Leaving the past – speaking of now
It is always easy to understand the world in a historical perspective – mainly because every presumed understanding, every theory on what, who, and why, can be phrased and discussed without too much interference from the actors involved. They cannot disturb the process by adding their opinion.
Speaking about the now, on the other hand, is much more complicated. All the now-actors are, in fact, interfering with the theory directly – and with your audience and thereby indirectly with your theory.
In fact, all this interference could be said to really be the now. It consists from nothing else. We all affect each other and all decisions are made on the basis of opinions we have got from listening to each other. We act upon presumed knowledge, often in the shape of newspaper articles, Facebook updates, or simply the general way of speaking of people around us.
Speaking about the now, analyzing it, is, hence, more difficult than speaking about the past. The now has its own voice that might be louder than yours, while the past is silent and lets you speak almost unlimited (with the notable exception of what to think about and how to interpret certain events, like the acts of nazi-Germany or the thoughts of chairman Mao, or even more subtle topics like who is the “we”, for instance when talking about the colonizers that came and took “our” country, even though “we” are mostly of the colonizer-descent – in some countries there are laws against certain opinions, in other countries similar barriers for the free speech exist in the shape of a public opinion that will make life hard for the one claiming anything else than the usual).
You might say that the now is shouting and its words being accepted unconditionally by the “nowists”, those living in the now without having any considerations for how the future will interpret their acts and thoughts.
Society is building walls
So, keeping this difficulty of speaking about the now in mind, I still find it noticeable, that there is a tendency going on right now. I guess that hardly anyone of our time have failed to see how countries are enclosing themselves, building walls, keeping strangers out, as far as it goes. Nationalism seems right to a lot of people, while internationalism seems wrong to them. The pendulum is clearly moving backwards towards an isolationist world after having been very much in the internationalization end of the specter for a while, seeing all sorts of cross-country trade and political organizations dominating the picture. But now it seems clear that a lot of people do not feel that this international style represents them. They want to focus on a smaller scale, adding some racial, religious and other excluding parameters to the equation – obviously hoping to reach some kind of simplicity in their world by making it smaller, a simplicity they really need because they cannot grasp the complexities of a bigger world. They feel lost and left out and want control. Like the old saying: they want to be a big fish in a small lake rather than a small fish in a big lake.
What seems peculiar, however, is that this tendency is winning in all areas. It is not just about simplicity and understanding but even more about breaking down all the things that they believe belong to internationalism: collaboration, humanism, empathy, feelings, freedom of speech, any kind of freedom, actually, and communication. In a world that has become so profound over-communicating, lots of people react by simply stopping all communications. They watch TV and the like, getting input, and they write a lot of angry comments to the mass media feeds on social media. They are reacting, but they do not themselves express anything, just following troupe when the masses, the presumed now, are shouting – and shouting with them.
Business is building walls – or trenches?
Yesterday I could read an article, an opinion by a management consultant, saying that we are feeling too much at work. We should stop preaching this behavior and start being more professional, more cold, and stop feeling that we like our jobs – instead we should do whatever we “like” in our spare time, keeping the workplace as a transactional place: you give a certain amount of time, do the job you are asked to do and nothing more, and in return you get your salary. Don’t expect any compassion, any interest shown in you or your life, don’t expect your boss to be like a father or mother to you.
Today I could read a blog post from a freelance consultant, a programmer, who basically just said that consultants want to be left alone – no collaboration, please, just give them a task and let them do it without any interference (especially from the client). Larger tasks should be split so that each individual could work alone with their own part of it, not needing to communicate or collaborate with anyone.
The management consultant’s statements are very much in the opposite direction of what management development has been all about during the last 30 years or so. The programmer consultant’s statements are of an almost revolutionary nature. It looks like if there is some kind of radicalization and power demonstration going on – a new pressure on the workers along with revolutionary tendencies building up. But a revolution would require some kind of social sense, a feeling of being connected. What is happening now looks more like a “leave me alone”-revolution where people are trying to disconnect from the obligations of living in a society.
The nationalist tendencies in society, the wall building between countries, seems to dig deeply into the soul of every inhabitant, making them also building walls between individuals. So the revolution building up seems to be one of individuals feeling nothing for other individuals, a revolution towards anarchy.
Cats and dogs
Little noticed by most, but actually of a huge importance – a parasite has been discovered, that lives in mice, making them feel attracted to cats who then eat the mice, complete with the parasite. From the cats, humans can also get infected. And apparently a very large part of the world’s population of humans, perhaps 30%, do actually have this parasite living in them. In some countries it is twice as many.
What is special about this parasite, when it lives in people, is that it makes them softer, more social – or even more prone to display a feminine behavior, as some scientists put it.
Maybe we can thank that cat-parasite for making us fight less and treat each other in a mostly decent manner? I mean, a less social behavior, a more masculine one, according to those scientists, would lead to more fighting and less feelings, less empathy, less collaboration, less freedom… you get the picture? We have, due to that parasite, so far been prevented from radicalizing our society, which is now about to happen anyway, for some reason.
Did the parasite loose its magic? Did it die? Or could it be that there is another, competing, parasite in play – maybe a dog-parasite? Such one that makes us less social, more masculine… a parasite that for some reason is spreading and now becoming dominant, causing the old rivalry between cats and dogs to flare up and the dog mentality so far seeming to be the stronger one and, hence, taking over.
In that case, prepare for the age of the dog.