Everywhere you look, you can see that the world is in chaos. The most obvious example of this is the emergence of the Corona Virus. This virus has created untold chaos from ill health, loss of employment, the destruction of relationships to fear and uncertainty about the future. Covid-19 has unsettled the world’s population and reinforced the power of nature. As much as we like to believe we are the superior beings on this planet, we are still unable to control physics and the greater power of the natural order.
Fear of uncertainty
The Corona Virus has reminded us that there is a lot of uncertainty in the world. Uncertainty is one of the major causes of anxiety and depression and we have been receiving large doses lately. The world is in chaos and many individuals don’t have the coping skills to manage the added strain. Every client that I have seen over recent months, without exception has been affected negatively by the Corona Virus.
A natural disaster, a terminal diagnosis, a wayward son, an unexpected layoff… each of those come to mind as examples.
Some clients have lost their jobs and their sense of purpose. Others have lost their jobs and are struggling to make ends meet – going on benefits for the first time.
Couples are arguing and disagreeing about appropriate safety levels in their home and outside to keep themselves safe from the virus.
My own relationship has been under strain and nerves are frayed, tolerance and patience is low.
Just today, I noticed how irritable many people are, from other drivers on the road to shopkeepers. People are fed up and there seems to be no end in sight at present despite the hope of a vaccine being rolled out.
The corona virus has added another layer of stress to a world that is already straining under the weight of problems such as corruption, cruelty, greed and self-serving behaviour. We are actually hard-wired to collaborate and work together but the world has been structured in such a way (possibly through capitalism and other influences) that it encourages self-serving behaviour. There is a perception that there is a lack of resources and we need to fight for what is left. I believe capitalism has a lot to answer for when you consider how so many have so little and so few have far too much. This format creates an unequal society, hence the self-serving behaviour.
However. there seems little reason to assume that traits such as racism, warfare and male domination should have been selected by evolution – as they would have been of little benefit to us. Individuals who behaved selfishly and ruthlessly would be less likely to survive, since they would have been ostracised from their groups.
Young people resisting becoming adults
Too much responsibility awaits our youth. They see the debt they will be saddled with, their parents struggling and the growing competition for jobs and places in university. Many of my young clients tell me that they don’t want to be responsible and end up in a miserable job, paying taxes and being miserable”. It’s a negative prediction but it’s very common. That may be partly why so many young individuals hide, playing games online in their bedrooms. That seems far more appealing and in some ways, I don’t blame them.
Democracy, politics and corruption
Donald Trump is another force for chaos and confusion. He incites hatred for opposing groups and seems to support immoral behaviours. He appears to be happy to involve himself in shady deals and abuses his power to favour his own agenda. I don’t want to get all political but of course, it’s inevitable that the people who run countries across the world have a huge influence in the masses.
Trump’s presidential style and approach to global affairs and foreign policy has upended traditional norms and relationships on a geopolitical and economic front. Most notably, Trump’s decision to impose import tariffs on various trading partners and an ensuing trade war with China.
Unfortunately, it seems to be a pattern that those in power tend to abuse that power over time and lose their honest and admirable earlier ideals and ambitions. This bleak view of human nature is closely associated with the science writer Richard Dawkins, whose book The Selfish Gene became popular because it fitted so well with (and helped to justify) the competitive and individualistic ethos of late 20th-century societies.
Does power corrupt people or does it just bring to the fore the existing prejudice?
Power doesn’t corrupt; it heightens pre-existing ethical tendencies. This brings to mind another maxim, from Abraham Lincoln: “Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.
Why the world is in chaos
Technology and online connectivity have grown faster than the evolutionary process. We have all this technology at our fingertips without the wisdom to navigate correctly. Technological, social and economic revolutions happen today over two generations or even a single one. Neither human beings nor cultures have time for gradual adaptation. During previous transitions, the “human world system” had time to change and adapt in a “near to equilibrium” way and traditional Newtonian mechanical could be used to understand the transitions. But at the unprecedented speed of change we are seeing now, the system is put out of equilibrium, even very far from equilibrium and classical rules and views don’t apply anymore.
The world of commerce and especially finance, a historical human activity, has also accelerated in an unbelievable way. Trades that took weeks or even months on foot or on horseback or by ship just a few hundred years ago, happen today, in the world of finance, in High Frequency Trading. Now, stock market orders take place in 150 millionth of a second.
Protecting the environment
Numerous warnings abound on how we are ruining the planet at an alarming rate. Perhaps Covid-19 was a timely reminder. Thankfully, regular messages about the dangers of single-use plastic, global warming, how plastic is ruining the oceans, how so many animal species etc are becoming extinct have led to a younger generation (thanks in part to Great Thunberg) being far more environmentally friendly.
Ways to regain a semblance of calm:
We can still control what time we wake up in the morning.
We can still choose to get ready in the morning for the day ahead.
We can eat healthy. We can remain physically active.
We can make our bed in the morning, we can choose to reset our home in the evening.
We can choose what we watch and listen to, and we can control what time we turn off the television at night.
We can always control our attitude and our response to the people and events around us.
We can love our family.
We can choose kind words in conversations.
If you are a man or woman of faith, you can choose to rely upon it during this time.
We can still decide to make the most of each day in front of us.
Controlling what you can might not seem like much, but it’s something.
Actually, it’s a lot more than something. It is an essential strategy for each of us going forward.
It is the first step in moving from a reactive life to a proactive one. And it is the first step in making the most of our current circumstances.
So, focus your energy there, even if it seems like very little. When the world is in chaos, control what you can.
Stay healthy, stay well, and stay focused. We’ll get through this together.