Be the best?
Because of the niche crisis, I am thinking and writing a lot about materialism, its origin, and its effect on humanity.
I am obsessed with the notion that shifting dimensions is something very important in our thinking. Nolens volens American democrats (and I as one of them) were forced to do just that.
From climate and health care suddenly COVID pandemic was all-important: and now- race.
The ability to shift dimensions is crucial for wise judgment. It is an element of critical thinking, there is no creativity without shifting dimensions. To do it you use imagination, historical, and global perspective.
In racism a doctrine selects a group of people, declares them inferior and then other people can use it for brutal advantage, sometimes for generations and generations. And a systemic injustice can persist because the critical thinking, shifting dimension, and perspective are so rare.
It is also difficult, requiring effort and training.
And here the materialism comes back like an old stew. Living and thinking in the world of things offer incredible advantages. Modern school with an emphasis on technology and science is famously one dimensional. Auto mechanics and computer technology don’t require fluency in classical Greek. Actually, it is difficult to think where would you use this skill- still standard in European high school 100 years ago.
One dimensional thinking gives quick and high profit while fosters consumerism and inequality and racism. And it is a hallmark of free-market capitalism- profit is everything.
Fortunately, it is not in our genes, it started only 50, 000 years ago. Like poor people are not stupid- only taught to be poor for several generations, the same – CEOs and financial sharks are not bad and greedy- only taught for several generations to be the best you can be- measured by one dimension- your account. Neither group is happy- so the reversal is possible but it would take one or two generations. If we start now.
What is an alternative to materialism?
Evolutionary, before the invention of material culture and the language of material things- whichever came first- the world of primitive hominids, like animals, was populated with the more or less sophisticated descriptions of behaviors. Now, with our prodigious brains, we call it experiences. We can not completely eliminate material culture, but we can create a world where experiences are valued high and they, not things define the richness and qualities of our lives.
If you share a pie the more you take, the less is left for others. It is where we are. But if you share a beautiful sunset, the more you share, the richer and more fantastic is the experience. It is where we need to be. The experience, unlike the gadget you owe, depends on your input, your relationship you are in, your mood, your knowledge, and your imagination. It makes it difficult but it makes you really happy, content and peaceful. Makes your life examined and your children smiling. It is when you are the best- the quality of experience determines it.
And one more thing. It is sustainable, the switch would give us a glimmer of a chance of survival as a species.
Because our share of the pie is dwindling and it will continue to.
I know, we need a whole new conversation, the measuring system, a new language, institutions, and industries…the parents teaching love and relationships, the schools teaching critical thinking and multidimensional thinking. Teaching art, poetry music, and literature.
And who will do it, where is this broad coalition of courageous and hopeful people?