Posted by: Dr Pano Kroko Churchill | June 13, 2014

Here is how to exit the Rat Race and how to find a new path to quench our Thirst for Growth

Are you visiting the gym just to step on the treadmill?

Driving miles in traffic just to hop on the stationary bike?

Or spending hours watching the telly while walking on the rolling carpet of the incline?

The perennial treadmill is good for killing time and sedating the heart, but methinks there is no need to go spend your life on the treadmill, because you are already constantly competing on a big one.

We are all seemingly running constantly the infamous rat race — which is the equivalent of the human treadmill.

Yet one might ask, why?

Because you believed the faulty ideology of ever expanding growth and the J-curve of human wants and manufactured needs. And because you believed that human nature has to constantly and verily be exploited for some sort of expansion — so you joined the race. All economics speaks of growth. All civilized folks seem to be on the run for some sort of development. All hipsters seek personal development and personal growth. All career minded people look for climbing the ladder of success to reach the plateau where the benefits are like being in paradise.

You bought all that lock stock and barrel and  then You joined the race willingly and fully knowing. Yet maybe, you didn’t read the small print cautioning that the race is endless. Maybe you skipped reading the fine print in your hurry to join up the race to the exit.

Yet if you knew then, what You know now — you might still have gone down that road of the rat race — but as a smart one.

But read on and see for yourself, that if you knew what am going to be sharing with you now, you wouldn’t dare go down that path unflinchingly.

Because methinks that just for Life preservation purposes you would have chosen to not be a slave to a silly ideology that makes you chase the carrot hanging from a stick so you can propel the cart down the road.

Instead you might have woken up and admittedly might have been crestfallen — yet you would have opted out of the rat-race and gone to live a normal life…

But you didn’t. 

So here we are going to seed some truth your way. I’ll drop some wisdom and see if you catch my drift.

Dripping wisdom is like Chinese water torture. Unless you start shifting and changing when you embrace it and internalize it — it will drill a hole in your skull and drive you mad.

So here are some drips of truth.

Let’s start with the true wisdom.

Of course you already know the stages of truth:

“All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.”  –Arthur Schopenhauer. Philosopher (1788-1860)

Let me drip some further wisdom down your gullet:

“There are two ways to be fooled. One is to believe what isn’t True; the other is to refuse to believe what IS True” –Soren Kierkegaard (1813-1855). Philosopher

Well … You know all that.

Yet you seem to have believed the lie that the Rat-race is all there is to Life and you can leave behind all others on your way to the top.

But what top is that?

And pray tell — do you even know which way is up?

I don’t think you know.

Cause if you look at the rat race as an instrument of terror — it fits. And if you see it from an idea of control and domination, it fits too.

And if you want to talk about quality of life — it sure fits the bill. Because when you are constantly on the treadmill for guinea pigs that we call the Rat-Race, you know that your Life becomes Hell-On-Earth.

Historical economics are a treasure trove of interesting Theories. But they are all just theories…. Theories to help us understand the way we work, live, consume, get governed, and spend. 

A couple of centuries earlier we had in Marx’s words, two social classes in constant conflict, where one class controlled the means of production, the machines, the factories and the factors of production and forced the other class, the proletariat, to work hard in order to create products saleable for added value and thus cause the existence of profit and accumulation of wealth.

And that fits well with classical economic theory from the likes of Hume, Bentham and Ricardo, same as that of Adam Smith and even Keynes.

 What is new today is the obsession of all governing bodies with the Neo-Liberal economics without understanding. Because Neo-Liberal Economics is that everyone, no matter what job you have, works to provide more. More & more & more, all the time increasing productivity for whom?

 This is the treadmill of Life and career we are all being placed upon to run perpetually like so many lab rats moving along measured and observed on our tiny wheels. And this rat race, has been internalized by all of us. To the point that we all do it to ourselves. Striving to always produce more, work harder, achieve more, consume more. We indoctrinate this to our children too. We never let them chill out but instead we teach them that the essence of Life is to work more, to make more, to spend more. A never ending cycle of expansion, ego, suffering, remorse, built-in-failure, and insatiable appetite for consuming ever more.

We must admit this is an unpleasant thing, no matter what the Media portrays of it. We must admit that in a finite planet with finite resources and infinite appetites there is going to be a dust up. A big mess is awaiting us on the way to the mall.

Because when you don’t heed the signals the end is near. The 16th Dalai Lama Guatso Rinpoche says this about people: “It always amazes me how people are constantly willing to trade Life for money and at the end they enjoy neither.”

