By Christina Lavers

What would the world look like if instead of living our lives according to how we are told we ‘should’ be, we were all free to follow the deep callings of our hearts? Diehard capitalists would recoil at the thought and insist that civilization would come to a halt. But would everyone really stop working and choose to spend their days lounging around doing nothing? I don’t think so. We humans are curious, industrious creatures who are naturally driven by a passion to explore, learn and create. .

We currently live in a mad world that is based on fear, greed and scarcity. It is considered completely normal for people to spend the majority of their waking lives toiling in jobs they hate. Economic inequality has reached a point of staggering absurdity where many people slaving away in full-time jobs can barely even meet the basic survival needs of their families, while others lounge around on $200 million yachts and have ridiculously decadent luxury homes around the world.

The amount of human energy and resources that go into designing, making, promoting, and distributing cheap, useless products in this consumerist society is phenomenal. Then to add to the madness, these shoddy, chemically altered, often disposable items are quickly discarded as waste, increasing the huge amount of toxic pollution generated by this lifestyle. Then there are the ongoing unnecessary wars that have shameful costs at both a human and economic level. If we continue much farther down this road of outrageous consumption and disregard for the sanctity of life we will inevitably end up poisoning the planet and all its inhabitants, which of course includes us! If this isn’t the height of madness I don’t know what is!

Although most would agree that the existing system is unsustainable and far from ideal, those who dare to imagine a better world are often labelled dreamers and idealists, and ridiculed for suggesting that alternatives are possible. “It’s just the way things are. Make the best of it, ‘cause it’s never going to change.”

These are common responses, usually given by those who are relatively comfortable and have heavily invested in the current system.

Consumed by the onslaught of demands required to just stay afloat, so many of us are distracted away from our true power and potential.

However, when we consider the fact that we are all together on a tiny rock, swirling around in an inconceivably immense, mysterious universe, and that within the unconscious of each of us is a limitless realm of infinite possibilities and potential, the fact that we as a group accept these flimsy, illogical, destructive confinements to our reality would be hysterical, if it weren’t so tragic.

Why don’t we change?

Why do we collectively continue to support, maintain and even fight for a system that the majority of us are unhappy with? A significant part of the answer, I suspect, lies in the fact that though there is only a tiny faction of society that really benefits from the existing system, this minority have become masters of public deception and manipulation. By funding universities, political parties, critical think-tanks, interest groups, and by controlling Hollywood and the mainstream media, the global ‘elite’ (with their shared common interests) are able to influence and mobilise group-think in order to ensure that popular beliefs and assumptions are aligned with their aims. Their rhetoric permeates our reality like a hypnotic spell that has taken root deep in the collective psyche.

At the heart

Human nature has often been described by intellectuals throughout history as selfish, greedy and violent. Our basic drives are seen as animalistic and believed to require strong socialization and rigid social control in order to conquer these inherent urges. But what if this idea is just part of the propaganda used to justify a corrupt, oppressive system? Are people really selfish and violent at heart, and do we really need to be controlled to keep these qualities in check? I would argue that the answer is no.

There is no doubt that we have animalistic drives, but we have virtuous, noble motivations as well. If these altruistic qualities were allowed and encouraged to flourish they would naturally temper and balance, and even find positive expression, for our raw base desires. Most of us care about our fellow man and don’t want to cause harm. Recent studies have shown that toddlers and pre-schoolers are naturally inclined to want to cooperate with others, and assist people who are struggling or are in distress.

Unfortunately our school systems and popular culture tend to undermine our compassionate nature by promoting a competitive, stressful world view. This is justified because it is seen as necessary in order to prepare young people for entering a workforce that exhibits the same qualities. There is no doubt that self-preservation is a fundamental drive in humans, and that we are capable of committing atrocities when threatened. The society we exist in today is highly threatening at an underlying level. If our goal was to bring out the worst in humanity, I doubt we could have designed a more effective system. So many of us are wounded and operating from a space of fear and pain. It is no wonder the world is in such a miserable, desperate, dysfunctional state.

But it really doesn’t have to be this way. If we shifted our priorities from profit to people the world could look very different.

There are so many brilliant minds out there who, if given the opportunity, could contribute to devising a system that supported all humans. People have so many diverse skills and areas of interest.

If we were encouraged to follow our hearts and passions we might even discover an innate, organic natural order that eclipses the artificial one that has been imposed on humanity.

If technology as well was geared to helping people, rather than making a select few rich, we could easily create a healthy, vibrant environment in which we could all thrive.

As much as some of us would wish it was the case, the world is not going to just magically change overnight. While some might be waiting for something to come to our rescue, I believe that it is up to us to create the change we want to see. Right now we are collectively marching down a road of madness that is leading to our doom. It is imperative that we change course. But if the conviction that change is undesirable, frightening, or impossible continues to stand like a fortress at the heart of our belief system, we will continue down this road as prisoners of its confining construct.

The first step that is needed to alter our trajectory is to break the spell of apathy that convinces us that this system is good enough, that sweeping change is just not possible, or is too hard or frightening to seriously contemplate.

As more of us wake up and realise that we have the means and the power to create a world in which we can all flourish, we will increasingly see cracks appearing in the framework as the old paradigm unravels. Eventually when enough of us dismantle the fortress of ideas within and open to a wider, more heartfelt version of reality we will see possibilities and opportunities for change that were previously obscured from us.

So let’s allow ourselves and each other to expand and dream and explore so that we can burst out beyond this shallow, limiting reality and discover what we are truly capable of.