Much has been said about the economic slowdown that began by many accounts in 2007, however not as much has been said about the way that it will change social and corporate economic values for the better. We will benefit from this slowdown in many ways, including financially. For many people, this is the first real taste of prolonged economic hardship they have had to endure. When asked, they will share the stories of loss and forced change that have occurred. Too few I believe, can see the benefits longer term from having to make due with less resources.
Many times in life we can look back at something in the past that seemed like a disaster at the time but in hindsight you see that it lead to something better or made something possible that could not have come about any other way. In these cases, we realize that our previous way of behaving required the painful correction to bring an improvement to the future.
Everything in nature has cycles, and each part of the cycle has a purpose. Day prepares for Night and Summer for Winter. Lean times prepare for abundance. Society has changed exponentially in the last 100 years and every decade seems to bring change at quicker rate. The result is our attention spans have become shorter and we expect faster gratification for our efforts.
The odd thing is, with all the technologies and conveniences we now enjoy it seems that people are becoming more separate from what it is we are, what it is we want, and how we can be happy. It seems there is something about us that makes our comfort our undoing. We need to recognize that this cycle has meaning, and the reason that it is lasting so long is that we are not receiving the message it is sending.
It has been said that the cure for the recession is the recession, and if we let it run it's course instead of trying to manipulate the system artificially, then we can get through it. The problem seems to center around the fact powerful banks, corporations and government have become one and the same, and that natural cycles do not fit the corporate earnings projection. While individually we recognize that slowdowns are a natural phenomenon, in the corporate boardroom no one wants it to happen on their shift. The prolonging of this natural cycle through artificial stimulus only exacerbates the problem. Perhaps this cycle has a more profound lesson in it, that will become more fully evident after we have progressed through it. With powerful corporate controlled nations exercising their will on the populace, the result of this heavy handed manipulation of economics is that it will force us to change the structure to fix the problem. Then we will progress through the natural cycle when we accept the lessons that we are supposed to learn from it, and benefit by moving to a new and improved way of functioning.
It seems that most of the problems we encounter in the more developed nations are a result of this phenomena of over consumption of all things material which seems to distract us from the needed consumption of all things with real bearing on real personal fulfillment. Not the kind that is marketed to us all day long. The unique things that are related to our own personal configuration and mission in life.
The result is an unhappy, and predominately overweight society. The fact that obesity is at an all time high in developed nations seems to exemplify the problem. When you consume more than you need, or what you do not need, your body slows down and shows symptoms of the need for a change in behavior.
We live in an information age, with torrents of information being blasted at us from multiple media sources from the time we wake up to the time we go to sleep. This literally forms our consciousness, as it is well known that you become what you spend your time thinking about. This information we are being targeted with is comprised of primarily corporate advertising, urging us to consume something in order to gain some perceived benefit. It is hard to avoid this social hypnosis with all the media bombardment and pressure from those within our respective demographic groups that have already succumbed to this influence and we feel compelled to consume these items in order to “fit in”.
Corporations are now directing this marketing towards the emerging growth countries as they begin to adopt the values of the developed nations with more mature economic systems. The pervasive mentality that is marketed to them reflects the belief that to advance the standard of living you must accumulate more “stuff” that is made valuable by the hypnotic social conditioning and non-stop marketing of consumer goods that corporations are promoting.
It is predictable that in these emerging growth nations we are seeing a rise in stress, obesity, drug addiction, alcoholism, diabetes, and a host of other related diseases that never existed when society was not so “advanced”. Without all the external input of media, and trappings of consumerism you are forced to focus more on essentials like personal growth and family oriented values. You do not have the problems associated with worrying about all your possessions or getting more of them because someone else wants you to think you should. Not to mention the associated vices of all the compulsive behaviors characterized by too much focus on food, sex, alcohol and drugs created by consumerism and the stress related diseases that result from them.
My hope is that by a forced slowdown of constant cycle of borrowing and spending people have time to notice that real satisfaction and real happiness is not gained from social comparison or purchasing the latest gizmo. My belief is that most, if not all, of the ailments affecting people of developed nations are those of excess. Too much of everything. There might be something to be said for minimalism, getting back to basics and focusing on what is important and necessary. I think most who have been caught up in this downdraft will say that they are not going to approach leverage or finance the same again as a result.
I believe it could be said that people are happier when they are working toward goals of being and doing and not getting and having. This economic struggle can force us to operate more efficiently and do away with all that does not serve us and make us a stronger and more productive society. I believe that in order to come through this we will need to balance the scales of society between the established power centers and the real needs of the consumers resulting in a more conscious capitalism. Perhaps this is what is good about a bad economy.