Lifestyle: A new world order – looking after each other and ourselves at the same time

VEvery day I open my facebook page to see people pissing and moaning about our current political system and the terror they are reigning down on us. Don’t get me wrong. It certainly gets me fired up. The resultant shop closures, job losses and yes… homelessness are burdensome on society as a whole. We are all connected and each time one person is left out in the cold, we feel a ripple effect so it’s in all our best interests to look after each other is it not? At the root of yoga, the belief is that we should go one step further and be compassionate to each other, simply for the joy of doing so. But is everyone really doing their bit, even if they do have their own interests at heart?

As awareness of the shortcomings of our political ideologies thus far grows, unrest and anger grows with many feeling powerless to change things. How does one person go about making a stand… changing the system? Easy! The choices we make each day – where we spend our money, how we live, with whom we spend our time, how we earn our income and therefore, to whom we give up our power. With religion no longer working as way of inducing fear, money has replaced it in the system and many will submit to any kind of rule to avoid losing their livelihood. The problem up to now is that we have relied on a small bunch of people who are often out of touch with reality (and that includes members of the labour party) to make decisions on the behalf of the greater whole.

Taking the power into the hands of the people is not necessarily as straightforward as it might sound given that, as my boyfriend pointed out, “Nic, the majority of the population reads The Sun. Do you really want them having a say in how things are done?” My answer is yes, of course everyone should be entitled to feel that they have contributed in some way, that their view counts and that they are included… after all, isn’t it their lack of exposure to the wider world that has lead to issues such as prejudice and discrimination in the first place though that’s not to say that they should necessarily be acted upon.

However, increasingly, we are living in a safer world where the separatist discourse of our world’s governments is beginning to be drowned out by the unified voice of the rest of the planet who demand love, peace and quality of life for the whole. It is becoming evident that previous methods of managing our countries populations – control – are redundant as this unified voice has come together across social networks all over the world, singing the same song.

The V for Vendetta mask used during the Occupy Protests is a symbol of liberal values and revolution has become a metaphor for the unified consciousness as we put differences aside to fight for the greater good. But how do we go about balancing the needs of the individual against those of the wider population? We can’t force everyone to subscribe to the yoga philosophy and quash their dream of owning a lamborghini but we can lead by example and hope that as the old world order collapses, more will follow. Beyond deciding where to buy your groceries from, one of the most powerful ways of making change and positively impacting on the community is to stop expecting the government to solve or social problems and take them into our own hands through charities and businesses.

It’s all very well complaining about the way things are but if we continue to make putting ourselves at centre or our working day in order to get the things we want, we are no better than them. This is where social enterprises and yogis come in. According to buddhism, the only way to release ourselves from suffering is to recognise the impermanency of all things except love and assist in the liberation of all beings since we are all inherently one. In yogic philosophy, we should be making sure our basic needs are met and giving everything else back. How we define basic needs is up for discussion however, bringing Taoism into the equation would lead us to conclude that we should not be putting more than 10 ounces of pressure on life and not bend to more than 10 ounces of pressure back so we should not want so much that it will put so much pressure on society it begins to break.

The social enterprise is as far as I can see, the perfect embodiment of this when run well and ethically. It prevents individuals making huge profits and wealth and spending it stupidly, the needs of all those employed are covered through salaries and the rest can be distributed back to the community with a level of accountability. Run in conjunction with charities, could these not be the way forward?

How those enterprises are run and whether it is based on hierarchy is a whole different story but the ethos behind it is undeniably sound. Should not more new businesses be adopting it? How much does your business do to give back? Where do you put your profit? How different are you from the bankers when it comes down to it really?