Informally, Halloween, which is a few days away, begins a shopping season that stretches through the beginning of the following year. But this year, ships are stuck at sea, ports are jam-packed, and merchandise is not reaching the stores or the customers who ordered online. It appears as though many children and lovebirds will be disappointed this holiday season. From computer chips to cars, the world seems to be downsizing volumes, and I think it is a great thing for all of us.
Because we are unwilling to feel connected, nature forces us to realize it. We have been interdependent and interconnected for decades, if not more, but our attitude toward each other has been to exploit and harm one another wherever and whenever possible. We derive pleasure from others’ pain, oblivious to the fact that their suffering will eventually hurt us, too.
Now, using precise blows to our emotional soft spots, nature is making us see what we refuse to see: We are all connected. The shipping crisis will be a blessing for all of us if we wise up and understand what it is telling us about shopping, and about our attitude to one another as a whole.
When you create ties on the basis of trying to pull your way as hard as possible, at some point the ties will snap. This is what is happening today. All the systems of connection we have built are breaking, which affects every aspect of our lives—from food prices to gadgets to transportation, and to every realm of human engagement. We have built our entire system on egoism; can we expect it not to collapse?
Now we have no choice but to start thinking more in terms of “we” and less in terms of “me.” When it is clear that disruptions anywhere lead to disruptions everywhere, we cannot maintain abusive and exploitative attitudes toward other places or other people. We have to shift from thinking nationally to thinking globally, from an exclusive thinking to an inclusive one.
Eventually, we will need mechanisms to coordinate global activities, functioning mechanisms, not like the UN or its affiliates. But this will come later, after we change our thinking and build what needs to be built without trying to use it for power or exploitation.
In a world where plagues spread like the wind, production stops the world over, and food and gas prices spike everywhere, collaborative thinking is not optional; it is imperative. Cooperation is the only reasonable attitude, the only one that will change things for the better. If we keep pulling our own separate ways, the strings that tie us all together will snap and we will all fall painfully hard.
Oct 16, 2021; Los Angeles, Calif., USA; Cargo ship await to enter the Port of Los Angeles. Supply chain issues have caused shortages of goods throughout the country with cargo ships waiting off shore in Southern California to off-load. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY