Welcome First-World Version 2.0
In the recent past, I have had several in-depth conversations with people who are concerned over manufacturing jobs leaving our country. One even questioned if in this mass-exodus the United States would cease to be a first-world country and would revert into third-world status. As these concerns were raised, I opened myself up to a Divine answer to these quandaries and immediately saw before me a new world in the process of being born. What I saw was a new world that is beyond first-world and something I am choosing to call “First World Version 2.0”.
The Industrial Revolution and its gifts
The industrial revolution created rapid growth in the Western world and ushered in the distinction between first, second and third world status. With the advent of industry, Western culture emerged and thrived (or so we have said), while developing countries lagged behind. The industrial age supported advancing technology and assembly-line based manufacturing allowed us to meet the growing needs of Western society. Technology advanced and manufacturing advanced along with it. Soon, we could produce everything the world would need to survive. The industrial revolution provided people with jobs, a regular wage which provided some with sense of security and eventually employee benefits such as insurance, paid time off, vacation, retirement plans, etc. were created to support the illusion of security.
The Insidious Side of Industry
While industry has provided workers with some measure of perceived surety, there is an insidious side to modern industry. Industry’s primary concern is not for its workers. Instead, it is driven to provide wealth for the corporation owners. A little known fact about industry is that when production met the common needs, industry moguls sought out how to create more demand (where none previously existed). Advertising then was born which purposefully manipulates people through their deeper seated insecurities, compelling them to believe they need things they don’t, causing them to spend more money. This has created a vicious cycle of misplaced needs, fear, work, spending, more fear, more work. In the end…..nothing is ever enough.
What We Left Behind
While the industrial age has provided us with many benefits and has supported our advancement in technology, there are many things that we left behind. Previous to industry, people worked to provide for their own needs through their own unique talents and abilities. Some farmed. Some were craftsmen. Some were teachers. Some provided medical care and support. Some served the households of the landowners. Some governed the land. Some maintained peace. Others upheld the law and presided over questions of the law. Some were artisans, musicians, storytellers, poets, writers, builders. And in all of this, people had time for leisure. I’m not saying things were perfect – many went without, and not everyone was fed. But really, the same is true today. With all the so-called advances we have made, poverty and violence in our country are at an all-time high. Many go without. Some go hungry. Many are without basic healthcare. Education is floundering. Racism, sexism, orientationism, prejudice, discrimination and ignorance still reign. And more than anything else – the vast majority of those living in our culture – no matter how much wealth they possess – are completely unfulfilled and despairing over a life that has no meaning.
The New World Already Being Born!
In short, the industrial age has been both a blessing and a curse to Western civilization. It has facilitated our growth and development and brought us to where we are today, but as we all can see (though many are still in denial and some are still clinging to the perceived surety industry provides), the industrial age is over (in our country anyway).
The good news is that as our manufacturing jobs flood toward developing countries (Mexico, China, India, etc.), something new has already taken its place. We just need to open our eyes a bit (and let go of our attachment to industry) to see it. If we can’t see it, we need only look to the youth (millennials and beyond) because they are already living in the new age that many of us have been too blind to see. The new world that is in the midst of being born and is already being enjoyed by our youth, has moved us beyond the industrial age into a world that is comprised of the perfect marriage between information, technology, creativity, entrepreneurialship, old world knowledge and craftsmanship, and (let us not forget!!!) leisure. It is a world that combines the best of the old world with all the advantages and benefits of the information/technology age.
Clinging to the Old or Welcoming the New?
While a radical shift in paradigm will be required to fully enjoy the new world (returning to a simpler life with fewer “things” and less attention to extravagance and things we don’t really need), it is already here and filled with blessings beyond imagining. As long as we are clinging to what we have known, as defined by the industrial age, we will miss it, or at the very least, suffer because of it. If we open our hands and hearts and release what we have known and be open to the new…..amazing things will begin to happen. We will find enjoyment in our lives. We will find fulfillment in what creatively nourishes us. We will grow closer in the more intimate connections that will be required in the new world. We will return to the wonders of nature and begin to care for our world. We might even learn how to take better care of those who are not able to care for themselves.
First World Version 2.0
While it will be a struggle for some, it is time to step beyond the industrial age and welcome in the new world, not one that plunges us into third-world status, but one that moves us beyond even the first world into First World Version 2.0, where we find fulfillment in our work, are educated and nourished through increasing access to knowledge, where creativity is actively engaged, where we are closer to the earth and to one another. Who is with me?