What happens when you try to get out of the system… or closer to the door at least.
How excited was I when I decided « That’s it ! I’m changing life!” Take off this one and put on the brand new one! Let’s go!
Well well well… If it were that simple.
Actually it is, for yourself it is. A decision and hop, you’re into the new life without blinking. It is a state of mind after all, an act of will more than anything concrete. The concrete comes afterwards and that is when things get… well… you know, trickier.
So six months ago, I did it, I jumped over the fence, into the unknown, into the wild and exciting adventure of my new life. It took me 3 months of freedom to come from vague awareness to this final decision.
Ensuing the act of will, come the actions themselves. So I sent a letter to my former company, registered to the unemployment agency and started to wonder about what I should do regarding the healthcare system. You know this feeling that you are a mouse playing in lab’s labyrinth for some sadistic scientist who isn’t driven by discovering something anymore but just chuckles about to see you running around like a crazy person, turning around, facing walls after walls? Well, that is exactly what you feel when you try to get out of the system, I’m not even dropping off the grid, just drastically coming closer to get out of it. The system resistance starts already there because once you’re out, it’s too late, they can’t catch you back. Funny enough, there are actual human beings in front of me, at the end of the phone line, in front of that computer screen hearing or reading my cries for “Help, let me out!” They feel like tiny robots of the monstrous crunching set of clicking metallic gears. The one is staying silent withholding information until I threaten to go legal, the other threatens to sign me off the list if I don’t get the document that the first one owes me but doesn’t give, the third sends me a form which I send back with all the documents that go with just to get a return letter with a new form and additional documents to produce to go with. These documents are to be requested to another metallic gear that take its sweet time to crunch it back to me.
Short comment in passing, what is the joke that we call Europe nowadays? What exactly is it simplifying for the people exactly? I heard it’s good for business but what about the actual human beings? Except from being able to circulate and work which you mainly could do as well without the huge EU organization itself since I was able do this in Australia for example just as simply. I am moving in between two countries, founding states of Europe and absolutely nothing communicates with one another. For everything, you, the small insignificant ant, have to be the go-between. This Europe is a pure economical space in the facts, even when it was built with ideals and principles, the result is there. Of course I am exaggerating but what has been done lately to continue building it? Where are the common work contracts, the harmonized pension, healthcare and tax systems, the clear and common work regulations? Are we any closer to that, any discussions, summits, proposals? That which would actually make Europe a space where any European can feel at home within any of the European states? Instead what do we have? A list of 5 apple species, mostly American-produced and patented seeds ,which are the only ones authorized in Europe, a list of calibrated tomatoes and regulations that favor big corporations as opposed to securing the ventures of the smaller companies. Way to go Europe.
Okay I stop ranting. Remember that song? “You can check-out any time you like, But you can never leave!” Well I’ve just had six months of that. Checked out with no leverage whatsoever at the mercy of the teeth of the tiny robots.
We pride ourselves to live in societies which are so-called “developed” and supposedly ensure individual freedom. But are we really free? Of course I don’t speak about this total freedom which is impossible to achieve if you want to live in societies; a minimum set of rules and protection for everyone and in particular for the weakest is needed to increase the well-being of everyone. The line is fine between creating a society structure and rules that allows for just enough regulations so as to preserve everyone’s freedom and reducing that precious free space with unnecessary regulations and administrative burdens. It’s a complicated job for sure.
Today, as long as you live your little standard life, you have a postal address which is actually corresponding to the place you live in, a car registered in the country you live in, registered income on which you can pay taxes and benefit from the healthcare system then all is well in the best of worlds. You feel like you are free because you are not bothered or restrained in anyway. So long as you live in the pre-defined, limited space that society has planned for you, you are free. You can express yourself, you can go places, you can wear nearly whatever you want, all within these limits which feel pretty comfortable.
