"The outburst of tragedies in the last decade will remain in our memories for many years to come. The tirade of shocking news was coming from every direction. Wars and terrorism, environmental disasters, and the economic meltdown that resulted in unprecedented unemployment rates and market crashes across the globe were traumatic experiences that left us with scars we will carry for the rest of our lives. In addition to all these grim realities, the ominous predictions about the 2012 doomsday were contributing to the belief that we were moving closer to our end as a human race.
While the painful events of the last decade were shocking to the majority of us, some viewed them as unusual phenomena—the result of wrongdoing by a few, or even flukes. But they were a direct result of preceding events that were ignored in the course of decades, as they are being ignored today. Whether we believe that there is a scientific reason behind every occurrence or that there are other elements beyond the laws of physics, events don't happen at random—something initiates them. In all the belief systems—whether traditional religion, New Wave spirituality, or pure laws of physics—there must be an action that triggers a reaction. To grow anything, we need to sow its seed and provide a suitable growing environment, and to stop anything from growing, we need to weaken the conditions that contribute to its growth.
Everything in this world is a successor to a predecessor, and the only way to avoid a successor is by avoiding its predecessor. But what were the predecessors of all the calamities and the anguish that followed them? Were they the result of incorrect decisions and miscalculations by our leaders, or were they prompted by a set of elements beyond everyone's control? The truth is that one single event or action can never entirely and by itself be the cause of social, economic, or political turmoil. It takes a combination of factors: favorable conditions, time, and those who initiate the process, most of which are in people's control. The grim experiences of the last decade were the result of seeds that a few saw, and we all welcomed and nurtured them, either directly and intentionally or indirectly and tacitly, until they grew beyond our control.
Today, even though we hover somewhere between the days when the hurt was fresh and the hope that it will never happen again in the future, the elements that caused the turmoil are still present in our world and still affecting our lives. Yet we try to use the same instruments to solve them that were partially responsible for their creation in the first place.
Century-old approaches like reducing interest rates or providing tax breaks for the wealthy, based on the belief that these actions can increase investments and create jobs, may have been brilliant economic solutions in the old days, but they are not working anymore. Tax breaks don't necessary channel money into investments, simply because not every high-tax-bracket individual is an investor by default. And in the days when low interest rates were encouraging investments and creating jobs, foreign investments were not as common as they are today, and most of the investments were in manufacturing rather than in speculative markets that do not require any workforce.
Throughout human history, every society occasionally has found itself in a place that did not seem to be the right place. And the members of that society wondered how they got there and how could they rescue themselves and get to the place that feels right, a place where they could live without fears and anxieties about tomorrow. In all those cases, the societies that were courageous enough to choose a new path or improve their course survived and even experienced the bliss of prosperity. They claimed ownership of their destiny and chose a path based on their wisdom and not their inherited beliefs and fears.
Today we are once again in that place in our history. We are divided into factions of those who are fearful of change, those who feel there is nothing they can do, and those who believe we are where we are because we chose to be here. The fact that in the last two decades every political campaign has promised new changes proves that we, as members of our society, do not believe that we are on the right path and are all looking for a change. The incessant news about environmental disasters and social, economic, and political turmoil, and the increase in their frequency and magnitudes, leaves no room for denial or doubt that we are heading toward even more apocalyptic times and we need to alter our path.
If you were to save the headlines from your favorite news website and compare them to the headlines from the next day, and the day after that, they would all have the same ingredients:
Ã‚· a country on the verge of bankruptcy
Ã‚· financial troubles in one of the major markets
Ã‚· a natural disaster somewhere
Ã‚· two countries at the brink of a major war
Ã‚· atrocities that paint the color of disgrace on the face of humanity for eternity
These are the ingredients of the headlines every day—you just need to change the earthquake magnitude, the name of the country that is waiting to go bankrupt, and the location of the atrocity, and you will have the news for the next day.
Today, unpredictable weather patterns, extreme climate changes, and climate disasters that are costing us more than what we have gained on "cheap and plentiful" energy are indicative of another era of grim reality. The extreme winters, whether unusually warm or extremely cold, are proof of the imbalance in our natural environment. In recent winters we have seen paralyzing snowstorms in southern parts of the United States, like Texas, Mississippi, and Georgia. But in Vancouver, Canada, there wasn't enough natural snow to start the Winter Olympics in February 2010, and in 2009 the world's oceans had the warmest summer temperatures on record.
Financial greed and its consequences—prevailing distrust and social and political disparity—have brought down our economic structures to the point that no matter how much we try to "stimulate" them, their gears are still not moving. Occasionally we may see small bursts of improvement, but they will not last for long, because the conditions and the elements that caused them are still present in our society.
In our politics, contrary to common belief, we do not have many of the "right wingers" or the "left wingers" anymore. The majority fall into the category of so-called "swing voters." The other name for them is "disappointed voters"—the voters whose living conditions are deteriorating, whether financially or emotionally, until they resemble the person who takes a different type of painkiller to no avail every five minutes. In every election, the swing voters are a large portion of voters, because the majority of people do not see a panacea in any of the traditional political camps. The distrust and disappointment in our old social and economic apparatus is evident from voters' frequent swing from one end of the political spectrum to the other end.
All of this proves one fact: the old solutions are not working anymore. Nobody wants to admit that, because either they do not have anything new to offer or it is not easy for them to let go of the old ways. Today our solutions to domestic problems continue to perpetuate those problems, and our efforts to spread peace around the world end up in fierce wars. All the elements and parameters that once used to define the matrix of our everyday life, from environmental and ecological stability to economic and political beliefs, seem to be out of balance, and there is only one reason: we are off track as individuals and consequently as a society. We are feeling the bumps on the road more frequently, and that should tell us that we are on