When the Global Financial Crisis (GFC), often referred to as the Great Recession (GR) became established in 2008, the failure of key businesses globally began to reverberate around the world. Here in Australia our eternal optimism, based on our heritage of surviving always with a smile on our dial, kicked in. At the time in conversation with my family we talked about how inevitably the GFC or GR must finally have an impact here. While we like to isolate ourselves, believe that we are invincible and that a little belt tightening will always get us through, this time it seems to be very different. We need to be paying attention to what has happened in the U.S.A. with the housing bubble bursting and to what is happening in Europe, the United Kingdom, South America and the African and Asian continents.
Today we are a global society whether we like it or not, as the world in so many terms, shrinks.
The shrinking began once we all began traveling to see each other’s shores. It provided us with a look at how very different we were both culturally and in our ideas. Everywhere we went there was something exciting to see that was very different to what our own place and time had to offer. And it was both enticing and appealing.
From the early migrations of tribes during the Bronze Age right up until contemporary times, the shifting of peoples from one place where they were born, to another has been a continual aspect of our shared experiences that while often bad were also sometimes good. Modern migration is today a hot issue, globally.
With pollution of our fragile environment reaching incredible levels, taxing both world resources and nature, where do we look to for answers? Well we have to develop new conditions to establish a new way of thinking. We must also become more connected by using communication technologies in sophisticated and responsible ways.
Young people need to see themselves as a part of a responsible global community. Teaching children by using their cell phones as a tool is a trend savvy teachers are globally taking viral. Instead of viewing the phones as disruptive they have changed their attitude to see them as a constructive teaching tool. This is to be admired, rather than feared. In the main kids are light years ahead of their teachers for the first time in history, because they are so savvy with technology. Teachers are having to beef up their own professional growth so that they can develop new strategies to help them succeed at imparting knowledge. We need to help by reinventing ourselves and acquiring and honing our own attitudes big time.
From the early 70’s to 2003 with my interest in the arts and cultural development opportunities presented meant travelling widely. It was both an engaging and enriching time of my life, despite being frisked at airports, just missing an IRA bomb going off in a restaurant at London we were to have lunch in and the riots and earthquakes encountered along the way. It was disturbing in so many other ways yet also made me feel restless, yearning to be part of experiences very different to what we had at home.
Age and experience changed the desire as increasing violence, viewing and experiencing environmental destruction, while war and terrorism expanded and was programmed as reality television. It made the shared experience with friends lessen until finally we all found ourselves getting down and kissing the ground whenever we arrived home in Australia. Here we thought, we are safe, secure which is really what all human beings crave, along with love.
Fighting for what you want was part of the earthly experience for thousands of years. For men it was war that was the only option, and women were condemned to remaining at home. The two major World Wars in the 20th century ended that experience as men and women joined forces, with the boys in the field and the girls in the factories. After it was over they sought to boldly go where no human has gone before, while endeavouring to try and find peaceful solutions to the challenges we all face, but together.
The space race to the moon came and went, constantly inspired by the enmity of cold war allies. Although contributing much to world economies in terms of developing technology and new sciences, the extensive U.S. space program will be shelved in a few weeks from the American financial agenda.
It is my hope that President Obama knows what he is doing, because it will prove costly in many ways as his decision dampens down humankind’s spirit and desire to find new frontiers, just in case we wear out our welcome entirely on this planet.
Kick starting it again in the future will prove difficult as a great deal of ‘memory’ will be lost from those who have worked on the program from its early beginnings. Their invaluable experience won’t be passed down first hand to future generations and if the ban lasts for several generations it will mean that in America they will have to begin learning the lessons all over again.
There is a great deal of of truth in the notion that those who fail to learn from the past are indeed, condemned to repeat it.
In Australia this morning comes the news of another flight kind that Qantas, Australia’s flagship airline with its famous face of perfection to the world, has offered its 7000 cabin crew redundancy packages. We may be tempted to see this as they want us to see it, as ” reducing planned capacity growth ” while they endeavour to pay the new taxes now imposed by other airports around the world for carbon emissions.
It makes me remember my grandmother’s words, ‘there are no free rides’. By that she was always emphasizing the point that she constantly made to her children, grandchildren and their children, that what we put in is what we will receive. How we treat other human beings and how we treat the planet is all a matter of respect. Its also about displaying both integrity and grace, her bylines.
Empathy or apathy is a question we all need to ask. We have to find the road to reform. Innovation requires sound judgment and a great deal of trust between protagonists, allies or otherwise. We all have to accept both accountability and responsibility.
A story that hit Australian headlines this morning is perhaps a point in question. A 21 year old Swiss skateboard tourist it seems thought it was not only fun, but also an instant way to earn himself celebrity status by skateboarding through a tunnel clearly provided for fast transit traffic. He nearly caused countless accidents and the magistrate at the court where he was charged was reported as being alarmed that this young man really didn’t seem to care or show any sort of remorse at all for his actions. The words he uttered all seemed to be only platitudes.
The fact that he had caused a great deal of heartache, many near accidents and much distress was for him at least, not an issue. Here he was 21 years of age suspending reality because he was on holidays, which is all about having a good time in his mind albeit at the expense of others. If this young man is a normal product of contemporary parenting for the last twenty years then we are all really in very big trouble.
The infamous American, and for that matter Australian dreamtime is over.
Adults with experience and empathy who will take responsibility must provide children of this generation with the knowledge that it is only through tenacity and hard work the majority achieve success.
Universally human beings need food, shelter and education as basic requirements regardless of where they are born. We need a new design for life to unlock potential and stir the social conscience. The problems of the world are many and its both normal and challenging to try and know just where to start. But in the face of daunting social, economic and environmental change and its ensuing global paradigm shift, start we must.
The future lays in reinventing the framework through which we view and understand our world and a global society. Perhaps we need to promote images of failure so we can all take a long hard look at ourselves in order to bring about a revolution that will at least produce the basic human rights that everyone deserves. That way we can invent a future that enables and emboldens everyone, whatever their background, culture, race or creed, so that they can use their talents to help aid the cause of social justice.
Carolyn McDowall, June 2011