Koyaanisqatsi is a Hopi word meaning “life in turmoil, life out of balance, life disintegrating, a state of life that calls for another way of living.” It is an apt description of the world we live in today. Absolutely every aspect of my world has been turned on it head, hacked to pieces, or made irrelevant. Economic, cultural, technological, political…nothing that I learned or assumed about these facets of my old world is applicable to this new one.
In human history, with every technological advancement entirely new social orders and cultural practices emerge in response. We are in the middle of a monumental shift of this variety. The new technologies that keep rolling out today are changing our culture in ways I could never have imagined. (Lots of science fiction authors have imagined it though, and I am sure that any day now, flying cars will be coming to a driveway (airway?) near you.) For many in my generation, though, its hard to even conceptualize iPods and the Internet and Facebook, let alone blogging and instant messaging. The kind of technical knowledge most employers demand today means many of us are not nor ever will be qualified. All the knowledge I gained as a worker, all the wisdom I have acquired by my work experiences, is irrelevant today.
The economy is creating havoc in more than just the shopping malls and car lots. In the course of my long unemployment, I have had to reconfigure my sense of self, my vision for the future (I still don’t have one), my place in the household. Whether you are employed or unemployed, the drag of this depression on our collective psyches is intolerable and it is infecting our social relationships. My husband’s workplace is a mere shell of what it was even 5 years ago. They work in a perpetual limbo, wondering if one morning they will show up and the doors will be locked. Those who are left are under such pressure that what were once friendly relationships are becoming antagonistic.
The election of President Obama seemed like it was going to be a reprieve from the dangerous direction Bush-Cheney had pushed us in. But I was wrong. Our politicians have all lost their minds…and their purpose and their ability to get anything accomplished. I am continually astonished by how much effort they put into doing nothing useful. And I despair daily for democracy in America.
Koyaanisqatsi: “a state of life that calls for another way of living.” In my head, I imagine this state as a gigantic social jigsaw puzzle—mostly fitted together—until a huge hole is punched into it sending the pieces flying helter skelter. The scary part is that we don’t know how they will land. It for sure won’t look like the original puzzle. In the meantime, I guess, stay flexible, find safe outlets for your frustrations, and keep your friends close. And be creative.