When I was growing within the middle class safety of the 1970s, I was told I could expect a better life than my parents had, in the same way they had experienced a better life than theirs.
It was presented as links in a chain of societal progress. As long as our technology improved, so would our standard of living. And back in the 70s, we had every reason to trust that trajectory would continue for our children.
Life in the “Disco Age” was a flurry of rich and sensual choices, enhanced by a wide array of mind altering possibilities. From LSD to EST to laser shows, we had the means to communally evolve and to thoroughly enjoy ourselves in the process.
Our lifestyle choices often involved the brazen over-consumption of our planet’s resources. And we didn’t see a problem with that. Back then there was no doubt that the trough was as bottomless as our cup of coffee at the local Greek diner. The idea that our extravagant lifestyle choices were in some way harmful to our world wasn’t even a consideration.
But sometime in the last quarter century or so, it became apparent that our trajectory has gone off course. Many agree today that our children will generally not be better off than us as they enter adulthood. At least not by the material standards that we usually measure our betterment by: more food, more fun, more stuff, and more comfort.
When we entered the 1980s, John Lennon was murdered. Not since the Kennedy assassination had so many felt the deep pain of that type of tragic loss. Around the same time, our communal evolution seemed to get stuck by just seeking for our individualized desires.
As our technology blossomed, we separated ourselves from each other and from the natural world even further. We chose not to give peace a chance and just increased our consumption, gobbling up worldly success instead. We wanted the lifestyles of the rich and famous.
The division between the haves and have-nots widened, and the accumulation of wealth became the primary purpose of our work. But some of us were beginning to see the harm that our lifestyle choices were causing.
Today there is every reason to believe that our children will actually be materially worse off than us. This is due, in large part, to the cumulative effects that our unexamined lifestyle choices are having on the living systems of our world. It turns out the trough wasn’t bottomless after all.
The mythology of a privileged middle class being able to endlessly suck the resources from a limitless world is fading as fast as last night’s dreams.
Due to our egocentric choices of the past and present, we are facing serious issues of great consequence. Most agree that our planetary home is faltering. We seem to be moving very quickly toward something dark that most of us do not understand and would rather not think about.
When we do allow ourselves to dwell on what the near future may hold, the fear that arises can quickly shut us down. We may purposefully dive into the societal distractions of the day, which have never been louder. The many distractions that keep us from recognizing the need to heal our planet, as we heal ourselves, has become the largest industry ever created—profiting the very few at great cost to the rest of us.
But, despite the distraction overload, many of us who grew up in the 60s and 70s still carry those sparks of imagination and conscious evolution from our youth. While many of us have enjoyed the material fruits of modern society, we can’t help but to feel a deeper longing for connection and meaning beyond material gain and comfort. These were the seeds that were planted in our younger days. And for some, they are beginning to flower.
Many of today’s younger generation have never been given a seat at the table of worldly success in the first place. They have no investment in the current system and are open to a different way of doing and being. Many are taking the lead in creating new belief systems and worldviews based more on compassion and connection with the world and each other.
The time is ripe for a great awakening for both young and old—an evolutionary leap into a more kindhearted human family. And we can all become a part of that shift if we choose to.
There is a new dance craze afoot and we can all join in! It’s better than disco! The first step in this most extraordinary of dances is consciously choosing to live a lifestyle based on not causing harm to ourselves or others. This is a radical and revolutionary choice. It’s a singular choice that puts us on a path of true awakening and aligns us with the living systems of our planetary home. It is the mantra required for our times: to the best of my ability, I shall be harmless.
John Lennon may be long gone, but his invitation for us to imagine an evolved world and a life of peace for our children and theirs has never been so relevant.