I can image that life is not easy for anyone…
Let’s then see. We are living through a time when the levels of human development have not ever been so high, result of more than two centuries of buoyant economic growth and successive technological revolutions that boost the human labor productivity. With no room for doubt, we are healthier than our forefathers. We live longer… We are on average more educated than our grandparents. We consume and we are surrounded by conveniences and comforts as we have never been in history… At the same time, paradoxically, it seems that something is missing. A hole there in the bottom of the heart that usually we don’t know how to explain… As if the spirit of our age suffered of a chronic malaise of lack of sense and proposal. Stressed, anguished, depressed we consume, also in scale ever recorded, mood stabilizers, anxiolytics and antidepressants, and other pharmacopeias trying to make ourselves to feel better in front of the mirror.
The individuality much touted in its ideological, political and economic expression of the laissez-faire is presented in every possible manifestation of our time… We are beings in thesis increasingly free to think, to love, to consume, to come and go… We enjoy a supposed civilization peak which in turn charges its price in the logic essentially individualist of our time. As we are apparently freer to live as we please, we are also more responsible for our will and what we do with our lives. If the things go down on the right road, we collect the prize. Otherwise, we fall flat on our faces and most often helpless.
Therefore, we live the paradox of living in abundance, but at same time feeling constantly threat by the risk of not being able to keep up with the breakneck pace of being productive and accumulating. Without safeguards, we live under the sign of fear. The fear of not meeting the expectations, fear of not achieving the goals we set for ourselves or that are imposed by the world that surrounds us. The fear of not having… What in the materialism and individualism of our times leads to the fear of not being. At the end of the day, to the biggest of all human being’s fear of not feeling accepted. The fear of loneliness.
In response to this state of affairs, we hold onto the work ethic as we are chained to a destiny that few are capable of or dare to challenge… As if the work was our salvation, a vaccine or elixir against the risk of exclusion relieving the symptoms of the fear that inhabits each one of us. However, unfortunately, the work seems that won’t save us either. At least, not the work as the majority of us conceives it… A recent study by University of Oxford points out that the information technology age may lead to the disappearance of 47% of the today jobs, which are at the risk of being automatized in the next two decades or so. The technology at the service of the capitals will not let anyone rest seizing each and every penny from the productive value chains. Thus, do not delude yourself because even your precious job can be in the hotseat thanks the exponential computing power and the omnipresence of digital information (big data), replaced by machines capable of executing the same tasks more efficiently and cheaper than you do.
And what we can do in face of this situation? That’s the one million dollar question given that the logic of efficiency and accumulation does not seem to give room to any possible alternative, with the governments unprepared to tackle with the social unfolding events which are there already or, that still are to be unfolded, consequence of the advances of capitalism boosted by technology. And the answer… It seems lies more than ever inside of us.
In a world marked by the individualism, it is fundamental that our attitude towards work is rethought. We shall be capable of surviving as individuals independently of the traditional relations of employment and employee/employer, once those are being narrowed every passing day and it is clear that there will not be place for everyone. We live times that demand a new individual identity. Identity that is built at its full potential when the individual is able to see beyond the bookkeeping of professional experience that actually is chronologically stated in our curriculum vitae. We shall free ourselves from the chains of our own social capital that if on the one hand is an asset by leveraging network and opportunities, on the other hand is a tormentor and an inhibitor of the new. Of thinking out of the box…
One day having lunch with Eduardo Seidenthal of Rede Ubuntu in an animated conversation I let out a “we shall find our intangibles!” Here, once again that same idea comes up. The personal characteristics, knowledge, capacities and attitudes which set us apart as unique and precious individual we are. We all have our intangibles that are waiting to be discovered and released in order that alternatives can be built. New grounds can be broken. New connections and collaborations can be forged. Intangibles are those characteristics that make us human… Unique. The potentia of being. Our purpose combined with our capacity. Countless possible combinations like genes of an embryo of a future that can be built by following our life purpose.
But for this is fundamental to believe. This exercise cognitively so simple of conceiving and emotionally so difficult of realizing. It’s up to us individuals the daring of challenging our time and of building the future setting us free of our moorings of our insecurities, of our own fears, of our certainties, prejudices, beliefs and of mistrust and of distance from others. Of the world that views more our past as if saw us through the rear-view mirror of our failures, success and appearance and less through the windshield of possibilities that we have ahead of us. In a world marked by liquidity and by the decline of the certainties, on which almost 50% of the occupations are going to disappear in two decades, to be and to remain productive is greatly an exercise of boldness of reinventing yourself every single day with a purpose in your heart and an idea in your mind. Believe. We are all capable of doing it to a lesser or greater degree… No matter how simple we might be.
Photo credits: Renato Fonseca