DOES anyone out there feel that life is become less than civilised, despite our huge technological advances over the last half century? I would even go so far as to say that these very technological advances has led to a certain amount of de-civilisation…and a corresponding increase in stress-related illness.
Years ago, people had time for leisure, time to sit and stare, or have conversations with families and friends. To actively build relationships. Time where the ‘connection’ was valued. (Remember when we would sit on the front porch and chat after dinner?)
Today, no-one has the time – I just met a couple who conducted their entire courtship via text message because both were so busy travelling for their jobs. I’m convinced that it won’t be long before marriages are solemnised via videoconference and Skype!
Of course, here in Singapore, the noise level makes contemplative time a luxury few achieve. The constant groan and whine of traffic, of renovations all around because of an active construction industry and home sale market, the shouting from people who need to make themselves heard above the noise. Is this what we call civilisation? Or progress?
From a macrobiotic perspective, we say that people are living more ‘yang’ lifestyles – rushing about, highly active, where the body and mind never gets a chance to simply ‘sit’ still to simply be, to contemplate, think and reflect.
Couple this with an increasingly yang diet, and what you have is simply…too much yang. Even in the emerging countries, traditionally more vegetarian, we see an uptrend in chronic illness. As economic development takes hold, meat consumption increases – a common phenomenon. And later, so does chronic illness.
It is my belief that the constant stress of simply getting through each day takes its toll on our bodies. The strain of being in motion all the time, of having to juggle several tasks, of working around the clock because remote teams and international business connections make time-zones irrelevant. The stress makes people impatient, eager to get to the next thing – so much so that the basic civilities of human contact have gone the way of the dodo.
When was the last time you chatted with your neighbours, had morning coffee with them? Spent hours talking to your kids, rather than palming them off on the TV cum babysitter, or the tuition teacher, or tennis coach or their school teacher? Or simply picked up the phone (not text messaged or emailed!) to talk to someone without agenda – just to re-connect?
I think this modern way of living has almost de-humanised us in the sense that it takes us away from a community of other human beings where our interactions were focused on relationships, rather than agenda.
People need people! Chronic illness is our body’s way to telling us so. I have met many people who tell me that the diagnosis of illness was a wake-up call, and that it took that diagnosis for them to listen to their bodies, to slow down, to review priorities. No-one ever died saying: Gee, I wished I had made another million bucks! But many have passed on saying: I wish had I more time with my spouse/partner/kids/parents/lover…
So won’t you take some time today to make a human connection, without agenda? No talk of work, jobs, business, money, the latest Hollywood blockbuster or the new ‘It’ bag. Just focus on things which touch your essential human-ness – kindness, love, peace, friendships, spirituality, community. These unite us all and respecting this part of ourselves is respecting the natural order and our place in it.
It is the recognition of this that is the beginning of healing.