[A NOTE TO THE READER: I originally published this article two years ago. Considering the calendar and the circumstances, I am republishing it today with only minor edits.]
We are entering a world to which we’ve never been. As we’ve often observed, our world is constantly changing, sometimes for good and sometimes for bad. With the advent of the Internet, new technologies, cultural revisions, and all other active fields of human endeavor, that change is only accelerating. The old adage relentlessly remains true: the only constant is change.
Much of the change we have encountered has been immeasurably beneficial for humanity. On average, the human condition today is orders of magnitude improved from previous centuries. The opportunities afforded today in education, science, art, wellness, healthcare, communications, careers, and many other areas too numerous to mention are immensely better than in the past.
Of course, with these changes not every consequence has been positive. We have faced some negative consequences too. Lately, one prominent area that comes to mind is politics and people’s reactions to politics. Reflecting on the politics of the 2016 presidential election, Scott Canon and Dave Helling offer this sad summary (“Is It Over Yet? 2016 Campaign Reflects how Quickly, how Much Society Has Changed” The Kansas City Star, November 6, 2016, pp. 1A, 13A):
“The 2016 campaign made the quirks of our era more obvious. A variety of forces—online and otherwise—upend our commerce, our culture, our politics. They make our lives less private and more fractious in large part because of how they put grievance on display.” (p. 1A)
Historian Richard Rhodes opines:
“The world, at every level, is getting more transparent. . . . There are just almost no secrets anywhere.”
Regardless of your or my political persuasion, over the past few years all of us have been subjected to one of the most–let’s just say—“interesting” political landscapes of all time. It illustrates some of the consequences and trends of our technology and our humanity. Therefore, it also at a more fundamental level reminds us of how we are both its creators and its victims. With that said, here are three thoughts that might help us all:
You Are Always On Stage. Like it or not, the Internet has almost destroyed the concept of personal privacy. Never before have we been able to touch one another from around the globe the way we can today. Tragically, never before have we been able to harm one another from around the globe the way we can today. The positives in relationships are even more positive. The negatives in relationships are even more negative. It behooves all of us to live our lives in such a manner that anything and everything we say or do today could potentially be searchable in Google tomorrow. Therefore, let’s think through our words and our behaviors more carefully. Once it is captured in the cyber world, it is there forever. Then again, if we do in fact give such thought to what we say or do, isn’t that genuinely a very good outcome for everyone?
Not Everyone Agrees With You. We need to remember the art of respectfully agreeing to disagree. Admittedly, we as people can have intense and passionate convictions. Isn’t that part of what makes the world so interesting? The world would be a pretty boring place if it was you and your 7.7 billion clones. Perhaps we need to learn afresh the art of conversation?
Find Your Peace. When the world offers you no sanctuary, find your own sanctuaries. Family, faith, special places, special times, rest, prayer, and reflection are all opportunities to find peace amidst the storms of life. You don’t always have to be at war. The most successful businesspeople not only work hard, but stop to play hard too. We all need those sanctuaries. Mine might be different than yours, but we must all find them. Without them we would go insane. That is not a good outcome. Where will you find your peace?
Notice I didn’t get political on you. My objective was something much more important. You can decide whether I achieved it.