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Making ends meet

When we talk of making ends meet, it’s often a statement related to individuals: how well we’re balancing desire with capacity and finding the financial resources to square away all the essential items that make up our lives. Beyond that, though, isn’t it also a description of society? A sense of how well personal and collective interests marry up into a workable whole.

Our personal lives clearly have a long list of requirements: shelter, warmth, food, clothing, transport, entertainment, technology, growth. All we need – or feel we do – in order to participate within society as worthwhile, respectable citizens. Don’t many of those things, and how we’re going about them, effectively become our identity, our sense of status or of self-worth? (Notes One)

At its most fundamental, it’s presumably a picture of everyone feeling healthy, cared for, and motivated to engage productively, constructively and responsibly in making things work. That, from this foundation of balanced preparedness – all our essential physical, emotional, psychological needs having been met – we’re in the position to participate in social realities with the secure, firm footing of personal independence.

I would’ve thought that’s what we’re looking for with society: people being able to stand on their own and respond to life from that place of calm self-assurance. But, these days, it really seems such security is difficult to find. Everything changing so quickly, the psychological – let alone financial or mental – demands placed on everyone to “keep up” are perhaps impossible to meet (Notes Two).

Progress is funny, then, in that we seem the one’s funding it through buying these things, yet the minimal standards required to keep up with it all must be a huge burden – all these new products to evaluate, learn about, and somehow find money for. Markets might have a lot of good things going for them, but sometimes it seems the quantifiable stress and waste it’s all generating could outweigh many supposed benefits.

It’s almost as if industry runs ahead – fuelled by the desire for profit, excitement of competition, or ingenuity of our finest minds – and we’re all chasing the tail of trying to catch up and be whatever a modern human’s supposed to be (Notes Three). Like this artificial conversation spun out above our heads, speeding ahead of anything the human mind can truly comprehend or piece together into a meaningful whole.

It’s interesting to consider the impact it’s all having. Because, industry has its “ends” – it’s targets and sense of where things are headed. This commercial vision of a better world that’s harnessing our power of invention to rework the idea of human life, society, and our position on this planet. Working on those levels, the scope this has for reshaping our lives is potentially limitless.

And, within it all, live the humans trying to tally up our hopes for life with the space this world has in mind for us. How well we’re currently balancing genuine human needs with these other, commercial ones can be a strange thing to contemplate.

Notes and References:

Note 1: How we feel about society
Note 1: Things with life have to be maintained
Note 1: Attacks on our humanity
Note 1: This thing called love
Note 2: What’s not essential
Note 2: Freedom, what to lean on & who to believe
Note 2: Goods & the wisdom in scarcity
Note 2: The insatiable desire for more
Note 2: Letting go of “who you are”
Note 3: Those who are leading us
Note 3: Do we really need incentives?
Note 3: Treating people like sims?
Note 3: Life’s never been simpler…

Thinking about how we got here, One thing leads to another mused over paths the West’s taken and where we now stand.

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