At times I’ve compared modern life to a tornado or a merging of waters, wondering how long it’ll take us to find our feet and recover our edge in that disrupted world (Notes One). It’s this sense in which our way of living has been dialled up, many of the restrictions and forces of containment removed, leaving us at the helm of this strangely undefined yet powerful freedom.
It’s obviously a comment about technology, although that’s not something I want to revisit here. We all know tech is changing how we live, affecting us all personally within our lives and relationships as much as through the impacts it’s having socially and globally. This is undeniably a hugely potent force that’s reshaping what it means to be human, with consequences being felt across the planet.
As I’ve said in many of those posts though, perhaps the more important thing to engage with is understanding where we stand as humans? If we know what we’re doing, using more powerful tools needn’t be a problem (Notes Two). It’s so easy to blame the tool and, in many ways, they are causing problems; but any tool’s essentially an inanimate object. The onus is surely on us to use them wisely?
With that, then, we’re talking about society rather than technology. We’re facing up to how well we understand the realities we’ve been born into, and how well we’re serving to uphold or improve them. We’re asking difficult questions about the nature of the systems we have in place and how they might evolve further (Notes Three).
Ideally, I suppose, we’d live in a world where education and the media fostered a deep understanding and working knowledge of our shared systems? A realistic appreciation of what they’re offering and the value our contributions have throughout the fabric of society. A firm grasp of the roles we and others play, how that fits together, and the importance of everyone’s participation.
In a perfect world, I’d imagine everyone would feel valued and respected? In a well-structured society that balances freedom with responsibility, surely people could all flourish and give the best of themselves, knowing their efforts harmonised with the whole and would be appreciated by their community. If we knew what we stood within, its value, and that our active engagement was valued, would we ever jeopardise that?
Of course, I tend to think modern society doesn’t quite value things rightly (Notes Four). It seems we treat people poorly yet expect them to remain invested in the social realities we share. I’m not sure how we plan to be so careless yet arrive at life-affirming outcomes.
All this then circles in on the sense of what we’re all part of and the need to understand and act responsibly within it. Appreciating the ideas underpinning society, prioritising essentials over the non-essential, working those values more fully into the lives we share, not being distracted or thrown off course by the choppiness of modern life? These are huge challenges.
Notes and References:
Note 1: Ideas that tie things together
Note 1: Thoughts on art & on life
Note 2: How important is real life?
Note 2: Tools
Note 2: Cutting corners
Note 2: Making adjustments
Note 3: What holds it all together
Note 3: If society’s straining apart, what do we do?
Note 3: Passivity, or responsibility
Note 4: Interdependency
Note 4: Worthless, or priceless?
Plucking at a similar metaphor around how we navigate modern life, was Who should we trust?