Solstice is the point in time when the sun on reaching the extremity of its cycle, becomes still before beginning the next cycle of earth’s seasons. Solstices are about change, uncertainty and transition from one season to the next. In earlier periods the advent of each solar solstice was the cause of much apprehension as people were dismayed by the possible end of light and perhaps existence. The transitions that are being experienced in the world today can be compared to such natural solstices. Significantly, society struggles with phenomenal transformations – technological advancement, record employment redundancies and an ageing population, whose numbers exceed any period before in history.
Never before has there been such a need for sober reflection, for deep introspection and connection with the natural rhythms of life. Yet, little value is placed on calm, thoughtful reflection – stillness. Stillness is considered wasteful, boredom a major affliction and transitions considered unnecessary. One must be busy and prolific to be successful as an individual or in a profession. Those who reflect, are relegated to obscure eccentricity because the people who have real influence are those who generate more ideas and innovative concepts – no matter their basis or benefit. The one who can catch the next trend is the one who is honoured and heard.
The transition from production to information is supposed to be the harbinger of the greatest advances in the history of progress. Instead, it has the potential to create one of the darker periods of human development as people retrench and become fearful of this present solstice of human transition. Local wisdom is dismissed for the expertise of those who promise magic formulae or those who support romanticised concepts of previous eras. There is a proliferation of consultancies, each trying to capture some semblance of this growing market for expert advice. There are increasing numbers of ‘Gurus’ pontificating knowledge and expertise that, supposedly, is beyond the scope of more common folks. There are growing numbers of ‘think tanks’ whose basic aim, too often, is to tap some of the wealth that they perceive is available. And, of course, there are those advocates of the Internet, the information superhighway, and presumably the ultimate technology, which will change all aspects of human interaction and eliminate most needs for personal contact.
One of the remnants of the industrial age is a society based on production and productivity. People are pushed to create new wealth, generate new processes, or establish new research projects. The measures of production are so entrenched as to be considered the only way to measure progress. In order for prosperity to flow to the disadvantaged there must be expansion and growth. In other words, those with wealth must have more in order for those without to have any. Such is the dilemma of our present society despite a larger scope of wealth and production than has ever existed.
Those experiencing dramatic changes attempt to recreate the world as they would have liked it to be. For example, in Eastern Europe people are gravitating back to supporting the communists who promise them all the benefits that they couldn’t produce in seventy five years immediately upon regaining power. In fishing communities, under great threat, partially because of the misuse of technology, people envision better lifestyles and sustainability if only they were the managers of their own resources. This, despite current knowledge of local destructive fishing practices that are pursued in order for individual survival. Deep soul searching and reflection would alleviate some of the ensuing dilemmas because people know that such simplistic solutions are not the answers. But, they convince themselves of such resolutions to avoid the real changes required.
But, what is missed in all this new age thinking are the ancient but fundamental needs of all humans – physical, emotional and spiritual. The basics of sustenance and shelter won’t even be available if there is no mechanism for people to participate in the distribution of the created wealth. The only real value of fish is in the protein it can provide not the artificial wealth that is supposedly being parlayed to ‘investors’.
There are numerous issues that would benefit from still, silent, reflection. How advanced and brilliant can a society be that produces more food than can be consumed yet, can’t or won’t devise distribution mechanisms to ensure that enough can reach those who still starve. How wise is the society that constantly dumps major food resources whether it be agriculture products, fish or other commodities? How caring or sustainable is a society which allows less than ten percent of its population to control in excess of eighty percent of its perceived wealth?
The real challenge for society is no different today than throughout history. It is necessary to create a moral basis for caring and sharing that allows all to participate in the limitless resources that are our common inheritance. There apparently is universal agreement of what constitutes wealth, while the capacity to agree on an accepted moral foundation is considered beyond our abilities. This is considered much too complex in today’s world.
Historically however, societies, even our own, that have been progressive and made the most advances have had an agreed upon moral foundation. The prerequisite, of course, is to move beyond a fundamental concept of scarcity and a belief in limits to human capacity and universal wealth. Such limits have been the traditional devices contrived to control human behaviour.
The social challenge is to address the growing dependency culture on government programs whose design may be likened to the begging bowls of other cultures in other generations. The real difference is in the magnitude of those that have been given bowls (the only variant being size) which now include the wealthy and business as well as those that are disadvantaged. The real imperative is to convert these begging bowls into mixing bowls in order to create recipes for increased physical and spiritual nourishment for all.
These issues and others substantiate the need for deep, quiet thought and considerable reflection – a discerning of the solstices of human existence. As individuals and as a society we experience such periods because of our interconnectivity. During these solstices, more than at any other time, each and all must take the time to reflect, to contemplate and to appreciate the resources that are available, the advances that have been accomplished and the inequities that these advancements have generated.
Moving beyond current mindsets and rigid beliefs will require the development of different perspectives. It will require an acceptance that although, there is little that we can change in ourselves and in the world, we can change perspective on what has value, worth and importance. In turn, our view on our relationships and our interactions will also change and thus their resultant social and economic concepts. Such concepts are but perceptions at best, delusions at worst. What must be realised is that life’s transitions are but natural solstices, which eventually pass, and which each individual experiences a number of times in life’s journey.
Such transitions are less traumatic in truly developed societies who are willing to share and support. Changing perspectives like changing attitudes is a difficult process fraught with the anguish and pain of acceptance – of ourselves and our mortality. It requires understanding that attempting to avoid life only ensures that we avoid living with all its mystery, intrigue and uncertainty. Obviously, the process in our so-called more rational and developed society, entails people achieving a closer union between their heads and their hearts – trading some of this generation’s arrogance of reason for the humility of compassion.