Whose cake is it anyway?
I read somewhere that it’s natural to feel daunted by this crisis right about now. I don’t know where this bit of wisdom originated but the picture painted of a three stage process is a convincing one – shock and bewilderment, followed by a surge of creativity and productivity, and then (now) feeling tiny and helpless every time your eyes lift from a task to be confronted by this towering, dark, tidal wave of uncertainty. Maybe stage four is where we stop trying to do this alone.
At work, we’ve been a tight little team of four, a quarter of our usual strength, holed up in a building kitted out for customers that no longer come. Never have tables and chairs looked so forlorn – wallflowers bereft of suitors, cruelly stripped of purpose. I know how they feel. Right now I’m not even sure I can summon the will to finish this paragraph – you might never even have to read this.
My wife will tell you I’m prone to explosive expressions of giving in. It’s not a pretty trait and somewhat toxic, I imagine, if you’re within range when I pull the “I’m done with this” trigger and spit the vitriol. For those caught in the crossfire it’s either traumatising or hilariously absurd, maybe both. Either way I’m aware it’s not a good look. On the other hand I cling on to wild optimism – a tiny spark lights and I see a raging fire. Sometimes I even see a different world, you know the one, the one even those like me, stepping into the twilight, still occasionally glimpse. The one not driven by money, materialism and madness.The one that is humble before nature.
The invisible hand isn’t going to pull us out of this. The efficacy of the free market is the most expensive conceit in the history of humanity. If it were only that simple. When the virus came along the host wasn’t in a position to put up much of a fight, resistance was low, humanity a body at war with itself, fussing and fighting whilst the thief walked in through an open door.
As others have pointed out, it appears that a few decades back somebody started stealing our imagination – our collective capacity to envisage a changed world seems to have diminished. The perpetrators don’t need banging up though, they need rehabilitation. The gravitational pull of centralisation, homogeneity are sucking the life out of community and family. The money myth and our education is squeezed dry of creativity. This is the epidemic of cynicism. It won’t be long before we’re admonished to live within our means. No matter how meagre for many, propagated from positions of plenty, this will be presented as dry logic.
Even if you look at it that way – and the cake is going to be smaller – it’s still a huge cake. It’s still plenty big enough to provide everyone with the nourishment they need. It’s about how we slice it. I’m guessing that when we have friends and family around, most of us cut it equally because that’s what’s in our hearts, we portion it with love. If we choose we can dish the collective cake that way too. Isn’t that what we really want? After all, we make it together. It’s our cake not “theirs”.