(Athens, January 2018. Photo by Joshua Tartakovsky (C) All Rights Reserved 2018.)
By Joshua Tartakovsky
21 January 2018
In the past few months following the loss of my grandfather, and in the past year following turbulent personal events, I have refrained from writing. It is better to absorb information first before spitting out whatever comes to one’s mind all at once anyway.
Recently due to travel I noticed how many things I own which are totally unnecessary for my happiness and well-being, and can be used by other people. All around the world, people, through the use of smartphones and the use of social media, are learning about the abundance of goods that are out there, and want a piece of the cake too. But there is not enough for everyone. The toll on the environment is too great, and not everyone can possibly earn such high wages to enable them to buy more expensive clothes and nice things. What is most incredible, however, is to notice the great importance we attach to things and possessions and the large disregard by which we view time itself. But time is the most precious “commodity” we have. It is running out of our hands, like water, every second that passes, and the day will come when life on this earth will be over for our souls in this very individual body.
How much do we really need all the things we have? And do we own our things or do these things own us?
Consider: if you are working many hours in a job you dislike to buy more things you do not use, you are replacing time/your life, with possessions that you do not even appreciate.
Our obsession with possessions has surpassed basic reason. Do we really need that many things and does our happiness depend on it?
From my experience traveling abroad, I can say that for me personally, having a place to live, having good food to eat and basic clothes, is enough to maintain basic happiness. Of course, when the weather is lovely and one enjoys the company of others, one needs less physical things as a measure of happiness.
Humanity is at a turning point, there are not enough things for everyone, and why do we need to attach ourselves to things we do not use? why not share more?
Can we begin to think as a community rather than individuals, even if this community is very limited to people we know and like, and even as we oppose giving free-goods to lazy people who do not work for them?
The notion of the wholly independent individual, not only flies against physics and biology, it also does not bring genuine happiness.
It’s simply incredible how attached we are to buying more and more things we do not use. The lighter one travels and is, the more there is time to enjoy the present moment and live more fully, to clear one’s mind, and to be in a relationship with others and with God.
But for many who are attached to things alone, naturally, when the day comes and there are shortages or lacks, the separation from physical things will be too much to bear, and many may turn to violence or to dangerous behavior. How easy it is to lose focus on what is important in life when time, being invisible, is being wasted.
We have forgotten that without time, we cannot enjoy things. Time has not even entered the equation.
The next decade is going to be an interesting one.
China is likely to become the world’s leading economy by 2030 or 2035. Once that happens, we can expect to see more win-win economics and greater room for countries and societies to practice their natural sovereignty as they see fit.
Until then, chaos will increase in western countries, where the economy has not benefited the majority of working people.
Meanwhile, in my travels I could not help but notice how important it is to talk to people you meet along the way. So many interesting stories, and things are linked via invisible threads that cannot be seen. Like attracts like, and the kind of people who you run into or sit next to, may have a lesson for you and vice versa.
In our post-modern world where kids are addicted to smartphones and look for cheap thrills, we have forgotten the need for discipline, hard-work, sacrifice, overcoming our instincts and impulses.
An addiction to comfort cannot bring satisfying happiness.
Geopolitically, Turkey is probably going to feel the heat from NATO’s support for pro-Kurdish groups, and may face continued attacks on its sovereignty as some may wish to see it fragmented.
Brazil and Greece are expected to deteriorate with both countries being in immense debt and with large unemployment.
The US economy is expected to grow with President Trump attracting more companies back to the national borders.
But in the coming era, one of chaos and unpredictability, only those who know to adapt will survive.
Those who cannot manage beyond the instruction book or guidelines and cannot change their plans as the world changes, will cling to the outdated plans with greater frustration.
As the great American writer Eric Hoffer said, “In times of change learners inherit the earth; while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.”
Since we live in times where the central authority is weakening, the debate on our future is going to increase. At a time of collapse and chaos, everything is brought to the table. Roughly and categorically speaking, this is the kind of debate that took place in the Roman Empire during the time of Emperor Hadrian, when the identity of the empire was in question (pro-Hellenic or pro-Latin identity?). Or in China during the warring states era, when Confucionism , Daoism, and other schools competed for attention.
2018 is going to be a wonderful year for the bold ones.