Our Grandmother’s Voices
It interests me to see how thinking and worldview is shaped by major events. We think we’re all individuals, yet we’re also the outcome of the collaborative need to strive and survive events that may have taken place generations before our own. We follow trends and patterns that have been developed from the experiences of our forebears and act from we've learned and absorbed from storytelling and observation of parents and grandparents who in turn have learned from their forebears. World war 1, the Great Depression, and World War 2, for instance had such an impact that we are still feeling it today. The generation that lived through these turbulent years - three whole decades - taught their children the lessons learned from such hardship. A culture was shaped from the carcass of the pre- and post-war years and reactions, individual and regionally, are only now settling down. After times of high stress and periods of economic downturn, where food is scarce and luxuries even more so, come recovery periods followed swiftly by periods of “celebration” where everything is better, plenty abounds, and the need to be frugal is no longer a requirement. Societies slip from savers to spenders. Governments work with industries to ensure consumer desires are heightened, culture embraces overabundance, individuals become acclimatised to the new situation. Encouraging people to buy, buy, buy, boosts economies, but it is insidious. Encouraging them also to expect certain types of packagings or ingredients or variety, to take on board technology or living practices they don’t need, this is where we fall down. We’re coming out of one of these periods now. It’s a slow progress in response to the depth of devastation of the first half of last century and due to the movement coming from the people rather than governments and industry and instigated by the recognition that our planet cannot cope with the levels of decadent wastage we’ve reached. Governments (not all but many) are now so entwined with industry that to slow down on buying, on wanting, is seen as the antithesis to progress. We're being forced into it by the events of 2020 and the global economic pause as priority turns to prevention and survival of Covid-19. It is time then that we re-examine the concept of progress before we are all lost in the cycle of planetary evolution. I see that it is happening (even before the pandemic). Some governments are re-configuring their focus. These governments are usually in countries where progress is measured in the health and happiness of the population, in line with industry and economic strength. Many western governments are unbalanced - too much focus on the economy and industry growth instead of the well-being of the people. Yet technology is growing and changing to provide healthier options for doing things; travel and transport, farming and land management techniques, daily lifestyle and living. Waste is once more seen as unwarranted and its insidiousness is recognised in all the life cycle stages of products from development to packaging and distribution to point of sale and arriving in our homes. Everyday we reject more and more the unnecessary- like buying bananas packaged in plastic containers, and aim for standards that are more natural and less wasteful. We’ve come a long way since 1945. since our grandparents and great-parents were forced to live without. Since they lost their husbands and wives, brothers, sisters, uncles, aunties and friends to war and its consequences. The generation we call the boomers grew up learning from the generation that survived war and depression, loss and hunger. It was this generation that were impacted by the Korean and Vietnam Wars and that taught its children to celebrate life and fight for what you want, including to separate individual wants with government policies. We grew up learning from them and the next generation will learn from us in turn. There are so many elements in history that form the basis of current and future civilisation. I’ve only looked at the impact of war and depression, but alongside that is suffrage, federation and independence, separation of state and church, equality of education, gender, public health, and the list goes on. All these things take time to inculcate into general culture and government policy. Progress, the type that balances economic survival with overall wellbeing of communities, seems slow, but it is steady.
Our grandmother's lives echo in the voice of our parents as they teach us everything we need to know to move forward in the world. They are the echo in our own voices as we in turn communicate our learnings. We are born into this world through the blood and story and song of those who have come before us. Not everything they have to teach us is right, not everything is factual, but listen more to the intent and shape it to the society and culture we now live in, and you may find a new understanding of who you are, where you've been, and where you're headed.