreciate, value and relate ourselves to what’s gone before, and learning to stand within that (Notes Two).
Then, we come across those challenges that seem fairly unique to modern humanity: navigating the application of technology; maintaining true relationship within this illusion of heightened connectivity; seeing what’s really going on, the effect we’re having, and how that might shift the ‘bigger picture’ of our lives together on earth; finding our place within it all (Notes Three).
In so many ways, modern life can seem ‘less real’ while simultaneously creating global impacts on levels never before possible. Wrapping our heads around the nature of those realities, the very real impacts our almost deceptively easy online actions are having, is quite a feat for the imagination: to bear in mind all those consequences we’re causing but never really seeing.
It’s interesting how much has been taken off our hands and made easy, invisible, and careless. These fickle, surging trends that now sweep the globe, leaving us musing over what’s left in their wake. It seems we struggle to lift our understanding of it much beyond ‘recognition’ – a cataloguing of what’s happening rather than a concerted, coherent response.
Modern trends of communication and innovation are clearly shaking up all that went before: disrupting traditions, established institutions and patterns of behaviour. There was presumably meaning and intention in those things? Each culture’s evolved responses to life’s challenges. We’d achieved some level of understanding, then the tornado of modern life swept through.
And perhaps that’s simply exciting: fresh air, blowing the cobwebs away, casting new light on how things have been. But, of course, it’s going to be confronting. Did we understand fully? Have we been passing on the right things? Can we relate to those who’ve taken different paths, with different ideas?
Is it still possible to understand life in such a way that all this makes sense and we can find purpose within it?
Notes and References:
Note 1: The power of understanding
Note 1: If society’s straining apart, what do we do?
Note 1: Can we manage all-inclusive honesty?
Note 1: Making adjustments
Note 2: The dignity & power of a human life
Note 2: Meaning within it all
Note 3: Working through mind & society
Note 3: All that’s going on around us
Note 3: Cutting corners
This also reminds me of Intrinsic values on the paths for change? which asked questions around the insight and motivation of our actions.