By Edward Peters
New years and new decades are always an opportunity for review and re-evaluation of our personal and collective lives. We need (often painful) honesty before we can move towards resolutions to do better in the future.
The Times columnist, Clare Foges thinks the 2010s has been ‘the decade of increasing disconnection’. During the last ten years, she writes, “we have grown farther apart from each other, from nature, from shared experiences. … convenience, technology and austerity have conspired to inch us away from some of the most satisfying parts of being human.”
She blames the ubiquitous smartphone for this trend. “Now is the time to come out from behind our technology, look each other in the face and truly connect.”
I found myself wondering what it would take for the 2020s to be ‘the decade of increasing reconnection’. Reducing our smartphone usage will probably help, but there has to be more than that.
The deeper disconnection that we need to look at is the disconnection that so many (most?) of us feel between our personal lives and the forces that are shaping the future of the planet. Our news diet (if we look beyond the latest celebrity dramas) offers relentless evidence of the impact of climate change, poverty and violence. Not knowing what we can really do about these mega-trends, it is all too tempting to circle our wagons and live lives disconnected from these challenges.
How then do we reconnect with these big issues, without being overwhelmed by them? Perhaps one way is through making another connection: the connection between our walk and our talk. We all have ideals and values that we cherish – but so often our actual behavior and actions do not conform to those values. Reconnecting the two could be a key to (as Clare Foges writes) “the most satisfying parts of being human”.
For ultimately it is the way that each of us lives, the choices we make, which establish the priceless connection between the ‘personal’ and the ‘global’. As we make this connection – and reconnect whenever it breaks – we discover the distinctive contribution we can make towards a safer, fairer, sustainable world.