Sunday, November 09, 2008

Seeing the Forest for the Trees

It does seem as though the pace of change is quickening in all aspects of human life. Unfortunately this rapid change is taking a huge toll on many individuals. The world's existing financial systems are failing on an almost daily basis. Who would have thought UBS, the largest private Swiss bank, would fail along with ING, the largest Dutch bank, and most of the largest banks in the U.S.?

These major events are not merely the stuff of wealthy person's conversations in tall buildings. Millions of people all over the world are losing their primary source of income and any savings they may have accrued, almost overnight. Those who still have jobs are being asked to take more unpaid time-off, and can expect no significant raises in pay, while everyone's basic living costs go up and up.

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Crime and likely even warfare, will increase as some people get just that desperate. Europe and Asia descended into warfare the last time the world's economy soured this much. There are regional wars even now but those too will escalate outside current boundaries.

People want solutions but they also just want things. In fact if most people stopped desiring so many things the economic situation would get even worse. We have built much of our world on acts of almost pointless consumption. Now this crisis forces us to stop consuming everything except the basic necessities.

It becomes difficult to sit in quiet contemplation when you are not certain about how much longer you will have a roof over your head. This mental turbulence is shared by people in all strata of society, though the deprivations each person suffers may differ.

I offer no solutions but I do know that everything seeks balance, a return to the mean, if you will. Giant societies, small villages, fields and forests share many aspects though you may need to slow down to learn the similarities.

I am sometimes drawn to prose and lyrical answers when my head stops working properly. Here is one song that offers a little insight into the present human condition:

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Trees by Rush

There is unrest in the forest,
There is trouble with the trees,
For the maples want more sunlight
And the oaks ignore their pleas.

The trouble with the maples,
(And they're quite convinced they're right)
They say the oaks are just too lofty
And they grab up all the light.
But the oaks can't help their feelings
If they like the way they're made.
And they wonder why the maples
Can't be happy in their shade.

There is trouble in the forest,
And the creatures all have fled,
As the maples scream "Oppression!"
And the oaks just shake their heads

So the maples formed a union
And demanded equal rights.
"The oaks are just too greedy;
We will make them give us light."
Now there's no more oak oppression,
For they passed a noble law,
And the trees are all kept equal
By hatchet, axe, and saw.