So this is a topic that I have been thinking about since I started work and especially now that I am older. The topic of searching for the meaning of life and why we are here. But more importantly, being able to find the time and space to do so.
The truth of the matter is that if you are like me, you work for a living and probably long hours as well. Your job requires your full attention to run day to day operations, and requires you to adjust to changing landscapes. You probably need time to also do work related readings just to have the knowledge and competencies required to do your work.
Amidst all these, if you are like me, you know at the back of your mind that there is something you wanted to do that is intrinsic to who you are; the search for the meaning of life and existence. This search had driven you to read and study the various world religions and their sacred texts. Turned up at places nobody expects you to turned up in such as a Buddhist meditation retreat, an ashram, new age circles, NLP, Psychology Degree programme, hypnotherapy etc. But if you are like me, at 37 years of age, you also realised that the bulk of these exploration was done when you were younger. It seems that the older we get, the busier we are with work and life and the less time we have for ourselves.
The challenge is also economical. We have built an economic system that is based on competition for scarce resources so much so that we spent our time (which is a very precious commodity that is reducing daily) earning a living. Survival takes centre stage and we need to have more money to support our life. And yet this very system also results in us having less time for our love ones, less time to build meaningful friendships and relationships or be a better parent, less time for ourselves and fulfilling our sense of mission in life.
Along the way there are also people who game the economy for personal profit causing massive suffering on a national, continental and global scale. Things are not really looking good for us humans. And it makes me wonder whether our subsistence and/or hunter-gatherer ancestors had it better.
As a society are we maximising every human potential in society? When I walk past retail shops and I see people just standing around waiting for customers to enter the shops, I felt dismayed that a person is relegated to such a task, and wasting away 12hrs a day just earning a living. Does that person has the ability to pursue meaningful activities in life? Not much i assume. Meaningful activities here can mean different things to different individuals. It could mean finding time to meditate, trek in the forest, do qigong, taiji, walk their dogs in the park, play or teach their children, spend more time with their aged parents, going on meaningful travel to understand other cultures and appreciate the beauty of other landscapes, or reading a book that enriches the mind.
Is there a better economic system out there? If you look at primitive cultures, they live in a tribe-based structure. Whereby everything within the tribe is commonly shared. In fact within a tribe, there is no concept of personal property. Is that a possible model? What if we build a society based on collaboration and sharing as opposed to competition? If resources are so scarce, wouldn’t sharing be a better option? Its the common example of does every house needs a power drill or could 10-20 homes share one power drill because lets face it, how often will you use a power drill? Before you say ‘No! this won’t work’ why don’t we stop for a moment and think about all the impossible things we humans have been able to achieve. We even walked on the moon! So are you saying that collaborating is even harder and impossible then walking on the moon? What if it means you could guarantee that your children and grandchildren would be living in a much better world then you are living now? Would that persuade you to reconsider? How many things you used to think was impossible but after you got through it, you realised that the limitation and resistance was from you because the actual work was actually rather easy? we all had those experience.
Tribal structure also leverages on the sharing of responsibilities. Food is centrally cooked, childcare as well among others. In a tribal structure, there is less of a need to get external service providers because when work is centrally coordinated, you realise that you could maximise resources such as 3 members cooking for a tribe of 20 as opposed to 5 members cooking for 5 families of 4 members. In this instance, manpower as a scare resource, is maximised. This is just one job out of many other possibilities.
The way the world is going, it seems like we need to relook how we live as a society. Perhaps an economic system based on collaboration and sharing would unite the people more instead of creating divisions and schisms based on race and religion. It would help us to recognise that we are one species and that a system based on collaboration and helping one another is as a gestalt, more powerful then the sum of its parts.
Its great to also know that there are others who are exploring this path as well. You can reference Michael Tellinger who formed the Ubuntu movement in South Africa. His work is fascinating.