Saturday, December 22, 2012

too old too young

I am on the threshold of 2 years I will join the over 40s (those who are too young to slow down but too old to keep the pace)...I should feel lucky having lived in an epoch were history changes by the hour, where technology is changing our biology and mental processing, where stasis can only be found within.  Still it is also a time marked by great risks; environmental, economic and personal.  Over the past half decade we have lived through the worst economic depression since the great depression in a country where people are so inward looking that they still have not grasped the fact that this is permanent and the only way forward is sustainability in all spheres: environmentally, economically and even within our little lives.  It is time to rediscover the revolutionary potentials of austerity rather than delude ourselves with promises of plenty and growth which can only deplete further what is left of our physical and spiritual environment.  We live in a brave new world were demogogues with effective soundbites can defy the physical reality promising things which can only exist in discourcive spheres.  And we all remain our fragile selves amidst all this change, vulnerable to mental illness and depression and fear of not coping in a changing landscape.  Even worse could be the reaction of those who are not able to understand, the gullible who consume illusions, many of which were excluded from what remains an unequal society.  Governing the fast process of change to make it sustainable and ensure that its benefits are shared in an inclusive way is the basic political issue of this century.  Ultimately we must realise that the whole aim of growth is happinness and that the way of austerity can get us there faster than the way of wasteful consumption.  In these times of Christmas-a Christian feast rooted in pagan rituals, which still fills a secularist like me with inward joy, my thoughts go for all those passing through mental illness or depressions, those feeling that unhappiness cannot be overcome, those whose life dreams have been foiled by whatever circumstance, whether legal, healthwise, economic or personal...Surely unhappiness will always be part of life but even at a personal level there can be ways of taking care of ourselves (sometimes with the help of others and even professionals) which unfortunately are not thought in schools.  Providing mental health services at community level while equipping people with the skills to cope with change and risks, inevitable in liquid modernity where even our intimate worlds are changing, should be one of the priorities of progressive social policy. 

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

a new habitat?

Technology has changed human relations perhaps beyond our current understanding. It has made us more open to chance and risk amplifying the feeling that life is a complex web of random coincidences. Just as it offers the prospect of opportunities which can bring personal happiness, it can also be a minefield of surprises, loneliness and delusions. The existence of a parallel communication space where reality and fantasy blur is in itself a radical notion, one may go as far as describing it as a new habitat for an anthropologically changed species.
This makes the task of understanding the human situation a more urgent endeavour. Making sense of the fact that we live in a very random place where anything can literally happen from one day to the next is constant threat to the yearning for stability and tranquillity. Yet the fact that experience changes humans constantly has been recognised by philosophers since the time of Heractlitus who professed the words which inspire this blog: No one can step on the same river twice, for its neither the same river nor the same man. Still it does not help to simply recognise the state of fact of our existence. Building meaningful human relations in this chaos where everything is open to chance is important. Resisting the dangers posed by a rejectionism of the losers asserted either by romantic notions of the past or even worse by those taking refuge in patriarchy, race or nation, is another task for the critical thinker. Recognising new human bonds which are already forming, but do not necessarily replace but can compliment more treasured traditional roles, is another way of understanding. But ultimately the focus of critical thought should also be the question of happiness; how to create a new art of the self which makes us strong, happy and considerate towards others in a risky environment.