There is something I have to tell you. I do not know whether it is good or bad, so I will leave that up to you. I do know however, that it has been on my mind for quite some time, so bear with me please, as I tell you what I know.
This world we live in is in a constant state of change. Everything is transient. We are incessantly evolving. There is more to it than that though, dear stranger. It is intentional. Purposeful. By design and concerted effort. A yearning to excel, improve and be better. I am talking about progress.
We are never satisfied. Enough, is never enough. We always want more. We always want bigger and faster. But at what cost? Something must be left behind if we are to progress. Democracy replaced feudalism. The fires of industry replaced agriculture. In turn, the convenience of technology has replaced agriculture. In some ways this progress has been necessary, and in others it has been by desire.
There is an essential flaw in the notion of progress however. It is the idea that because we have the capacity to do something, it should be done. The problem with this mindset is twofold. First of all, dear stranger, progress requires us to disregard what was. Secondly, it implies that whatever is created, is inherently better than what was in merely because it is a progression.
Not everything we have now is better than what was. We created financial institutions to aid us with finances, now we are hopelessly in debt. War was once made face to face with handheld weaponry, we have weapons today that could annihilate all life on earth. We invented machines to manage industrial labour that have left communities jobless and without hope.
What was once the economic background of many nations, has fallen into disrepair and ruin. Dear stranger, it is our fault. We let the bright lights of innovation blind us. In our blindness, our local communities and economies have been desolated. Big corporations have replaced local business – and in doing so, our livelihoods have been replaced by dollars.
Do you see the beauty in globalisation, stranger? I see it too. It has made our lives great in so many ways. However, recent events have exposed its fragility. We were too dependent on global communities, and our blindness has been exposed. And in this time of crisis, what have we been forced to do? We have returned to what we so easily replaced. Local businesses, local industries, local people. The backbone of what was, like a phoenix, it has risen again and become our saviour.
I hope, dear stranger, that you see this too.
I hope everyone sees it. Whilst the damage of this crisis is apparent, I believe we can use it positively – and learn from it. The way forward is not aimless progression, we know that now. We have been saved by local communities, businesses and people, and in turn we must ensure that we save them too.
I hope this reaches you well.
Best wishes, goodbye, my friend.
Letter to a Stranger, July 2020.