I have now mostly existed in a service-driven world, in countries where primary and secondary work sectors of fishing, manufacturing, and the like no longer constitute the mainstay of the country’s income. A lot of us are the same. And I think it’s a shame. Not from a political point of view but from a social development point of view. I’m not foolish enough to think that idyllic days have ever been truly felt yet, but I have lately come to wonder:
In a culture that exists with the land and sea, nature nurtures your raw elements of existence. You learn that not all is in your control and you learn that achieving as a community is the most efficient way forward. It is a hard existence but one where you see the process unfold each day. There is, therefore, a natural pace to nature and living with it. You see things born and flourish, wither and die… In a service culture, your elements are people that need to be nurtured by other people to allow for a smooth existence because it is so far removed from living off the land. And I think people are getting worse at nurturing themselves, let alone colleagues, employees, service providers and customers. We don’t water the roots of many. We try to maintain trajectories without understanding natural cycles. We don’t understand that leaving some teams with ‘fallow’ time will increase productivity. And we never bring enough sunshine on the journey.
In a manufacturing set up, society starts to put value on numbers, exponential numbers for mass consumption by the growing masses. There is an implicit understanding that, in the name of progress, people can be placed in dangerous situations and that money will be ample recompense. Money trumps not existence, but true living. There is an understanding that machinery’s far more preferable than the human touch for most things. So now it appears that, to earn stripes in anyone’s eyes, you can’t just be good at anything and be content with it. Humans have to be able to over-achieve, to be extraordinary, to make yourself irreplaceable. The most dangerous point about this though? To be more than yourself, you have to start relying on others’ perceptions of you to judge your success. Because we can judge if we are doing something well and true to ourselves, but only others can tell us if we are successfully reaching beyond ourselves.
And so we roll into the current level of ‘evolution’. Now we’re all supposed to be of service, but in a ‘corporatized’ sense. We live in a world where production is no longer of the ground or of manufacture, but of ourselves. So we don’t serve from a point of compassion or humanity, but from capital-generation and professionalism. We want extraordinary service to confirm our sense of entitlement whilst we ourselves strive to be extraordinary in a competitive arena. We are losing self-judgement, -management and -understanding in a bizarre non-self-affirming loop. All banks and balances and benchmarks are internal, subjective and invisible. They’re subject to mood and ignorance, authenticity and corruption. It’s of no surprise to me that people embrace stress as proof they exist/ serve/ provide above and beyond.
These days, I love hearing of people going back to listening to the rhythms of life, days and self. I love seeing reconnection and and understanding of how unnatural some of our lifestyle can be. More and more, I am hearing people wanting to return gestures with significance, thought, time and meaning and it makes me hopeful for the next swing of the pendulum. And I, for one, shall be riding the upswing with a grin on my face.