Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Development in the Developed Nation

7 million Australians live alone, out of 20 million alltogether this represents a huge proportion. Divorce is excellent for the property market, my double bed itself occupies more space than necessary for its sole occupant.
Last night I went out for dinner with marc from rew. I love the man dearly and we both share a common belief and value: life just can't consist of study [work]. On the way to meet marc in town I ran into no less than 5 people I knew on the crowded rush hour streets of melbourne. While it may be true that I wake up cold in the morning I am by no means isolated.
Yet people are trapped and alienated in society, commodified by fashion and reduced to wallpaper. Volunteer work is so unpopular at my workplace that they threw a party for me. Marc corrected my disgust by saying that such a small thing meant it was valuable to others what I do and that if people celebrate it it can inspire others.
We talked about people being trapped in bad relationships and how hard it seemed to become for people to say this is bringing me down I'm better off alone.
The young people in my department don't entertain any ideas of being there for the long haul. But all to often work becomes a trap, a relationship that is abusive and meaningless and takes the best years of our lives.
The very terminology of 'Developed' is wrong to apply to our society. Or America, Japan, The EU or the Asian Tigers. We are not there and possibly never will be. Whilst we can enjoy some benifits over 'developing' nations like high literacy, low infant mortality, low incedence of malnutrition it has given way to some declines in living standards like our high incedence of depression and mental illness, correalating substance abuse, obeisity, the breakdown of the family unit.
I have often thought of development that we seem to have this mentality as benefactors that we somehow got it right, which is wrong, not enough lateral thinking is applied to say 'We could build a society not based on oil and road' technology from the developed world can be filtered to bring in those that have a positive impact. Internet should have made cities obsolete. Affordable mass public transport like the bullet train is better than building road infrastructure particularly when communities are intimate tight nit pockets where bike and foot become quite practicle to service all local industries needs. Consumption habits can change or never be allowed to be as free wheeling as these things we value.
Butan did it: They set there major progress indicator as Gross National Happiness. I myself lived a low quality life where work dominated and taxed my energy levels and I came home aggressive and irate as I did nothing to feel any sense of progress in my life.
When I lost my love and became single for the first time since October 2001 I was confronted by the stark reality of my existence. Work remains a distraction for me but it is a fun little game. I constantly try to increase my productivity at work (making sure I am learning so as to be mutually benificial) and reducing the time it takes as I take on more flavour and colour in my life outside.
It is still less than ideal, work certainly doesn't provide me with a surplus of energy to take home and do the scriptwriting, blog posting, basketball, cycling and english tutoring that really has improved my quality of life.
But here's the thing, its so unusual for that attitude that I have actually been affecting a cultural change. Whilst everyone else seems snowed under with work forcing longer hours I am finding it hard to justify being there 8 hours a day.
So what of these other people my age working there? what do they do? What do they care about, what are their dreams? I got no idea. It all seems form over function, cut and dry.
Like me the majority are single, they earn money to dress up and go to nightclub and work their way through arseholes and bitchs. Their wages dissapear on petrol, tax, rent and liqour.
They don't go to church they go shopping. They don't think they watch big brother. When having my health assessment the nutritionist pointed out that I was a thinker and how rare that was.
Why do we work, save money and try and storm up the career ladder? to be happy, to have lifestyles we want to lead.
But it is simple to say this just isn't happening. Marc pointed out about the baby boomers, are they really just going to hang their boots up for 15 years, isn't this a massive drain on society and why is work in such a state that most people wouldn't want to do it.
Most people work because they like it, report after report determines that money has no impact on job satisfaction. The highest impact are those social ones and enough stress to indicate simply that the work you do is challenging.
I almost don' know stress. A few times I might have some emotional baggage to work through and that gets me on edge but generally when approaching things I've either been too confident of success or didn't care if I failed.
It is amazing what a benificial scam it is to go out in the community and do something. It's like negative gearing for the soul. My volunteer work has made me feel worthwhile, and it means the world to the people I give my time to. I have made more friends in the past 8 months than I did in my entire life before hand.
My ex has been in a foreign country for 4 months I realised with a shock this morning, the amount of time and change and learning I've done in this brief time made it feel like at least 8 months. I'm getting double the value out of life. I realised how much I've changed (something I've refused to acknowledge previously) that I was thinking how unrecognisable I'd be to her right now.
Except that I apparently look so the same that some of the old friends I ran into asked if I was still living and doing the exact same thing that I was doing three years ago.
But everyday is great for me now. This blog probably makes it sound like I've got a huge ax to grind but I'm more connected to my city, people and the world. I feel like someone, something almost like I should have my own wikipedia entry.
I feel great.

1 comment:

mr_john said...

On the subject of supposed "developed nations": I was in New Orleans last week and, you know, 1 year after the hurricane it really doesn't look too different to Jogjakarta 1 week after the earthquake there... Ok, sure, a levee broke and flooded most of the city. But come on. This is the richest country in the world!!!