In about 2012, I remember attending a company wide conference call, with the global travel management company I was working for. Our new CEO for North America proudly announced
his key mission for the division... "Growth, Growth, Growth".
It wasn't exactly an inspiring vision, LOL!, besides the fact that around
this time I was starting to question our whole economic system.
On that call, I wanted to say, "Never-ending growth... I don't get
it. What's wrong with just creating 'enough'... why do we need more and more and more? What's wrong with enough employees, enough customers, enough markets, and enough profit, and then making relative and thoughtful adjustments up and down as we go along?
Other than perhaps for inflation, why do any of the numbers need to keep going up exponentially? Why is bigger better? And why does the concept of inflation even exist?"
I didn't ask that question, partially because I didn't have the words at the time, and I realized I was bringing a philosophical question into a political meeting. I also had a lot of felt-as-justified judgment toward the
leadership at that time, and didn't expect to get a genuinely thoughtful answer. And, I imagine I had some concern about how just asking that question would affect me and my job.
In hindsight, I wish I had been able to drop all of my internal insecurity and to positively engage instead... to have curiously asked some form of that same question without judgment or expectations, and only with
goodwill and compassion and an open heart. It may still have resulted in a dismissive political response, or maybe not. But I sense that just the loving delivery and form of question could have been a gentle little wave rippling out in some beautiful and mysterious
way... for me and whomever else was on the call.
Prior to that time, I had spent about 30 years being an enthusiastic and cooperative
member of a system that encouraged my fellow human beings to get into cars, buses, ships, trains, planes, and hotels, travelling all around the world as much as possible, without any inkling of consideration for the incomprehensible amount of resources being
consumed and the ecological and societal collateral damages that were being created. All because there wasn't any broader societal awareness to think or do otherwise.
I LOVED travel. I loved the travel industry. And I had the (as yet unrealized to me) privilege of never having to question any of it.
All of the growing fallout of unlimited travel was either far enough away from me or so complex that I couldn't see it. I couldn't piece together the connection between the electronic TV screen keeping me occupied on my
10 hour flight to Amsterdam, and the exploited children in the DRC digging up the minerals for those electronics. I would just be disappointed if, God forbid, the screen at my seat was not working, or irritated that the volume buttons were in an awkward spot
In the embrace of a life of much comfort and security, combined with the specific life challenges that I had been uniquely
gifted, including what I affectionately refer to as "my personal crazy", I spent most of my life rarely questioning the nature of the systems I have wholly participated in.
All of this brings to mind that famous quote by a German business leader being questioned about his participation in the Holocaust... his statement was something to the effect of, "Asking me what I knew is the wrong question.
You should be asking me what I could have known if I had wanted to."
With some of my own change of awareness happening over the years,
I've slowly been extricating myself out of those systems ("slowly" being another privilege of mine). Despite the baby steps approach, it has at times felt painful, and difficult, and stressful, and overwhelming for me to do so.
The momentum of human insecurity is so incredibly powerful and so pervasive in its reach, that it is imbedded within almost every facet of modern life. It pervades all
our societal norms and traditions and structures and habits, our language, our identities, our education, our work, our industry, our agriculture, our economics, our politics, our communications and media, and our religions, besides (and ultimately because
of) the unrealized insecurity within each of us.
And truthfully, despite 10 years of gradual extrication, I'm still way more in those
systems than out of them.
I'm "sort of retired" at the moment, and most of my savings is a maze of "Canadian government certified
RRSP-Registered Retirement Savings Plan" complex investments in the hands of my financial advisor. As of yet I have not dared to dig in too deeply into the harms that any or all of those investments may be doing... although I did have a brief discussion about
eco-friendly-investments. LOL! I don't appear to be secure enough yet to navigate the alternatives. Hopefully that change will come to me sooner rather than later.
And so here in 2022, while comfortably sitting on my fraying-with-age-but-quite-enough-as-it-is couch, and I enjoy a delicious dinner mostly sourced from local organic farmers, in my relatively small home, my investments do their
systemic magic, working behind the scenes, creating mostly short-term good for myself and a few others others, while possibly, in many ways, creating long-term not-so-good for many others and for humanity overall.
From the greater perspective of the whole, philosophical, and profound... if those investments are not good for ALL others, then they're not good for me. I may not see the
direct evidence of that, but I can intuitively know and feel the deeper truth of it.
I don't have an answer for any of this. How can
I? Even experts frequently disagree. And I am just one person, with education and experience in only a few disciplines, and no true ability to fully comprehend or make sense of the infinitely complex whole.
And yet, I wonder if I really need to know everything, to be able to live a life that is harmonious with the long term health of the whole?
Nature seems to thrive beautifully without appearing to "intellectually know" what it's doing. I'm part of nature, so perhaps there's a clue in that for me?
The only thing I have that appears to be beyond my limited and limiting intellect is the deeply felt "truths" that I frequently forget, but that I am learning to better realize
and perceive and fall back into... truths such as...
...that I always HAVE enough even when I think I don't (realized abundance versus
...that I always AM enough even when I think I am not (realized connection versus separation)
...that being-in-tune-with-nature-and-life is never in what I do, but is in the deeper feeling from which
I do it... and therefore, being able to answer this question...
Are my actions in this moment coming from a feeling of security (love,
kindness, trust, care, connection, joy, awe, wonder, flow, lightness, light-heartedness, openness, humour, clarity, creativity, curiosity, understanding, peace, compassion, abundance, goodwill, generosity, gratitude, all-in-this-togetherness)?
Or are my actions in this moment coming from a feeling of insecurity (fear, judgment, othering, anger, hate, finger-pointing, blame, separation, constriction, heaviness,
seriousness, guardedness, desperation, defensiveness, aggressiveness, condemnation, pity, saviourism, superiority, sense of lack, righteousness, them-versus-us-ness)?
Perhaps another way of looking at it, is with this simple question... Who am I becoming?
practical day to day, it's not necessarily easy to know who I am becoming or which motivations (secure or insecure) are driving my actions in each passing moment... my insecure sense of self can, in attempting to protect itself, very easily blur my ability
to discern the difference.
But, I think I'm learning... and perhaps that's the point. And perhaps just that, is enough for finding
and living more of the secure within the insecure.
With Love and Laughter,