The content of this article has been building slowly lately and owes its composition to various sources of observation as well as personal experiences as always. My intention is to share various thoughts and reflections that may encounter some of your own.
Most of the world is still numb from Covid-19 and perhaps anxious about what might come next. On the one hand, we want to continue to live 'normally', to do what we like, to make money, to somehow plan the future and, on the other hand, many of the givens that existed to allow us the above have now been disturbed.
I notice quite a lot of the economic consequences of the measures against the virus in various touristic professions in Greece, which made me once again realize how interdependent we are globally. The economy and the choices of the English and Americans, for example, affect quite directly the small population of an island in Greece waiting for the exchange of money-services/goods in order to make some money to survive.
Similarly, the Americans, the English etc need Greece to buy some of their goods.
So we are almost all globally connected under the rules of a capitalist system which tells us how to produce, manage and exchange resources, goods and services within a society and among countries.
This whole system of rules and relationships (capitalism) ensures to some extent the preservation and smooth functioning of our lives since, within this system, our purpose is to find money to be able to buy what we need to survive and to have access to what we want to do. In essence we are talking about a mechanistic model of life where everything, including people, is subject to one price, has a measurable value determined by someone based on production costs, competition, internal and external market climate etc-economists can explain them better than me-.
At the same time, this specific system of organizing our lives regards everything potentially as a commodity and man as a consumer. So in order for consumers to continue eating meat, building luxury homes and having exotic experiences, they must turn their resources into commodities at whatever cost, including the destruction of entire ecosystems.
That is, we bring everything that is available in our measures to use it as we think best. Most often this way of living signifies a self-referential situation where we identify our joy almost exclusively with material goods and as a result many of our relationships are structured and signified based on this purpose. We have fewer friends now and more followers who like and 'consume', like us,' staged ' photos, advertised products and our idyllic moments through social media.
We live in a time when we discover every day how connected we are people, how much we can not live without each other, if we want to live well and not just survive.
The argument for our attachment to matter as the signifier of our life loses its strength. Of course we are in need of food and material goods and we have managed to have them in superabundance, by overusing the resources we have.
A dish of food we can perhaps easily find (if we are lucky of course), but there are other things that seem to be getting harder and harder to find. A hug, the expression of love, the joy of a child when the are being listened to and understood, inner calmness and satisfaction and other such have no specific value. They belong to the category of non materialistic needs that turn out to be so difficult and frightening for people to fulfil because they bring him face to face with the depth of his being.
Depth that can neither be measured, nor specific value can be given to it. It is our infinity and eternity, it is what we are in our essence, it is what we forget when we dive into the hole of the finite and are caught by it, by the body and the senses, by material satisfaction as if what we feel belongs to things and not to us.
Well, they belong to us and we can direct them wherever we want. Our happiness was associated with other things in our 20s and most likely with others in our 30s and so on. The feeling of joy that we experience, the very thing that we interpret as the reason to feel joy or not with something, is in us and does not belong to any material good or service in themselves, it is made out of the focus and importance that we give to things.
While observing, I see more and more people being 'hungry' despite of them working and acquiring many material goods (most of the time useless). They are still 'hungry' for something else, for a' real ' moment, a close contact, a reassuring conversation, a selfless embrace, a little inner satisfaction and tranquillity.
We live in a time when the truth begins to manifest itself more easily. We don't have many places left to hide anymore and to keep lying to ourselves.
Scandals, frauds, suspicious intentions and lies are more easily revealed because the light travels more forcefully and reveals things. A lot of the things that used to make sense like someone's meaning of work are now like being put under the microscope and their importance is being reviewed. The same is true of institutions such as religion, states, organizations, which to a large extent fail to include all aspects of human nature and potential and, therefore, become less important to people.
At the same time, we cannot continue to 'hide' behind matter, because its obsessive and thoughtless use to satisfy deeper needs has failed us, while displaying cataclysmic consequences in our climate and environment, such as global warming.
The role of the consumer has helped us for decades to turn our attention and form our relationships into a productive way. It has served us in a way more to produce and spend than to wage wars on moral and religious grounds. Greed and power addiction, though, ,like the joy I mentioned above, as motives of action belong also to human nature and are activated as an occasion and not as a cause by any material goods.
I wonder if it's time for people to discover other 'roles' they can play in the 'game' of life. Is it time for him to begin to recognise his ambiguities? That we are at the same time immaterial and material beings living in a finite planetary environment, that we are what we like and what we do not like about ourselves, that we are with others and also alone, that we are independent and also dependent on others, that we are free and at the same time not free at all.
I feel like the presence of the virus is calling us to rethink a lot of our givens. It's like chess that the other player has made his move (spread the virus) and expects us to make ours. It is no coincidence that during the quarantine and right after there was an increase in cases of spousal violence, suicides and the number of diagnoses of mental illness. It is logical that when any normality in a person's life is disturbed and uncertainty enters then there is insecurity, anxiety and a kind of trauma or crack about whether and where one can rely on.
It is worth mentioning two examples of this (of course they are not the only ones).
One is about gay people and the other about heterosexual couples. A gay person grows by definition (at least in more conservative countries such as Greece) in a system that is not at all friendly to diversity and to a large extent internalises the constant rejection with which he/she is constantly confronted. He/She will be very lucky if while growing up he finds a person to tell him/her that it's OK to be who they are, something that a straight person does not have to experience in their lives for something that is an inherent part of oneself, sexuality. This internalised (perceived or real) rejection becomes later hay people's lifestyle that they then reproduce in their relationships and contacts with other gay people as a familiar way of being and self-protection. Fortunately all these learned behaviours can change when one works on their self-awareness and personal development.
In heterosexual couples we often refer to the violence that a man exerts on a woman as traditionally the physically strongest one that to a certain degree happens and needs to be addressed. At the same time, however, we are talking much less about the behaviours that a woman often adopts to deal with a male-dominated society. This behaviour presents characteristics of manipulation and emotional 'violence' where they try, many times and unconsciously, to restore a certain equality in a relationship using their feelings and whatever effects they may have.
An adult, healthy relationship regardless of gender and roles has the characteristics of mutual respect, equality, honesty, appreciation and love in all parts of one person and the other.
Why is it so hard to be honest with ourselves and with others?
Do the roles we have adopted both individually and collectively in our relationships keep us bound to specific behaviours and patterns;
Is it time to honestly and courageously reconsider the responsibility we have as beings for all our choices and respectively to who we trust (including governments, institutions and organisations)?
We humans can do the 'worst' and the 'best', we can destroy but also save, we can condemn but also deliver. I speak not only of everything material and external, but mainly of our souls themselves; the rest are mere expressions of them.
Will we continue to live in the 'security' and the illusions of any role we play or will we dare to create and claim those conditions for calmer and complete souls and consequently happy lives?