The other day, I said to someone, “The world is in a bad place.” Is it just me, or do so many layers of the world seem to be operating from a point of egocentrism?
The Russian invasion of Ukraine is simply the epitome of the narcissism that seems to be the operating system for so much of the world today – a self-centred approach because one person thinks he deserves something that was not being handed over to him. And it seems that for so may levels of government, the default approach of opposing parties is reproach, even when the ruling party does something good. Political decisions seem to be made more for a party and even for the individual politician rather than for the good of the people. General interest groups seem to be more aggressive in promoting their mandate with little acknowledgement for the 'other side'. And individuals think they are experts and hold disdain for the people who are actually experts, whatever the topic. Even within families, decisions and actions are sometimes made without consideration for other members. The mantra seems to be, "I am right, and you are wrong."
From all angles (international, national, provincial, municipal, and, yes, right down to friendships and families), the world needs a bandaid. Our collective inability to respect, to reason, to understand, to compromise leads to aggression and conflict and heart ache, and it's counterproductive to meaningful change.
What happened to the adage we were so often told, as children of the 60’s and 70’s, 'The world does not revolve around you'?
Was it the shift in generational thinking when children were being told they can do and be whatever they wanted (without consideration for key factors of ability and education) and were never allowed to fail? Did we build people up too much to the point that they have inflated visions of their ability and their rights? Have we become so scared to speak our opinions to the point that no one is challenged? Did we all become ‘experts’ on everything after a couple of Twitter reads? Did we lose trust and respect for specialism and the understanding that we need true ‘experts’ to manage the issues of the world? Did we all just become too comfortable with decades of affluence and relative peace here in the western world that we have adopted a deserving attitude? Have we become immune to misbehaviour? Have we forgotten that some people will always have more than us, and that is alright? Have we become so immune to the sufferings of others that we have lost a sense of ‘otherness’? Did the isolation of COVID bring us too much into ourselves? Have we been too bombarded with technology that, yes, adjusts itself to support our way of thinking? Is the ‘news’ too negative? Has our attention span become so short, narrowed down to a 30 second Tik Tok, that we no longer delve into issues so that we can actually consider all sides? Have we become so spoiled that we cannot accept that others do not have to share our opinion? Have we lost the ability to converse and ‘debate’ in a healthy way?
I do not know the cause. I imagine it is a combination of factors. Maybe conflict is a necessary tool for recalibrating societies every 'how-many' years.
The world is changing, that is for certain. But do not despair! There has been conflict since the beginning of time. Think back in our lifetime alone when the world seemed so uncertain and shaky and tenuous. Our parents came back from WWII. Some of us struggled with poverty. The Vietnam War happened. In fact, there have been wars ongoing somewhere in the world throughout my ‘baby boomer' lifetime. There were wars and there were riots about wars. There were race uprisings. World leaders were assassinated. We’ve had terrorist attacks. Communism and authoritarianism have existed. We’ve had world recessions and genocides. We’ve had natural disasters and, simply, disasters such as massive airplane crashes and nuclear reactor incidents. We've experienced seismic changes in technology.
And, still, the world prevailed. WE prevailed. And we will get through this tough patch, as well.
We can’t stop the war in Ukraine (or anywhere else) and we can't change the world ourselves; but it will take each one of us to put on the bandaid and help the healing in order to prevail now because, this time around, the cut runs deep.
In my career in human services, arguing and aggression simply led to more arguing and aggression. And it was very clear that you can't make anyone do anything. But kindness and understanding went a long way, especially with the most hurting people. Maybe we can adopt a more gentle, 'community-minded', approach to our world. Maybe we can:
Be humble. Recognize our little, very little, role in this world. Know our limits. Respect expertise. Trust our leaders to make the right decisions. Provide our support even if we don’t always agree. Monitor our own intake of ‘news’. Don’t believe everything we hear. Pay more attention to our relationships. Listen more. Give our opinions less. Speak quietly and clearly. Avoid drama. Lower our expectations of what we think we deserve. Discipline ourselves to delve into issues, not only read the headlines or the articles that fit our world view. Recognize that most of us have been very blessed with the basics, and the rest is gravy, simply gravy. Think hard about what it’s like in the other person’s shoes. Accept that there is probably more hardship and pain in the world than comfort right now. Be a good loser. Operate from a role of peace-keeping or compromise. Make decisions more from a logical viewpoint than from emotion. Think about the consequences of our decisions and actions. Educate ourselves outside our viewpoint.
Yes, the whole world is hurting right now. There are things we can't control and, individually, we can’t solve all the pain or the big issues; but we can be the 'bandaid' on the world by checking our own attitudes and living with the greater good in mind. Change and healing start small.
(Remember, musings are my own and might be different from your's - and that is okay.)