What the COVID-19 crisis reveals (2/5)

The COVID-19 crisis has created the perfect storm. With it, most of our societies have waken up. We are finally seeing the transformations, which took place when we were half-asleep while leading our lives in semi-automatic mode.

Now, less and less blind, it is time to pave the way for a more ambitious humanity, which would prepare a better future for the next generations!

But, wait, what’s still holding us back?

Greater concentration of capital

The trend observed by Piketty, in his book Le Capital, has been strengthening during this COVID-19 crisis, with wealth being even more in the hands of a few. Many seem to agree that we need more protectionism to avoid a greater concentration of capital in a globalised world. In fact, the shift to the welfare economy would be a way to save our peace and not just the planet, and many conservative and liberal circles are beginning to understand that the model is broken. Capitalism, at least, needs to be “reformed”.

We also saw that people are more and more convinced that the promise of perpetual growth is not sustainable. There is a need for a systemic approach to promote circular practices that address financial, institutional, social, and technical issues. In fact, circularity must become the essence of any economic development and management of daily city life, promoting the use of the doughnut economic model, for instance.

Negative drivers of our times

In this section, the purpose is to identify some of the negative drivers of our economic model. Note that they are not wrong; they are simply no longer adapted. I call them “obsolete principles of a post-industrial society”. They constitute some illusions that prevent us from living the dream. Because with them, each of us continues to wake up harming ourselves, others, and/or the planet. Remember as we speak, we continue to use three times more resources than the planet produces.

Busy-nessAlmost the norm. Yet, it does not make anyone happy or successful. In fact, it has almost become a posture. Even if there is no value produced, it’s “cool” to be busy. Linked to the “tick the box” mentality and the minimalist approach, this value led us to the distractions economy (another way to name the attention economy). As we know, there is no clear notice to deal with all these distractions although they continue to harm.
EfficiencyA motto we find everywhere. Yet, it damages both people and the planet. Every time I hear the word, I wonder how quickly we are going to hit the wall? I link it to our bureaucratic expediency habit, a natural human instinct to look for quick fixes. Note that this is something, which becomes especially strong in times of crisis. We want to help and show our worth, but we mainly react in a semi-automatic mode led by our reptilian brain.
Target settingTargets continue to drive most global actions. Yet this habit fosters competition and unproductive behaviours. So, it reinforces mass individualisation instead of globalisation.
Linear thinkingIn a VUCA world, this thinking mode is way too simplistic and as a result, has limited results. Most of all, we see the harm on issues such as plastics, migration, climate crisis or this COVID-19 crisis. In fact, we are only amplifying the problems with the smallest decision. No, it would be wiser to stop thinking at all than to think in a linear fashion.
OwnershipOnly co-ownership exists in nature and for a good reason. The system is interdependent, which means that one weak dot makes the whole system weak. But we continue to hold on to our own little territory as if this was the key for greater strength. No, in fact, that’s the opposite. You only increase your fear of letting go, and you resist the natural flow of energy. It’s what we call “a lose-lose” approach.
Artificial positivityPositivity, added to disconnection and denial, becomes totally superficial. Thus it deprives of authentic connections and the amazing gift to feel useful, in a sincere human way. But the market of toxic positivity is big, in spite of the harm on human psychology.
Followership & ObedienceThese are common habits that reveal a form of avoidance and groupthink. Bias, apriorism, assumptions, and other individual and collective beliefs create a dangerous filter. It’s important to educate people about them. Because what was once considered respectful will not be necessarily seen like this by the next generations.
The race for the new and fake innovationThis race makes us dream of new beginnings and run after progress (as another way of escape?). “New” does not equal “progress”. And there is often more value to seek in building on the “old”.
ChrematisticsThe art of money-making is an unnatural activity that results in a situation where eight individuals own more wealth than fifty percent of the world’s population.
The Dual lensPolarisation between good and bad gives rise to a blaming culture when it is not repressive. By focusing our attention on how wrong things are, most of us also lose our power to act. Hence, we usually blame those who take actions more than those who do nothing – Similar to watching politics like a spectator game. In a world like this, unfortunately, many feel unwelcome, especially unwelcome to act.
StabilityLet me be direct here, it is a totally unrealistic aim, as true stability like certainty does not exist. Hence, it is often what leads people to choose non-sense and rigidity, such as holding a very protective mode and closed mindset (against happiness?). No, the logic lies in finding essential balances.

More status quo, more chaos

I hope you are now convinced that these are negative drivers and outdated principles. In a way, by not challenging them more, we are teaching our children to reproduce them. We know they lead to harmful feelings and behaviours, but we continue to give these toxic gifts. Could it be worse? Yes, if we add pride on top.

When pursuing the status quo, we only amplify the chaos. And, sometimes, there is this feeling that doing nothing would be a better option. It is time to face the truth, and assess the real threats. We seem to navigate blindly from one crisis to another. So, my invitation for you today is to stop for a minute trying to solve any problem, and for a few more blog posts, continue to listen. It’s a bit too early to turn the page. We are criminals and need a good, slow trial.

Tomorrow, we will be looking together at some stories from our post-industrial era in order to challenge even more our illusions. There is still too much sand in our eyes. (But let’s be clear, there are solutions to all of this and we will have plenty of time to enjoy the solutions to the dream later on!)

To be continued… In the meantime, I invite you to watch this video on systems thinking with Stéphane Baillie-Gee.

Photo by David McBee on Pexels.com


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