As I type this in my office, I’m listening to classic 1980s tracks by George Thorogood and The Destroyers. That’s not so unusual I guess in this era of Spotify, Apple Music, Tidal and other streaming services where we can listen to whatever we want whenever we want. But every 20 or 30 minutes I have to get and turn the record over. Returning to the world of vinyl records has not only taken me on a journey into history but it offers a much richer way of listening and really enjoying music.
I’ve been thinking a lot about rituals. Not in the Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom sense but in terms of things we do in order to maintain order, celebrate milestones and prepare ourselves for everyday events. Some of this was prompted after reading an article about “The 21 Minute Entrepreneur” by R Conan. But it’s something that’s been festering in my mind since the COVID-19 pandemic took hold.
I recently participated in a meeting. But this wasn’t your regular “I wish I was anywhere else” kind of meeting. It was a gathering of over 50 people from across the world convened by author and academic Chris Kutarna. This gathering was around a metaphorical campfire where we looked into the question of “What’s the difference between ‘us’ and ‘them’?”.
Working from home is the new cubicle farm. Businesses will embrace it for the same reasons they embraced cubicles. It looks like a way to foster better culture but is really about saving money. Working from home is a lot cheaper than corporate real estate and office fit outs. But there is a way to avoid the mistakes of the past.
Social distancing. It’s a horrible term that conjures up feelings of isolation and loneliness. I much prefer the term ‘physical distancing’ which is about our physical proximity but not a separation of spirit or fellowship.
It’s easy during this time of pandemic to see what we’ve lost. Children miss playing with their friends at school. Adults miss the water-cooler banter at work. We miss seeing different faces up close. We miss the hugs and kisses of family members. Birthday parties. The gym. Going to the movies. Restaurants. Weddings. Even funerals. The list of what we have lost over the last few months is long.
The COVD-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc across the globe. For many countries, there is not a single activity that we took for granted that hasn’t been changed – perhaps permanently. But one of the features of western society is the political obsession with ‘the economy’. The problem is, politicians have trained us to be so focussed on the health of the economy that we’re missing its true purpose. It’s not society’s role to support the economy. The economy needs to serve society. And the pandemic is a once in a generation opportunity to correct that imbalance.
The CoVID-19 pandemic has put a halt on a lot of activities. Understandably, many of us are feeling shut in and frustrated that many of the things we take for granted are no longer allowable. But some advice from my accountant has resonated and I think it has broader application than financial matters. We have a unique opportunity in front of us.
It’s been a while since I simply sat down and decided to write something just because. There’s no commission, no invoice to send or payment to chase. I just want to write. Over the last month, the world has changed significantly. Even in war time, there’s a period where the rivals push and shove over some imaginary line on the ground or argue about access to a precious resource. But the coronavirus pandemic has changed things. in ways that, in some ways that are far more personally extreme than war.
And it’s happened faster than many us can really comprehend.
History has a habit of repeating itself. Or, perhaps more accurately, revolving in cycles. Which is writer and philosopher George Santayana was motivated to say the saying “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”.
Over the last decade or so, there’s been a marked shift in western politics. And while it’s easy to assign the blame for this shift in behaviour on the politicians it’s really pandering to what they have seen in society. By tapping into the politics of fear and self-interest, political parties in many democracies have been able to gain and retain power. And they are taking advantage of a broken world to further fracture and divide in an almost Orwellian way.