It won’t change your day or inspire any great innovation. What this article will do is bring you closer to Ireland (if that is your thing). Ireland of old and Ireland of new. It also points to the markedly antibiosis relationship between economics and humanity. In poverty we suffer, as Ireland suffered, in wealth we suffer, as Ireland is suffering once more. Life is tough, I guess, and so is a hike to the top of Croagh Patrick. For me, I would much rather suffer a bare footed hike to the top of Croagh Patrick than to trail around the maze that is Ikea. At least the children are smiling and you are rewarded with a picture of Clew Bay, Co Mayo.
I remarked that when I left England (February of this year – 2009) that a dark cloud had set over the country (It was also the end of a long winter, so that mood may have dispelled). It was more than the financial crisis. People, in general seemed fed-up. The Ikea culture was burning out. Working hard all week to spend your weekend fighting for the latest line of Ikea furniture just didn’t seem fun anymore. I think individuals, families and communities are looking for more. I don’t know exactly what that more is, but the financial crisis may afford us some time to think about it. For some it will be our families, friends and loved ones. For others, it might be setting an impossible target like climbing a mountain or simply exploring our creative talents. A weekend of painting or making jewelry to sell at the local market. I have seen several people do just that over the last month. “I am dropping everything to … be an actress”, “… make designer jewelry”, “… progress a series of healing courses”. Are these the seeds of a fightback?
We might one day look back at this particular recession as a renaissance in human thinking and development. An awakening to self and a mass rejection of the concrete mall. Don’t get me wrong. We all like new things. I certainly do. Right now, I would love to buy a new iPhone and a nice convertible for Kristen and me. But it’s not everything. Perhaps then it is our priorities that are changing. We won’t give up our Saturday afternoon quite so easily. We will opt to support our children on the local cricket field before fighting for a car parking place at the super-centre. We will opt to pick up the paintbrush before being sold on a new credit deal.
If the renaissance really does come to be, then it will mark an even more significant change. The magic ingredient is the web. It allows a return to the cottage industry. We no longer need the factory or the corporation to provide us with the means of production. We can distribute at zero-cost. We no longer need the factory or the corporation to provide us with know-how and inspiration. See facebook and twitter. We are inspired and are learning from others at a pace never before seen. We no longer need the factory or the corporation to provide us with a sense of place. We have our locality, neighbours, friends and family.
The corporation has though served us well. We have got wealthy. Our quality of life and overall health has improved. But Rome did fall, and health and wealth is only two legs of a three-legged stool. The cottage industry could well return with the third leg .Communities will once again take precedence, and we might live in a more sustainable form. There is evidence. Football clubs wholly owned by the very fans they seek to entertain. Socially conscious and community owned banks. Individuals setting ever greater challenges for charity. Self-sustaining homes. Not to mention all those actors and acrtresses, artists, jewelry makers, healers, and writers we have mentioned.
The tough question is this – What will you do?
I read something somewhere. It was a study of our oft cited celebrities, saints, millionaires, rock stars and global leaders. They all share a common trait. They are doing what they are good at and they are doing what they love. With this in mind, try writing two lists. The first list, everything you are good at. The second, everything you love. Draw lines between the two and you might find that most important intersection. A sign-post to the mount of Crough Patrick perhaps. And, like the hike to the top of the hill it will be tough, but at least we no longer need to travel bare-footed, we have one shoe called health and the other called wealth, and we will also get to see a few smiles along the way.