New and old growth on a Conifer

How much is in the hands of the market

Is it true that the future we’re walking into is largely in the hands of the market? As if almost every area of our lives has now been entrusted to the tender or forceful grasp of those forces – all subject to the push or pull of demand, availability, and the sense of what people can be persuaded, coerced or tempted into buying. Everything having been placed in the lap of this rather specific form of democratic choice.

And, beyond just the procurance of essential goods and services, aren’t our beliefs and ideas treated similarly? As if “all of life” has been carved up, rethought in terms of market share, and packaged to appeal to certain segments of society. Cultural consumption, appearance and attitudes now separating us into tribes as we express ourselves – or, create our identity – from the options available. (Notes One)

Aren’t there other ways to be thinking about life? Not just in terms of economic power and where it places us with regard to social identity or cultural worth, but – somehow – separating the idea of personal value from any sort of financial analysis (Notes Two). Almost as if “to be human” isn’t simply a question of how much money we’re born into or are likely in the position to make.

Haven’t we, however, placed everything in the market’s hands? Life, increasingly, coming down to this rational assessment of what we can afford and whether we think something’s worthwhile investing in for “where it will get us” in terms of status or opportunity. As if the purpose of life is the accumulation of money; our personal worth so closely tangled up with it.

Isn’t it interesting that we’ve placed “ideas” and “beliefs” in such hands? As if “how we use our minds” is now subject to whatever notions we buy into from all that’s convincingly, persistently or strategically placed before us – all these carrots and sticks, subtle inducements, or promises of social acceptance if we’ll concede to walk certain paths with the precious footsteps of our thinking.

It seems such a powerful thing: for human belief to be determined by market offerings or compelling arguments (Notes Three). Aren’t our minds where we make our choices and maintain our understanding of life? The place we weigh up our options; test them against our grasp of reality’s delicate balances; and decide which things we want to support, sustain and bring into existence. Isn’t it where “our” power lies? (Notes Four)

Yet it’s so often seeming pulled down to the level of calculation: ideas surreptitiously hidden within the subtext of media, culture or advertising to shift our thinking, undermine our worth, lead us step-by-step onto paths that may not be in our best interests. Isn’t thought a slippery slope? One move, combined with other, potentially trapping us in a tangle of contradictory premises we can’t find our way between.

If the future’s being determined by the quality of choices we’re able to make in these marketplaces, where we’re headed must be questionable.

Notes and References:

Note 1: Markets, and what they might mean
Note 1: Economics & the realm of culture
Note 1: The business of spiritual ideas
Note 1: Making ends meet
Note 2: Worthless, or priceless?
Note 2: Solving all the problems we’re creating
Note 2: Society that doesn’t deal with the soul
Note 3: Who gets to define us
Note 3: The relationship between statistics & reality
Note 3: How quickly things can change
Note 3: Attention as a resource
Note 4: What we create by our presence
Note 4: Being trusted to use our discernment…
Note 4: Freedom, responsibility & choice

With all of this, there’s always the question of Having confidence in complex systems.

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