What happens when you start deviating ever so slightly from the righteous path society has built up for you? The one where being ambitious is not necessarily a good quality and earning more money may not represent a lifetime achievement, where staying in one place and committing to a mortgage on your accommodation is not your definition of happiness, where spending most of your life working within the confinements of the industrial or financial worlds, most likely indoors too, is not your ideal way of spending more than half your time on this earth. What happens then? When your idea is that rather than climbing a virtual and artificial social ladder built on the sole principles of increasing your consumption and stepping on the heads of the ones below, rather than climbing that one, you decide to create your own ladder towards your personal idea of happiness, when you let free your creative energy to design and enact a life that fits with your values, when your values are not twisted anymore by the peer pressure of the working environment but shaped by the thinkers of today and tomorrow, the ones whose kindness and awareness are creating mini-pacific revolutions which are gaining in amplitude with each individual taking ownership of its own destiny, when rather than investing in one home, you chose to travel and be nomadic for a while to go and meet these people who are quietly changing the world for the better, when you realize living indoors isn’t for you, when you are stuck by the fact that the politics both of the so-called developed countries and within the confinement of the corporate environments you have experienced have become an object of disgust because the human dimension is simply forgotten, little lies and hypocrisy, excuses and cowardice, big words without actions are the norm of these worlds which in lots of aspects resemble each other for the worst of it.
I am not saying that working is bad, far from it, though I do believe we need to reinvent its forms and its value as well as its presence in our lives. There are plenty of jobs which are useful, needed and which are done thanks to dedicated and passionate people. Take a doctor, a nurse, someone producing food, a helper, a person who gives his/her time to clean other people’s home when they are busy doctoring, nursing, and so on… I am speaking about the bullshit jobs that create little to no added values, loads of them in the corporate world, whether industrial or financial, and also the ones which have been so cut down into little pieces that it has become a mindless idiotic task when it use to be a full-blown craftsman job. We did things halfway, we used to think robots would replace humans in factory and free them from there on to do a nicer, less physical job somewhere else. Instead we end up with less jobs in the manufacturing environment and the ones that remain are often so reduced that it makes it very difficult for the person to experience professional pride. It isn’t true in every industrial factories, luckily some still employ actual craftsmen which knowledge is invaluable to create the machinery that seems to run the world today but even there, you hear them saying their craft is being destroyed, the employer takes only apprentice because they are subsidized by the state, pays them peanuts and never hires them afterwards in a way that those who learned the craft then get replaced by new ones who are still in learning, preventing the creation of a professional and skilled crew. What about these bullshit jobs where people spend 8 hours a day managing other people’s tasks or jobs who themselves are meant to manage other tasks and so on, where you day is spent powerpointing, emailing and meeting up with other powerpointers and emailers in order to take decisions which in turns will create more powerpoints and emails? Of course sometimes at the very end of this chain, there is someone who is actually creating something or producing something but doesn’t it seem like a tumorous amount of wasted time and resources? If we would only stop valuing growth above everything else, if we would change the rules of the investment market, stop paying shareholders a variable amount, they only get a fixed percent of the benefits of the company in exchange notable for remaining invested for a pre-defined amount of time then they would be really invested in the well-being of the company and maybe CEOs wouldn’t cut costs everywhere to increase cash flow and satisfying the short-term profit-greedy shareholders, if we would tweak a bit the system to realign it with values that would finally be in agreement with our own survival, not even our well-being here, just our basic survival as a species , then perhaps there would be no need to build up such giant stationary entities which are these corporations full of useless jobs. Perhaps the key is to have more people actually producing and creating, whether art or objects or food or actual services, and less working these self-important desk-jobs. Internet even would help us do that. Make loads of little producing structures, connect them together to let them brainstorm and bring alive big-ass projects. Because that is always the main objection, yes but little entities cannot produce work of huge magnitude, build up a bridge, find the cure for cancer,…etc. That isn’t true anymore, you see it, small start-up producing big results, and with the possibilities to connect all these small independent and autonomous entities then everything is possible. Collective and collaborative work brings results.
Let us take down the multinationals, the huge companies, divide them into smaller sensible human structures and let each unit be independent and work within its value network. More interfaces yes but better aligned objectives and real human connections within each entity, let us use technology to our advantage to make communication seamless and leave these inert uselessly huge entities rest for good.
Modularity, collaboration, communication and most of all human links working together in their own independent concrete-value-creating entities… A dream? I hope not. The future perhaps!