Although Israel is recovering from the Covid pandemic, it seems as though the job market is still in the midst of a lockdown. It is not that there are no jobs to occupy; it’s just that people aren’t keen to occupy them. In fact, so many Israelis prefer to remain jobless that the government has initiated a campaign to encourage people to return from furlough or from unemployment. So far, however, the campaign has had only marginal success.
Truthfully, I understand these people. I think that before we rush back to our pre-Covid life, which apparently wasn’t something we so terribly miss, we must reflect on what we want. People now realize that they can have a good life even if they earn less. They have more free time to spend with family and friends, and once you are among people you like, you don’t need to spend a lot of money to enjoy yourself. A day at the beach with the family hardly costs a thing, but is very enjoyable and emotionally rewarding. When you think about it, how much more do we need?
Besides, the job market needs fewer and fewer workers. We’ve gone from measuring things in kilometers and meters to measuring things in nanometers. Everything has shrunk, and everything requires fewer working hands. Even computer related jobs require fewer workers than before; the whole society is shifting toward a state where less working hours are required. It is no wonder that some countries are seriously mulling universal basic income programs instead of sending people back to work, or a shorter workweek. The days of hard work are nearing their end, and we need to figure out how we want to spend the additional time on our hands.
Food supply and other necessities will not be a problem; we are already producing more than we’re consuming and we throw away the excess products just to keep the prices up. If we improve distribution, there will be no shortage of necessities anywhere in the world.
Which leads us to the real issue before us: making sure that we get what we need so we can have a good life without worrying about subsistence. To do that, we must put behind us divisions that currently set us apart, such as racial tensions, political rivalries, power struggles of all kinds, cultural differences, and so forth. It may seem impossible to overcome these age-old differences, until we realize that it is precisely thanks to these disputes that we have developed our society, technology, and all that we have. In other words, in order to keep developing, we must preserve precisely the views that we oppose. Without them, our own views will lose their relevance.
Think of love without the existence of hate, and the word becomes meaningless. Think of freedom without captivity, and the whole concept becomes void. We wouldn’t be able to value, or evaluate anything were it not for the existence of its antonym.
Today, people are realizing that there really is no need to work so much, but unless we develop the social values to support this view, society will disintegrate and mayhem will ensue. For centuries, we have cultivated self-absorption to the point that today the vast majority of us are narcissists, plain and simple. A society of narcissists cannot build a distribution system that will see to the well-being of every person since such a system requires regard for the needs of other people, and too many of us simply don’t have it.
Therefore, the first thing to do in order to sail through the transition period toward a new society is to realize that we are dependent on each other, and especially on those who are opposite from us. We needn’t like people who think, speak, or act opposite from us, but we do need to recognize their value for us. We need to realize that they are the ones who render our own tenets valid. If we achieve this, we will realize that we can’t succeed without each other, or even be who we are. This is how interdependent we are.
We do not need to love, or even like each other, not yet anyway. All we need is to realize that those I hate are precisely the ones on whom my life depends. If we do that, we will have a society where people truly do not need to work, where they can spend their days in peace, since we’ll be watching out for one another.