For centuries, humankind has evolved through two mechanisms – one, the growth & evolution of a few individuals which has resulted in new products of a civilization (science, art, culture, philosophy, etc.); and two, the spread and acceptance of these products of civilization through education, cultural & social movements, institutional mechanisms like government, and through imperial and government diktat in some cases.
Media houses have traditionally viewed themselves in four key roles:
One, providing information & news to their readership Two, providing entertainment & helping their readers pass their time enjoyably Three, promote (actively or passively) a point of view or a certain set of interpretations that help shape opinions Four, act as a medium where contemporary culture and norms are reflected back to society, thereby strengthening the social validity of norms.
Fighting Covid: the missing link
The battle against Covid is taking place on two fronts – individual and governmental.
Individuals are expected to adopt safe practices and practice social distancing to the best of their opportunities & abilities.
Governments are –
- focusing on the suppression of illness by ensuring that communication of the virus is severely restricted. This has meant restricting all forms of physical communication (travel, work, entertaining, etc.) to the maximum extent possible.
- utilizing available healthcare & testing facilities to the best possible extent to cure those who are already afflicted.
There is a third front in the fight against Covid that must be actively encouraged to play its role.
There is something profound in the Coronavirus – a lurking recognition in our collective consciousness that we are in some way reaching the limits of a world paradigm.
For the past 500 years, it is the heroic mode of humankind that has demonstrated its glory – the conquering of nature, the conquering of distance itself, the conquering of many resource-based limits through the invention of new materials, and the making available of comfort and consumption to millions more than ever before.
Swami Vivekananda proposes the notion of “national individuality”.
What does this term mean? Does it mean that each nation has its own manners, culture, customs, language, traditions, etc.? Or does it mean something deeper?
Swami Vivekananda himself gives the answer – by national individuality he refers to a deeper vitality, a deeper collective consciousness, working towards a shared collective purpose – which in turn is unique within the many purposes that different nations fulfill.
The society of mindful consumers?
My hypothesis: The central driver for transition to a new order will be the shift from ‘acquisition’ to ‘assimilation / usage/ value leverage’.
This means that people will and must learn to use resources better, especially in the context of an extended global recession. This includes all kinds of resources: goods, knowledge, natural resources, and human resources.
Society is facing a dual challenge.
On the one hand, it is facing the challenge of transforming the conditions in which it lives – poverty, hunger, infrastructure, roads, sustained economic and social transformation, dealing with the effects human prosperity such as climate change, rising inequality, etc.