Guilty as charged… And what for? More and more and more? Never being happy with enough?

A rich man is not one who has a lot of money, but one has a few needs. I believe we need to practice that because going the other way, a serious communal nervous breakdown is upon us. The end is near when all we are doing is monitoring our own selfishness, ever expanding desires, and increased.productivity. We are killing ourselves before our time, by driving to extinction our own sense of proportion and constantly crossing over the thin red line of human anguish. Mind you that every time this line is crossed over — people end up going nuts. Not just nuts, like the Prozac nation, but serious raving lunatic and dangerous schizoid kind-a-nuts.

Mixed up nuts. All in the same can. Am talking the kind of nuts where they take up the guns and start shooting up the place, the school, the restaurant, the church, the mall, the Walmart…. that kind of nuts.  Yes now that all modern societies are enjoying their  breakfast of Champions — and guns and ammo are as close as your keyboard and mouse, and with weapons of mass destruction lurking all over the internet for the right wacked out job, we are all suffering the consequences of this drive to ever greater heights of folly and expansionary thinking.

And as we self medicate the brain we are all getting more damaged by this ideology. Am talking about people consuming more Coke, more heroin, more caffeine, alcohol, and all the other kinds of drugs producing highs and lows and inducing stupor to be able to keep on the treadmill.

You know there is another choice: Get off the treadmill. Stop the drugs that medicate the public in addition to the prescription drugs for the crazies amongst us who now number a sobering 27% of the general population and start building community and enjoyment of Life. Stop treating the symptoms and treat the root causes of the problem. Solve society’s ills and stop thinking that you need to stuff everyone up to the gills with pills so they can keep on running.

Capice?

Keep in mind …. You are not alone…. Many others have driven themselves crazy following the latest trend and seeking the latest I-phone, Tesla, or gadget to have. The levels of cocaine on our river Thames are so high – the fish are jumping up on the banks and walk about to the nearest pub…

 And this speed in society, puts everyone on edge because one wonders constantly whether doing  the right thing or not. One recalibrates their compass all the time, based on fashions, cycles, competitors, and because we want to optimize ourselves as human capital.

  And in modern working life you constantly get told how to optimize your productivity, how to be a better cogwheel, how to fit better in the machine, how to run better the treadmill, and how to win the rat race as human capital.

In an ecological context, there is an overexploitation of nature with natural resources and ecosystem services and supplies that are fully emptied and diminished each and every year well before Nature has the time to regenerate them. That is wrong. But we also see something similar for humans. We humans are seen as being constant dynamic and plastic-like “psyches” that can be stretched and stretched and stretched to infinity. Until we break and die as broken people. I see that there are two kinds of exploitation: One of man’s inner nature and another of man’s outer being.

Of course, we are no longer people of nature. We don’t follow our natural cycles and we don’t even fulfil our needs. We don’t even have an opinion on what real needs we have — in addition to those false needs, capitalism has given us.

The real question is what is that we absolutely need to give us meaning?

What is needed, so that we are happy?

What does my person needs in order to find my purpose in this Life?

The answer is not that man will always seek expansion. That is an Econometric fallacy. A convenient way to justify other Economic inanities.And to make things fit in the ideology we find fashionable today.

For me it is rather likely that the true answer comes from the Book of Psalms…

“I praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; wonderful are your works, my soul knows very well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth.”

And you’ve given me Free Will so that I use it to select my own purpose here.

You are meant to be free….

Don’t squander that.

“For man to be able to live he must either not see the infinite, or have such an explanation of the meaning of life as will connect the finite with the infinite.” –Leo Tolstoy

In short: To be human means to be creative. And vice versa…

So let’s look for the new path to a sustainable creative growth because for most of human history, creativity was held to be a privilege of supreme beings, initially, the gods who shaped the heavens and the earth, and then it was human beings who were the creators and not the helpless, dependent subjects of the wrath of the gods. We switched our views as we began to understand how the world worked. Whether this will help the human race or cause its downfall is debatable. But it would help if we realized the responsibility that comes with the new role.

You would think that given its importance, creativity would have a very high priority among our concerns, but we face a disturbing reality if we look at what is really going on today. The arts are seen as dispensable luxuries and instead of exploring creative new solutions, cutting expenses is the approach of most managers trying to deal with global competition.

What holds true for the arts and the economy, also applies to education. The models of mass society and mass production still prevail in the world of mass education. The industrial society is re-born daily at the expense of a different sociocultural context that would embrace creativity.

