To what extent has society lost touch with primary distillations of values?

Forgive the sweeping generalisations I’m about to make. Consumerism undermined our ethics; how much we cared for human rights in China was generally found wanting when weighed up against the cheapness of supply chains from China. For your money, what would you say President Trump has done of value to reshape the world in a direction it needed reshaping? For me, it is the break with China, heralding a break with globalisation that pre-dates Covid-19, and all the added impetus that pandemics bring for localised (& non-monetary?) economies.

The old world is gone” is the article by Elif Shafak in The New Statesman (28th August - 3 September 2020):
“For far too long, we in the West have consulted the same leather-bound dictionary compiled in the aftermath of the Cold War. Now our dictionary is in flames. We reach out to save what we can, but many pages of entries are scorched. Suddenly we realise we must redefine our most fundamental concepts. What is democracy? We thought we knew the answer, we took it for granted, but now we are no longer sure. What is normal? What is happiness? What are the values we should prioritise: ambitious trade agreements, financial deregulation, profit-driven business models that destroy the environment and pay no heed to co-existence? Or health and social care, diversity and inclusion, positive interaction with our ecosystems and purpose-driven business models?”

Thank you, Elif, for that distillation of the loci of concern. Am I allowed to assert that the latter direction of change is the one for which I was standing in the 2019 General Election?; no rewriting of old blog posts here.

What should we value?” by Martin Hagglund faced Elif Shafak’s aforementioned piece on the next page of this latest “The New Statesman”; a magazine for which last week’s edition

was exemplary:

“Human beings are the only species on Earth that do not know how they are supposed to live. All other species have a natural environment and a natural way to sustain their form of life. While some animals have to build things to make their environment what it ought to be (as is the case with beavers building dams), there is no question of what they ought to build and how species ought to make a living for itself. As in all environments, things can go wrong: a falling rock can break the dam, the water can become poisoned, a virus may spread. Yet when something goes wrong in the life of beavers, it is not because they have the wrong idea of how to organise their lives. Indeed, beavers cannot have the wrong idea of how they should live, since it is set by their nature.
“For human beings, by contrast, the question of how we should lead our lives is always at issue, even if we try to forget that fact. We can discover the ideal conditions for other species by studying their natural way of life. But we cannot discover the best way for us to live simply by studying our present or past societies.”

Let’s not concur with the implied "illiberal liberal" idea that all ideas of how we might best express our nature are equally valid and therefore to be taken off all pedestals on which history has placed them.

I wish the dialogues and cultural exchanges would open up between the “chattering classes” (whose socio-political preoccupations generally reject hierarchical concepts) and the intentional communities which shock with what the individual surrenders in service of something with unelected leaders and ideas that seem more like fantasy than science. The Bruderhof Community of East Sussex as presented in a BBC documentary caught the attention of my social circle this week. I’m a little down-hearted that the dialogue hasn’t yet provided an opener for me to propose that Buddhist Intentional Communities be discussed. I've lived in such communities, once in London and twice in Bristol; I still smile at having come up with the name "Shanti Towers" and then interviewed an ordained Buddhist to live with by playing the (recommended) game Therapy, to get to know him. In such Buddhist Communities one finds, in response to the question of how to collectively cultivate human nature at its best and support the cream rising to the top rather than demand some pseudo-egalitarianism, I have found an inspiring array of answers being lived out collectively, whilst supporting the development of "The True Individual".
Where I’m heading now is back to the hippy times through which this talk on The Ideal Human was given by one of the two most profound and impressive humans I’ve met and talked with. 

For me, the direction is clear, finding a team sharing the journey to living the highest ideal known to humankind, the Bodhisattva Ideal, and able to deliver the grassroots changes called for by the onset of this #PandemicEra (& model it all in Hastings and Rye Constituency), is somewhat problematic still for me, Imperfect Idealist & #FreeRangeBuddhist 007.

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1 comment:

Unknown said...

I had the great pleasure of being invited round to the Bruderhof Community to share dinner with them before lockdown. A very interesting experience.

I look a bit askance at the the simultaneous anthropomorphism of animals 'knowing' what they are doing helping with the environment combined with us 'knowing but not doing'. Every species of plant and animal that have every existed shape the environment in their interests and thrive at the expense of others. You just have to look at the difference between here and Mars, or this earth in different geological eras. We just happen, in a very short time and perhaps for a very short time have become very successful apex predators. The perception of 'free will' by each individual human (and who knows how far animals see themselves as able to make choices - cats and dogs seem from our perspective to have free will at an individual level) clouds our judgement from the larger perspective, that as a species our actions seem to be utterly predictable.