This is a historical constant. Throughout history, people have always believed there were things wrong with the world. The problem is that in our current era, these complaints converge.
However, the underlying larger problem they indicate is hard to clearly identify. Even when spotted, it is hard to articulate. And then communicating it is difficult.
There is a growing sense of unease in our world and distrust of our direction. At first it manifests with frustration with politicians, then with the economy, and finally with social institutions.
Unfortunately, none of these change even when many of us bemoan them. They are consistently bad, and consistently self-renewing. It’s as if people say one thing and do another.
Much as every person has a different complaint, some complaints are real; of those, some are accurate. The rest are everyday humdrum inconveniences hyped into a mythology.
The accurate and real complaints form a silhouette around a wrong turn we took some centuries ago. This was the idea that an external choice of a pre-existing option could give power and meaning.
Individuals in our society, feeling weak and pressured, wanted sure bets that would alleviate their problems. Take this pill; buy this product; read this holy book and swear by it.
But these external things could not substitute for the process that gives life meaning, which is an internal one. First, decide whether to do good or ill; second, decide what will be the challenge of your life.
Any fool can live comfortably with wealth, warm slippers and a polished pipe smouldering on the coffee table. Yet what makes that comfort significant is that it was wrought out of nothingness.
The adversity provided by life is what gives us a sense of conquest. We were uncomfortable; we overcame our fears, and struggled toward the goal of comfort; now we enjoy it.
The sense of satisfaction and purpose is the joy, and the comfort itself a signal of that joy.
Many people however want to believe it is the other way around. Impose the comfort, and the person gets the satisfaction of having beaten back discomfort. However the feeling of joy is not there.
Our entire society has built itself around the idea of external satisfaction of internal needs.
As a result, we put the wrong people into power; we make the wrong people wealthy; we make our decisions backward, waiting until a problem exists and then deciding on a band-aid, not figuring out in advance how to avoid those problems.
Our people are hollow and leaning, exhausted and bitter, struggling for objectives in which they do not believe. Yet we assume they need more of the same, and prescribe pills and vacations.
Without internal clarity and moral alignment we cannot even enjoy the vast wealth of our technology and history. We stumble through life, making bad decisions because we are distracted by the irrelevance of the questions behind them.
Our wrong turn was to discount our inner selves, and to focus on our external selves and the struggle to make those equal. That struggle originated in our desire to look important to others, and to have power.
The real power we need is within. The power to command our own souls. To say that this is what we stood for, and this is the challenge we conquered. This is what we created instead.
Up until now this has not been a popular sentiment. People want the pill, the quick fix. But as those quick fixes only intensify the misery, people are reaching out by reaching inward, away from our wrong turn of centuries ago.