Orion On The World Is More Complex
Client: There is so much we cannot control in the world and I can feel overwhelmed.
In many ways the world has become much more complex and along with it, which is different than at an earlier time, people are more and more required to manage the complexity in their own lives. Not so long ago, one went to the bank and the bank handled things. There was one telephone company and you just paid the telephone bill. You didn’t have to think, 'What kind of telephone do I want? How many do I want?' You didn't need to do your banking on-line or on your phone and consider who has the best deal and least fees. One just went to the doctor. You didn’t have to know, 'Is this doctor qualified for my treatment?' There was simply the doctor, who might send you to another doctor, but very few people had any actual choice in that. Data about life came to your from the professionals – the bank, the doctor, the insurance company, the store where your purchased things, etc etc.
There is a challenge to today's life because there is an illusion that one should and can have all the data you need to manage the complexity and variety of today's many options and choices. Yet, the truth is, you always are sort of managing and coping and deciding without fully knowing. You pick one phone but there may be a better one. You don’t really know what those tiny little words in your credit card agreement mean, on and on. So in a way, everyone is a little bit like the child who is having to do something at the edge of their true capacity, and people are walking around waiting for it to blow up.
'Oops! I’ve pushed the button and now I’ve purchased a ticket and I didn’t want it. Uh-oh…' and so forth. All the vigilance required in modern life is having an effect on the cultural consciousness. People feeling overwhelmed by modern life is accurate. It is even more stressful and frustrating because 'full knowledge' simply does not exist. It is an illusion we don't acknowledge. Experts don’t have 'full' knowledge. No one does because there is so much knowledge and it continues to evolve. Knowledge is in movement.
Yet, people readily internalize the cultural 'judge' that you should know or in the very least, know how to get the knowledge – Google it, Wiki it, etc. To us, the only way to find balance is not to try to get all the knowledge but instead, to let go of the overarching model that you should have all the knowledge. You may hold, 'I should be highly accurate at all times, and I should know everything about what I’m doing.' But that is an actuality that cannot exist. We may get more or some information, we may find a 'work-around' but acknowledging we cannot know all, can lead us to the liberating idea of accepting what actually occurs and then moving on from that very place. 'Well, that happened, now what can I do?'
Actions will have consequences and not knowing may create its own problem, but on the whole, we feel the stress of holding this illusory model of competency is more problematic. Such competency is actually an outdated model. Once cannot be as competent as one might have been twenty years ago because the knowledge-base is much vaster. Yet, the cultural continues to hold individuals personally responsible. And individuals rightly say, 'How could I have known to do that?' The illusion of control and power hides the truth from ourselves, all the while, adding to the stress and anxiety of daily living.
There is a joke going around that tax code has so many pages in it that actually no one in Congress who have to vote on it, has ever read it. No one has ever read it completely, and no one can understand it completely. Of course, it wasn’t written by a person, it was written by many, many people writing on different aspects of it and at different times. So probably there is not one individual who could full comprehend every aspect of it. We can see that someone probably cannot recite the entire encyclopedia, but still we expect ourselves to have encyclopedic knowledge of every sort.
Again, the way to have more ease in this complex world is an acknowledgment of the truth of it. This world is very complex. We might make a mistake, and there may be no way you could have avoided the mistake, so simply, what do we do now?
In the past, life had a more narrow focus of detail and with it, a narrowed individual responsibility. You went to the bank, and you only went from certain hours and you could only do certain things, with less options and less available to the individual. No individual could apply for a loan by themselves at their computer. You’d fill out the papers, you would take them to a bank, and someone would look it over. You see, you wouldn’t be responsible for, 'Uh-oh, I pushed the wrong number in the wrong line.' You wouldn't be the person deciding on your own about a mortgage or a car loan, etc. etc. You were given that responsibility in the way you may now.
Client: What’s going to happen to poor old mankind in this complex world? We could grow into it…but…
We are growing into it, and the models will evolve change. Not only do we have to recognize the true complexity, we have to see how we have internalized the cultural judge of being wrong. It is wrong to make a mistake, wrong to feel stressed, wrong to need help - all of which are personal failures. And we feel this personalized guilt and responsibility is not just an internal, psychological dynamic but is being supported, if not created, by the external world as well
Today, business, organizations, government do not want to be held responsible to others or for their own actions. We call this a 'consciousness of disconnection' and It leads to ideas such as individual mortgage people being the major responsibility for the financial crisis, for people without jobs that are not available being held personally responsible for not having job and so forth. Realizing how the outer world impacts the inner world, can help you to 'unhook' yourself from accepting and following the model of uber-self-responsibility. And by at least questioning the model, you may not be not only less stressed etc, you add to the growing gestalt of the rejection of that very model. And hopefully, from that, a more accurate model can emerge.
As of now, a new model has not emerged because the old model of holding individuals responsible, continues to benefit many levels of society. Business, government, courts resist being held responsible and the law continues to leave and create loopholes to allow that. The culture has returned, in many ways, to an earlier time – one of buyer beware, PT Barnum and the like. Some of this is itself a reflection of the growing complexity that affects all. For instance, previously one would not issue a new product, say software, without extensive testing. But the company's 1000 people might not find every little glitch, but if 100,000 people are using your software, they’ll start giving you reports, and that’s how you’ll find your glitch that your 1000 people couldn’t. So the standard of a company needing to be 100% before a product is released begins to change and ideas of responsibility change as well.
Another way of holding individuals responsible is to ignore or deny the many variations in a model, such as the fact that an IQ test is written for a certain kind of cultural background and may not reflect the truth of someone not from that specific model.
In the end, though, your question shows recognition of the great flows of growth and development. The old phrase of one step forward, one step backward and perhaps a spin-around. All of which is to remind you that life is at times confusing, overwhelming, despairing, and difficulty as well as positive, emerging, evolving and so on. Allow the model that some things are bigger than you.
Before you take on personal responsibility for a challenge or judge your own inadequacy, ask 'Is that the whole truth?' Wonder if perhaps things just are more challenging. Again, considering that life is at a different pace and is more challenging, relieves stress and from that less stressful place you may find it easier to cope with things, carry less judgment and find it easier and just practical to ask for help or someone else's expertise, without guilt or a sense of lack.
Edited from a personal session with permission
Featured in Expansion - the Orion Wisdom newsletter Spring 2013