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Where did we go wrong?

by Abhishek Thakore, Founder, Blue Ribbon Movement, Mumbai, India
Long ago, at the dawn of the industrial revolution, we were told that freedom was round the corner. In a few decades, the number of hours we need to work will drastically reduce. Everyone will have food, clothing and shelter. We’ll be living in a beautiful world.
By the time we reached our youth, life seemed different. The world wasn’t anymore a place of abundance but of scarcity. The ‘loot’ of resources wasn’t shared around but continues relentlessly. Tech cowboys are going around inventing technology that will replace humans on one end. And on the other, our aspirations are actively being shaped by advertising that gets better at targeting us.
We as a generation are expected to have longer life spans. We’re starting out our lives with student debt, expected to go into housing debt right thereafter. Large corporations enjoying subsidies become places of safety – starting up is extremely difficult except for the most determined. And there too, failures abound.
So here we are. Doomed to work for still longer hours in jobs we don’t love – doing things that, often we know, are bad for the planet. Left to compete for an ever-reducing supply of jobs (which may get replaced very soon), life doesn’t look too exciting for a millennial today.
Where did we go wrong? Where is the world that was promised to us? What did you, the grown-ups do all this while? And what are you going to do now to give us a fair chance at realising our potential?
I think the answers may lie at very unconventional places. Alongside global agencies trying to discover answers may be tiny far-flung communities who are creatively responding to the challenges. By the side of technological advances, there is also traditional wisdom waiting to be explored. As we provide large scale funding, we may want to explore alternative ways of generating capital too.
Here are some thoughts and questions:
  • Are we shaping our aspirations for our needs or our greeds? Can a greed based economy ever satiate? Where is the line between aspiration and unreasonable desires flamed by us?
  • How does production by masses look like in today’s day and age? What happens if we bring some patents into the commons – those which are protected for small scale use only? How do we enable the rise of the self-employed professional?
  • Can we recognize many forms of capital, not only financial? Can we help young people develop social capital, cultural capital, subtle (spiritual) capital? Can these act as raw materials for these ventures too?
  • Isn’t this an opportunity to reclaim the family? That institution that nurtures us as children can also extend its support for much longer, can it not? Can we use this crisis as an opportunity to connect more deeply with the oldies, absorb their wisdom and gladly recieve their support too?
As any generation, the onus of realising our potential lies on us. But every generation also has expectations from the previous ones and responsibility to the next one. If we are to leave a vibrant, thriving and abundant world for our next generation, we can use all the support you can extend to us!
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