Happy New Year!
I hope you have come well into the new year. Let's make 2021 a better year together.
I deal a lot with social change, economics, complex systems, and consciousness. I don't always find it easy to interact in the existing system. Maybe it is the same for you. I don't like it when someone says this is mainstream and that is not, who judges that? I wrote this article on New Year's Eve. A bit rough still, as rough as the previous year was for many of us. I had received an email from a reader, I don't get many letters to the editor :-) But he asked about daily rituals. That's hard to answer; I meditate, exercise, try to get good sleep, eat plant-based (mostly vegan), read, write, meet people, work, do yoga, and lately some qigong.
But about that, I might make another newsletter. And you could do me a big favor and share this newsletter with your friends. Will help me a lot.
What is the problem? Why are we separating more and more from each other?
The third world has been shrinking for forty years. The biggest development challenge is that a rich world of one billion people is facing a poor world of five billion people. Most of the five billion people, about 80 percent, live in countries that are actually developing, often at an astonishing rate. The real challenge of development is that there is a group of countries at the bottom that are lagging behind and often falling apart.
What a tumultuous year, right?
Where should we start and where do our thoughts end. This year I lacked too much to talk about the issues such as climate change, love, mutual obligations, and more. All the more I have the feeling that we are getting further and further away from each other. Us against the others. The others against us and in the end we both lose. It's not just happening right in front of our eyes, but we're blocking it out more and more.
Let´s face it the countries at the bottom are living in the twenty-first century, but their reality is the fourteenth century: Civil war, epidemics, ignorance. They are concentrated in Africa and Central Asia but are scattered elsewhere. Even in the 1990s, looking back to the golden decade between the end of the Cold War and 9/11, incomes in this group fell by 5 percent. We need to learn to turn the familiar numbers on their heads: a total of five billion people already living in prosperity, or at least on their way to it, and one billion stuck at the bottom. Hundreds of millions of people will flee these countries in the coming years. Not because they want to, but because they have to. The reasons will be very different.
We need to develop other rules of the game to prepare for this. This path will not be an easy one, and much will have to happen in parallel. Like developing sovereignty, prosperity, spirituality, not taking resources from the earth anymore or modern "tech" solutions like Web3 or other means to accompany the way.
In my everyday life, I have to do nevertheless again and again with cynical words. That I will elevate something to a meta-level or spirituality in order to use this as a way out of this bleak, discouraging universe of the history of separation. I won't, because unfortunately spirituality, as we typically understand it, is itself an essential component of separation. It concedes that the bleak materialism offered by science is essentially correct: that holiness, purpose, and feeling cannot reside in matter itself, cannot be found among the generic subatomic building blocks of the material world. These things, says spirituality, are instead found in another, non-material realm, the realm of spirit.
Under this premise, the goal of spirituality becomes to transcend the material realm and ascend into the spiritual. A kind of anti-materialism permeates such teachings as "you are not your body" as well as the effort to "raise one's vibrations." Considering that our environmental collapse also comes from anti-materialism (a devaluing and desacralizing of the material world), perhaps we should reconsider these teachings. What is so special about "high" vibrations? Is a Piano less beautiful than a guitar Is a rock less sacred than a cloud? Is the earth less sacred than the sky? Is higher better than lower? Is high better than low? Is abstract better than concrete? Is the reason better than a feeling? Is pure better than disorderly? Is a man better than a woman?
Why are we so desperate to escape the material world? Is it really so bleak? Or could it rather be that we have made it bleak: obscured its living mystery with our ideological blinders, severed its infinite connectedness with our categories, suppressed its spontaneous order with our pavement, reduced its infinite variety with our commodities, shattered its eternity with our measurement of time, and denied its abundance with our monetary system? If so, then we are misguided when we appeal to a non-material spiritual realm for our salvation from the prison of materiality.
In my opinion, we should do everything to make the "materialistic" world worth living in. If we hold strong, we can emerge together to create the wealthiest, healthiest, most extraordinary civilization in history. If we do not, we will join the ranks of every other failed civilization for future historians to puzzle over. Our children will either thank us for bringing them an Age of Freedom or curse us for condemning them to another dark age. The choice is ours.
Malte J. Wagenbach