In the world of today, we are increasingly obliged to maximize the use of our time. Not only at work, where you make the direct connection between time-wasted and money-wasted, but in virtually every aspect of our daily lives. In fact, as time goes on, more of our time and energy-resources are taken up to just keep our noses above water; leaving less to think about what we are doing, what are kids might be up to, WHAT ARE GOVERNMENTS are up to?
Two ‘social’ operatives appear to be in vogue these days:
Division: In the division, trenches are allowed to form between the divided, MAKING IT HARDER TO UNITE IN A COMMON CAUSE against a common problem; since you must first bridge the divide. We stand united; we fall divided.
Busy-ness: We are too busy to properly give consideration to things. We have time only to react, according to how one is already wired. ‘Reaction’ implies the absence of any premeditation. We react to events according to our personal, ‘hard-wired’ default.
Do you find yourself thinking about something other than what you are doing AT THE MOMENT? As our lives get busier and busier, the ‘must-dos’ gobble up a greater portion of our time and energy; leaving less time for other things, like giving consideration to raising our families (unless you call jogging behind your stroller quality time with the kid), and de-stressing and rejuvenating oneself after a particularly hard day. To catch-up, we are still working on the previous task or working on the next one before we get to it. No time to recharge our mental batteries. Our social environment is predisposing us to mental health issues: you simply cannot apply unrelenting, increasing pressure to anything, willy-nilly. Given enough pressure, ANYTHING will snap.
So, the government comes to our aid by providing us with mental-health professionals. These are intelligent, well-meaning individuals thrust into a task that is doomed to failure. I say this because the root causes of mental illness today are largely external, as indicated above. The root cause are what need to be addressed, or the symptoms will continue to express. Government needs to provide the political will to create an environment that is conducive to mental health.
As it is now, the environment many folks are living in, pounds away at their mental stamina like Superior’s waves do the shoreline of Batchawana Bay. We are changed, slowly, imperceptibly; eventually we no longer know ourselves. We leave no crumb trail to find our way back to the ‘place’ we once were as children/young adults, where our dreams and hopes still live. The mental health pros try to help us find our way, but the goal posts keep moving and so does the ground beneath our feet -this because of the worsening social, environmental, and geopolitical situation the World, our world, is in.
Even machines breakdown and require repair and maintenance. If machines are properly maintained (this is always thought a good idea, but is the first thing to get jettisoned from the business plan once profits begin to fall), they likely won’t breakdown unexpectedly. When machines aren’t routinely maintained, they are run with the anticipation of breakdown, at some point. It will be replaced when it does. The old broken machine ends up in the Dump. There is always a newer version ready to take over, only to be ‘run into the ground’ in turn.
Humans deserve more consideration than that.
Some get it. The children of wealthier folks are educated to become the next employers, leaders, professionals, politicians. But more and more children in society will not experience the opportunities the children of wealthier parents do. When opportunity is determined by wealth, the basis for social cohesion is compromised. The binary, two-tiered social structure that evolves from the condition of ‘unequal opportunity’ is the beginning of the end of that society. [China, for example, is openly two-tiered: if you follow the party-line; if you never dissent, if you look the other way and maintain your silence when ‘the party’ does something insidious), then you may get an opportunity to join the upper tier. Else, you risk being sent to a forced labour camp. It is only a matter of time before the Xi regime will collapse into itself. I pray a democratic order will emerge, phoenix-like, from the ashes of the Xi regime. I pray this will happen without bloodshed, or the onset of WW III].
Humans are not machines, hello? but just like machines, if properly maintained, they will last and produce for a good, long time. Folks need downtime, recovery time, time to energize the spirit. Acts of love and nurture, ‘acts of giving’ are spiritually energizing for everyone. Time away from the daily litany of responsibilities, to just be, in a forest, say, is spiritually renewing. But when is there time for it?
The point is, we are working hard at cross-purposes with common sense, spinning our wheels, accomplishing nothing, save for digging ourselves deeper into the snowbank, while trying to climb to the top of a mountain, one that is growing larger all the time.
It is the situation that is making it impossible for us to keep up. We compensate by using our ‘away time’ to catch up on the must-dos, when it is needed for us to recharge. Because we have less opportunity, time-wise to unpack and process our experiences, less time for the energy those experiences have evoked to dissipate, we end up with mental and spiritual breakdowns.
No worries: if you have enough money, you can pay someone else to do all of the running around (a situation your lifestyle is creating for many, many other of your compatriots), while you take the time to rejuvenate on a golf course Wednesday afternoons, sun yourself in the Caymans, take in an opera, show your children all the wonders of the World, and oh yes! give yourself a pat on the back for all of the opportunity you provide your own children, while the children of working-poor parents struggle for ANY OPPORTUNITY AT ALL. The proverbial ‘scraps from the masters table’ aren’t even scraps anymore, but only the opportunity to look for scraps.
Until the ‘puppet masters’ of the World, our world, get with the program and desist from an egoic social vision (profit for us, misery (or virtual happiness) for everyone else), we will need to help ourselves and one another. Here’s what I suggest:
Cultivate the discipline to be in the NOW. When you leave a task behind, allow yourself time to not think, to just ‘be’ as you progress toward the next item on the todo list. Keep your attention on what is around you and upon your feet as they contact the ground under you. Don’t allow your mind to move onto the next task until the task is at hand. Don’t allow your mind to remain with the task or issue you had just completed.
Do this, and your soul will neither feel the drag of the past and its regrets, nor the pull of the future and its anxieties. Your mind will be given rest and fill its sails.
You remove the weight your being consciousness of past or future casts upon your soul.
Do this, and you will open up to the healing, rejuvenating, magic of Now-ness. You will feel happy.
You will become grounded (your starting point) in joy, completeness, and fulfilment, rather than proceeding from a basis of lack, of regret and anxiety.
Accomplish this, and we will live in a World, our world, under the auspices of the Golden Rule. A world that will resemble the Garden we turned away from, many years ago.
Perhaps our Liberals in Ottawa will incorporate the needed changes into their COVID-19 recovery process? So far, I have heard nothing, despite the fact that ‘equality of opportunity’ is a prime tenet of the Liberal Party and of Liberalism.
The Liberals routinely parrot the notion of ‘evidence-based’ policy-making. There is nothing more in evidence than that poverty excludes folks from opportunity. The wealthy among us are incapable to acknowledge this, just as the child cannot acknowledge that the parent is doing them the greatest good by not allowing them treats before supper.
But the wealthy would benefit equally along with the poor, from the ‘parent’ (the government) who acquires the political will TO DO THE RIGHT THING, for this generation, and the ones to follow.
When the ‘rope’ which connects us as Canadians is strained too far for too long, it will break, and the Canadian vision will be forever lost, to wealthy and poor alike.