Security & Prosperity
Voters have always demanded security and prosperity as the reward for electing their politicians. The difference today is that both are perceived as being under serious threat. Terrorism has cast a long shadow over the concept of civilisation. Purposeful wars were at least understandable if not morally acceptable. Pointless killings make mankind distinctly inferior to the animals we claim are less developed than us. Terrorism betrays every philosophy the human race has pondered and strikes at the very purpose of life.
Progress was prosperity when I was young. I remember a debate in the early days of Edward Hulton’s Europe House, that precursor to economic and political collaboration, in which the advantages of cooperation were weighed against the sublimation of sovereignty. Cooperation won hands down on both war-avoidance and economic grounds. Although it predicated an inexorable shift to the political middle ground, this was accepted as a sign of humankind’s growth in stature, an advance towards reasonable fairness without losing the wit-sharpening competitive streak we were born with.
Now prosperity is threatened as economic power shifts from carbon-based to sustainable energy and labour transfers from humans to robots. Our purposes of, initially, survival, then health, then education, then pleasure, then longevity are on the way to being satisfied. To what purpose shall we then turn? A world full of unemployed people, even if economically provided for, will leave a big gap in our reason for existence. And, as the old saying goes, ‘the devil finds time for idle hands’.
You may say that we are a long way from satisfaction with life. The number of people who come to us for help to find meaning endorses that sentiment. The dissatisfaction we see is often because the distribution of wealth is so abysmally poor. But it is not because of lack of so-called satisfactions for those who have the money to acquire them. It is because the process of acquisition itself becomes unsatisfying. ‘More’ really does often mean ‘worse’.
Governments will rightly continue to provide security and prosperity as a priority. Both may, in the short term, become critical. They must, however, start to look beyond the horizon of material satisfaction as their responsibility. We each have a spirit within us. Whether it survives death we do not know. Suffice it to make life worthwhile, to enable the here-on-earth to be fulfilled. Achieving that requires a whole new education of what works for us.
It is inevitably found in the paradox of what works for others and not of what works for us. Security and prosperity depend on our understanding that, and living it.
When we have grasped it we see the Tree on the other side of the Field. Quite clearly.