Social Distancing

change

This year we’ve stumbled into a yawning abyss called society. There are approaching eight billion of us here on Earth, in various stages of individualisation. Departure. Uprooting. Alienation. Social distancing.

It’s partially a cultural issue and partly to do with urbanisation. Urbanisation is the largest movement of people in the world today. All the world’s population growth is in cities – rural population is declining, paradoxically creating more space for nature. Stranger still, one of the biggest pandemics of today is loneliness.

Yet we’re suddenly facing each other. Saturn and Jupiter are passing into Aquarius, the sign of society, membership, belonging, ideas, plans, principles and ‘how things ought to be’. When Pluto moves into Aquarius in 2024-5 for eighteen years until 2043, well, we enter a social process. Since 2008 we’ve been in a systemic process, and what matters next is people. Last time Pluto was in Aquarius, we had the French Revolution.

Some people give up on humanity, dedicating themselves to the natural environment, or wishing they could or would do so. But if we people don’t change, environmental issues won’t get resolved. We’re transitioning from exploiters to guardians of nature. To do that, we need also to transition from exploiters to guardians of our fellow humans. The main variable is the destruction we permit ourselves to go through to get there. Humanity’s crimes against itself rest on omission and commission.

Uranus and Neptune went through Aquarius in 1996-2003 and 1998-2011 respectively. That took us through globalisation and the social impacts of the economic crisis, which began with food riots, through to the Arab Revolutions – and it didn’t stop there.

No politics or religion were involved in the Arab revolutions: young, marginalised people just wanted to get a life. This matter is still pending. The current frontline is Sudan, with Iraq and Lebanon close behind. And Hong Kong, and Chile, and the emergent ramifications of Covid.

Many issues are pending and our planet has grown anxious. Angst about anything and everything. Partially this is psychological, a winding up of tightening hearts and minds, and partially it is circumstantial, since the world is getting crazier, more complex, polarised and dangerous.

We’re facing up to each other. My freedoms aren’t your freedoms, those people over there aren’t like us, and yet we’re all in the same crowd, utterly dependent on each other.

The world is cleaving into thoughtful and inconsiderate people, empathics and libertarians, public and individual priorities, matters of control, influence and freedom, with surprisingly large sub-surface reservoirs of social schism lurking underneath. “Who’s going to die first?”, “Who can I blame?”, “Who’s going to get the last loaf of bread?”, “How much do I care?”.

Not that anyone really knows what’s going on, and that’s a key part of the training. We’re out of our depth. This is bigger than we can see.

It’s not exactly a disaster. Change always looks like a disaster when we’re plummeting into it. Then it becomes crisis, and then transition, then a stunned quietness, then relief, revival and a new reality. It’s a question of the extent of pain and loss we humans must go through to get there, but get there we shall, by fair means or foul.

What’s wrong is that some people bear this burden of change far more than others – this is a fundamental issue of principle, of sharing. You can’t have privilege and deprivation when, like it or not, you all sit in the same boat.

It’s also about inner resilience – the capacity to make something good out of a bad situation. And social resilience – the capacity to change our social and community ways to meet whatever life throws at us, and regardless of whatever went on before. How to make life as easy as possible in the circumstances we get. How to feed and look after each other, and how to organise that.

It’s a big shock. Things have been going the other way in recent decades – or was it centuries? Humanity is meeting itself. This is the planetarisation of consciousness, the deeper aspect of globalisation. The bit we’ve stumbled upon is the horrifying realisation that we’re all so profoundly different. Yet, just somehow, we’re all part of a human family. And we’re in danger of making a mess of it.

Some of us run forward to change things while we have the chance, and some run back to safe territory to try to keep things the same – and there’s a bit of both in all of us. The bit of ourselves that we don’t like, we blame on others. If we are to survive, the twain must meet. We must get along with people we disagree with. But wait, they’ve got kids and grannies too – they’re just like us.

This is what’s emerging in the collective psyche, and it’s the big theme for the coming years. Is the system here to serve the people, or are the people here to serve the system? And what tribe do you belong to?

Until recently we were focused on climate change and a plethora of issues that all confusingly melted into a soup of horror – sub-surface political angst.

And now, this, this thing that we all wish we could get control of and cannot. How much it’s a virus and how much it’s a miasm, an epidemic of the psyche, is open to question.

If we dig a level deeper, we’re faced with a test of faith. Not my faith or your faith, but faith.

When the chips are down, how much are we prepared to sacrifice ourselves for what we believe to be good and right? Or is it safer to withhold, let others take the strain and see what happens?

There’s some good news too. But that awaits another day.

With love, Palden.

And if you want a bit more, try this.