Saturday, 24 September 2011
What might the economic crisis be teaching us?
As further shock waves permeate the banking system and the Eurozone in particular, what should we be learning from the current economic crisis? The I-Ching in the hexagram Shock says:
"The shock of continuing thunder brings fear and trembling. The superior man is always filled with reverence at the manifestation of God; he sets his life in order and searches his heart, lest it harbour any secret opposition to the will of God."
So if the continuing thunder of the economic crisis is the manifestation of God and it is prompting us to set our lives in order and search our heart lest it harbour any secret opposition to the will of God, what are we to infer is the will of God? Firstly, if we understand that life is perfect (ie. paradoxically that being so imperfect it challenges us constantly to learn and evolve and in this is perfect), then this crisis is no mistake, it is exactly the black hole (cf. One Way of Looking at Man by MC Philp) we need to learn something important. As astrologers it is easy to see the archetypes involved; the crises have followed the Pluto-Uranus square with Saturn and Mars thrown in for spice at various points over the last few years.
What seems to be happening is that we are in the death throes of the dominance of Europe as an economic and political power. Economic power is shifting to the East. Humbling it may be for the European economies but not surprising given the population demographics. What are the lessons for Europe? Firstly there is a degree of letting go and acceptance that our time is passing. It also seems to be particularly affecting the Eurozone. The experiment of Europe was to create a European super state which could continue to be a potent force in the world even if the individual countries might be losing their individual power and influence. Yet the reality has been more like a parent with a collection of unruly children. The promise of Europe was to divert funds to underdeveloped parts of the Union in order to promote growth and development across the Union. This is laudable but like any idealistic notion it harbours the danger of "opposition to the will of God" and in typically taoist fashion, when we try to consciously impose our vision on the world, the world usually creates the opposite. The reality of European projects has been that it has encouraged countries to spend beyond their means in order to attract European funding. Outdated agricultural systems are propped up, unnecessary motorways and buildings built. The result has been that like children with indulgent parents the individual member states have been spoilt and rather than benefiting they have been left in crisis. Europe has become the parent to whom everyone turns to "put it right" and bail them out.
Having a son who is 18 I am entering on the journey of trying to help him set sail on his voyage of becoming independent. I recognise that if I am too ruthless, he will lose confidence in himself and it could precipitate a collapse; also it might leave him with a bitterness that when I could have helped him, I did not. On the other hand if I am too supportive and indulgent and he is not given the responsibility for himself, he cannot learn and grow. It is a difficult balance to get right - I sympathise with Europe. Like any crisis though, it is really a prompt to growth. We need to be in crisis for us to take the situation seriously and "set" our "life in order". What if our idealistic notion of Europe is itself the secret opposition to the will of God? "Do not make false idols" the Bible tell us. My own learning has been that it is not worth entering into a power battle with Life (a more neutral term since God has many connotations and I don't really know what God is). If Life wants something to collapse it is going to do so. I suspect it may be the Euro currency in the same way that the previous Exchange Rate Mechanism fell apart. Perhaps it is a phase of learning for Europe on how to work together collectively. Or perhaps the very notion of Europe is exclusive and needs to go; since the whole world is "us" why do we need any boundaries between us, why identify with Europe more than with being human and why exclude or put up barriers to other countries? I have always had a discomfort with clubs and religions which cause people to identify with them rather than with humanity (what Transactional Analysis calls the "I'm ok, you're ok, they're not game"). Perhaps we have simply become too attached to the notion that material objects will make us happy and we need this to lever us out of that notion?
Perhaps this is also part of the preparation, or clearing of the ground, for the new age? Since the new age is the age of Aquarius-Leo (cf. The Golden City by MC Philp), it is something to do with the collective (Aquarius) and with identification (Leo). I notice that in recent years it has become fashionable to talk about cultural differences between countries and how we cannot understand each other unless we are aware of these cultural differences. I have been lucky enough in my job to work all over the world and my experience has been very different to this. What it has confirmed to me is that culture is simply one level, like being tall, or thin but beneath that we are all human. I notice that when people identify with cultures they separate themselves from others and create "us and them", when we identify with being a fellow human being all this drops away and we see, as the I-Ching describes it, that we are "all one in our hearts".
Certainly, we seem to be moving towards one language (English) and with the internet we are breaking down physical barriers between us. Ironically business has been a force for good in this. We have been beautifully manipulated by our desire to make money into breaking down barriers and becoming globally interdependent. Our technology in terms of the internet has re-inforced this. Perhaps our approach to the material now needs to shift and our clinging to power in Europe be conceded gracefully in letting go?