The sociocultural context matters because creativity is a systemic rather than an individual phenomenon. Workable new solutions to our most pressing concerns will not appear by themselves as isolated ideas of independent people. Creativity is born in connections and in enriching interaction.

To say that Thomas Edison invented electricity or that Albert Einstein discovered relativity is a popular, but misleading simplification. These breakthroughs would have been inconceivable without (1) the social and intellectual network that stimulated and advanced their thinking and (2) the people who recognized the value of their contributions and spread them further. A good, new idea is not automatically passed on. From this standpoint a lighted match does not cause a fire. Rather the fire took place because of a particular combination of elements of which the lighted match was one. One cannot be creative alone. These qualities are co-created in an active process of mutual recognition.

The creative era is about interdependence, not about superhuman individuals.

An inspiring person is only inspiring by virtue of others who treat them that way. A good decision is only good if there are people around to agree with it. It is not enough to look at the individuals who seem to be responsible for a new idea. Their contribution, although important, is always an evolutionary innovation, or an incremental improvement, same as a new node in a Wi-Fi network and a new phase in a movement of thought. Best ideas are in the flow of things. Our ideas that are de novo and creative are always part of a wave of creativity that washes over us in the presence and in discourse with others as it always takes place in connections and communication with others. Our lights literally come on when we are exchanging thoughts with brilliant others. Luminous thoughts come from luminous people and vice versa. The relationship of the Human Brain with the Global Brain, the network — is both the enabler and the creative trigger, same as it is the amplifier of our voice. Much like the stand alone PC and the Internet enabled one, the human being thrives in the Age of Networks.

It is perhaps time now for a new epistemology; new ways of talking about knowledge creation, in the context of the Global Brain and the Network of Networks. The Human network. The network of humanity cooperating and co-creating as an advanced and logical species living in the Anthropocene Era.

Imagine that for a moment.

Yes many will argue that it has always been thus. True because the individual members of the species, people, and even whole Peoples, have always networked. But they also competed to death. Often for no apparent reason besides subjugation and power dynamics. But if you look at this phenomenon in peaceful terms, you’ll see that philosophers, religious leaders, scholars, and all thinkers, depended heavily on correspondence networks for the exchange of ideas before the time of the modern era schools, churches, and universities. These earlier communities, known as the “Republic of Letters” same as the Library of Alexandria or the Library of Baghdad and Mosul, were the social media of the era, and resembled the communication patterns of today astonishingly closely. Great Universities of today started out as Monasteries like Sorbonne, Oxford, Cambridge, La Sapienza, the University of Constantinople, and the Great School of Isfahan all had. Even then, the better-networked University scientist was always the better scientist, and often the best of them all. Today, the better-networked knowledge worker is usually the better worker. In the future, the better-networked student will always be the better student.

In short the best networked human will always be the most effective – if not the best creative member of the species.

The main difference from the time of early universities, and today is that earlier scientists or philosophers working by writing letters and combining them into words in order to share complex thoughts — did not have access to the network effects created by the modern printing press and the transformative efficiency of our new interaction tools of the always on wireless internet that networks our brains better than the early adopters and this pioneer ever hoped it would.

Oh, we visualized alright the evolution of thought and action when we were first inventing wireless networks or fashioning Wi-Fi, but we didn’t expect that it will come to fruition so much faster and in such a grand scale for everything.

The philosopher of old is a completely different person than a philosopher today. A “man of letters” today, is a man of ideas, thoughts, speeches, articles, written words, published books, tweets, blogposts, comments, and updates — but the principle is the same. Creativity defines us, because what matters most is the way we are in the flow, and we are skilfully presenting and communicating our ideas, thoughts, and natural observation, by using all the different means of transit, and all the experiential network tools that are available as technology and State of the Art progresses.

Still mutually recognizing and mutually supporting relationships are the core of the creative progress and growth, and that is why You find all of us huddling together in short discussions that drag into the night, or in long mentally competitive discussions, discursive conferences and intellectual congresses. We aim to cooperate and exchange in person. We all do this because this is the best way since time immemorial. The bumble bee dance of teaching and learning. We interpret the world for each other and share our common findings. That is all we do when we get together…

And it’s what friendship, family, community, company, tribe, society, and all human endeavours are all about.

Think of it: Cooperation breeds connections that surpass the logic of oneness to the point of infinity…

Yours,

Pano

PS:

To be human means to be creative.

To be creative means to co-create.

To co-create is to thrive together.

Ergo — to be thrive is to share creatively…

And maybe vice versa.


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