July, 2006

It's That Whole Yin Yang Thing

Rock stars are becoming businessmen.  Businessmen are becoming rock stars.  This is the generational dynamics we are now guided by.  I am not opposed to it.  I think that vocational flexibility will define the economy of this century.

The basis of what we understand to be age-old concepts- home, family, school, education, job, learning, marriage, lover, and success, religion, and God- is changing rapidly.  The lines are becoming more blurred.  The concepts more vague and blended- often thinner.

The challenge for this generation will rely heavily on the individual to sift through the wreckage…to navigate through the maze and find the cheese.  Little evidence remains of the existence of the societal herd, to guide and protect.  Sure, there are still many conventions we can still align ourselves to.  But their signifance, while not always disappearing, is almost certainly changing.

When people refer to the level of advancement made by generations, the characteristic they inevitably use to differentiate past from present is pace.  The world, it seems, is always moving faster, faster, faster.  Everything is much faster now than it was fifty years ago.  And surely, everything will be that much faster fifty years from now.

What then will still be slow?  What is slow?  Einstein said, “It is becoming increasingly apparent that our technology is surpassing our humanity”.  I believe his statement, even at the time he said it, was stating the obvious.  Technology is fast.   And humanity is slow.  Cars, planes, food preparation, and the time between meetings will always be faster.  Wisdom, hope, compassion, and love is timeless.  That is why humanity is slow.  Technology is a pack of Molson Cool Shots designed to get you as drunk as possible in the most efficient and economical way.  Humanity is a bottle of wine, either opened for just the right occasion or possibly still cocooning in an earthen cellar.

But to call technology bad and humanity good, is boring, thoughtless, and most of all, lesson-less.  It is the wrong conclusion to draw.  Technology has changed our lives.  In many ways for the better.  People have the potential to do a lot of things now with more ease than have ever done, and also have the possibility of opening time up for the things they never thought they could try.  The challenge of this generation…the challenge of sifting through the wreckage, or finding the cheese…will be to strike a balance between these two shifting currents.

Everything has changed.  There is no denying the element of cyborg-like conditioning or programming that has been added to our education.  The way that we now learn and develop our ideas and habits relies immensely on the way we engage and manipulate technology.  And so it in turns engages and manipulates us.  But humanity is also much the same way now.  In generations past, the growth and maturity of our human qualities was a given.  Our biggest mistake is take that growth for granted.  The environment now does not clearly foster these developments in individuals.  It is up to us to be actively engage and make time for our humanity.  This may appear to be a sad thing- but I believe that is simply evolution.  Unless we all want to make like Thoreau and live in Walden Pond, we are better off accepting the presence of technology in our lives today, and finding a way to live as humans alongside it.