The key challenge for humanity is our irresponsibility.
Our global society allows individuals to accumulate power without responsibility and that’s a recipe for disaster.
We live in a chronically one-way civilization. Everything flows in a single direction: goods, resources, ideas, energy, power … If individuals with power decide to return the power to where it came from, they lose it. Just think how one-way the roll of toilet paper runs and where you go to get another one.
Being responsible is irresponsible behavior in capitalism. If you want to show that you’re responsible in parliament or on the stock market, you have to be irresponsible in regards to everything except to one-way flows of power and capital . That’s the formula for the limitless economic growth in the 21st century. Growth of what?
Where does the power go?
Power flows one-way from the increasingly impoverished to the increasingly privileged. The privileged may not return it. The impoverished may not call the privileged to equality and justice. That would cause the system to collapse.
The world’s tycoons are increasingly coming from technological waters, as you can see here. E-technology has become a central playing field for economic games. Power must flow there. Janis Varoufakis calls this “techno-feudalism“.
No force limits the highest decision-making power. At least no force that could not be easily swindled. Powerful leaders can mess things up heavily, but no one can grab them by their balls – not even by their neck. For the mighty, there is no court before which they would really be held accountable. Why should they, anyway? They do not stand out from others in terms of their behavior, they can even be considered exemplary!
The angry masses can’t reach their elected politicians nor the haughty tycoons, as they are protected by the army of robocops, armed to their teeth, so they to overpower the rebels. Cunning politicians are not subject to the same rules as others. If these politicians want to evade the law, they know how to do it very elegantly. What to speak of global tycoon megamillionaires; their irresponsibilities are not even covered by any laws.
System breakdown hurts
Once we divorced power from responsibility, we opened Pandora’s box. Power has become so concentrated and so unscrupulous, addicted to itself, that it will never be prepared to set boundaries, and we little people can’t do that either.
Freedom means that the strong can always say “no” to the weak. In the opposite direction, of course, this is not the case.
For decades, the global norm of how to live has been gaining ground. It is commanded by TV screens, the press, influential people, religious and political leaders, cultural institutions, teachers, CEOs, relatives … Our monocultural lifestyle is extremely fragile, which became evident during the measures amidst covid-19. We were used to the “standard package” of social commands and rules (and vents for releasing the accumulated pressure), but then a different set of commands hit us without any warning, and these commands often start with “You’re not allowed to…”
All of a sudden we are not allowed to go to school, office, theater, library, gym, to a concert, a trip, a visit, not even to a wedding. We are not allowed to breathe as breathing is contagious. We are commanded to be passive in the war against the threat, which is – literally – microscopic compared the hundreds of threats that are present in the standard package.
I totally understand people squirming at drastic measures: “Give me a break! Decades have passed, millions of people have died from easily preventable causes (like hunger!), And we’ve been looking away. Now millionaires are suddenly behaving as if they are personified empathy and as if no sacrifice is to extreme in the service of the welfare of humankind! They call us to our sacrifice, of course, not theirs! Give me a break, will you? ”
I don’t think bitching about billionaires is the right thing to do. This only gives them more attention and power. What if we give our attention to alternatives and give them the power?
Unfortunately, we don’t know the alternatives well enough. At the same time, bans hurt.
Don’t panic, it’s just a catastrophe
“Sit still and look inside yourself!” is a command that fills us with horror. But if we valued the luxury of every single moment, our millionth silent breath would reveal to us the blissful holiness that is always in front of our noses.
At that point, it would no longer matter whether the world changed or not. We would see that 99% of things are covered with thick cement in the foundations of our society and thus unchangeable. Deciding is possible (maybe!) at the top 1%: who is holding the steering wheel, which side of the road he is driving on and what’s the color of the bus. Ok, if you are eco-friendly, you’ll be deciding the color of the train.
Once we found holiness in that millionth breath and saw that holiness is available anytime, anywhere, we would give it more attention and less attention to the circus out there. Putting the circus on the sideline would take away its power. We would – even unintentionally – push a magic “plow” into the social cement like a hot knife into butter.
There is no greater power than self-reliance, for it cannot exist without self-responsibility. And there’s no self-responsibility without being responsible to others.
In a state of such responsibility, you know that you cannot change anything, you don’t force yourself to try to plough through concrete. That’s impossible. You express responsibility for yourself by applying it to others too. This attitude, like a magnet, attracts the power of the masses, heats it up, sharpens it, and plowing happens on its own. Without the hustle and bustle, let’s make that clear.
In the hearts of millions of people, something shifts towards self-responsibility and thus fearlessness. While the whole world is focusing on changing that 1% on top of the thick concrete, with all the hustle and bustle, the tiny flickering in the depths is crushing the concrete and changing its very nature.
That’s what it means to be a politically active citizen, a responsible co-creator of a democratic society. That means expressing your will.
Don’t lose your energy on the “changeable” 1% that attracts quadrillions of Dollars to take humanity on a so-called better path. Elections, intrigues, pandemics, disasters, earthquakes … all this robs you of your power and keeps you glued to the one-way monoculture of and especially to fear. You keep skipping from topic to topic like a chain from sprocket to sprocket – on and on – just so you wouldn’t feel that millionth breath in silence.
You don’t see problems where they are, but in gossip, rumors, controversies, news, notices, reports, dissertations … in the millions of hollow words resonating with fear.
Only in silence can you can achieve the necessary sharpness to plough. You don’t need dissertations. You need a couple of razor-sharp words.
What will destroy the human race?
As a race, we are not being destroyed by viruses, earthquakes, storms, pollution, and global change. That’s the 1% dust on the surface that wouldn’t exist if we dealt with the core of the problem and carried power with responsibility.
As in the following story by Anthony De Mello, razor-sharp and to the point:
Much advance publicity was made for the address the Master would deliver on The Destruction of the World and a large crowd gathered at the monastery grounds to hear him.
The address was over in less than a minute. All he said was:
“These things will destroy the human race: politics without principle, progress without compassion, wealth without work, learning without silence, religion without fearlessness and worship without awareness.”
…and if I may add: power without responsibility.
Timely and wise words to ponder while I watch my homeland self-destruct as too many of “the powerful” have forsaken any sense of responsibility. There seem to be new examples on a daily basis.
You included two of my favorite people – Yanos (have been reading his books) and Anthony de Mello, whom I had not thought of in a while. I also love the photo of the plant in the jar of coins! Thank you, Nara!
Much appreciated, Peg! Sometimes I take extra effort to add suitable photos. It’s obviously worth it. 🙂