This post is adapted from a conversation I just had in the comments section of an earlier post, and I thought it warranted further exploration.
Many indigenous tribes have known for millennia that we (humans) are intimately connected with all life, and the planet. I believe that industrial, technological, and economic expansion have caused so great a distraction among most humans that we have either forgotten these connections, or simply never had the chance to develop them in the first place.
As a result, we see a widespread dissatisfaction among the industrialized population of the world. Mid-life crisis? Depression? A sense of emptiness, uneasiness, perturbedness for no discernible reason? You’re yearning for something, and you don’t know what. A sense of purpose perhaps? Or maybe “purpose” is the only way you can find of articulating a yearning to feel connected – physically, emotionally, spiritually, to something larger than yourself. Well, you are. You are connected deeply to all other life, and to the planet itself, without which you would not be here.
We cannot live without other life. It’s not possible. But our industrialized, digitalized, commodified society tells us exactly the opposite: you are an individual, you do not need anyone else, you should work for someone else for a living, and if you’re lucky you can have people working for you. Economics knows only one emotion: fear (and this could be a whole post in itself). Fear drives the market, drives supply and demand, drives the increasing alienation of us from ourselves, our work, each other, non-humans, and our environment.
However, as the internet and other technologies continue to connect people globally, the opportunity increases substantially for us to connect with those of us who have developed these yearned-for bonds with other people, with all life, and with the planet. And so the problems our civilization has caused may unwittingly also give us access to the remedy.
The connections we build with each other digitally may at first be superficial, but they can lead to the development of other connections in real life, if we’re wise enough to often get off the computer (I admit to spending far too much time in the digital realm myself, although I do so partly to inject the digital realm with as much positive content as possible. Still, I believe real-life connections are more important).
And the hopeful thing is that that once a person builds these connections, either accidentally or on purpose, we miss them if they go away. The yearning of humanity is to return to a simpler, healthier, more compassionate, more loving, and more community-based way of life. This doesn’t necessitate the destruction of technology, just the use of it in ways which are non-invasive to our connections to ourselves, each other, and all life.
For many of us, we just need the opportunity to figure out that this way of life is what we’re longing for.