By Jason Lim

It seems as if everything is going to hell all at once. You have the Russia-Ukraine war, with the always constant threat of a catastrophic nuclear exchange just below the horizon. You have Iranian women and young people violently pushing back against the suffocating rule of a fundamentalist theocracy. You have the Chinese being locked up in their own houses for months at a time, often not able to provide for their basic necessities, at the mercy of a central government hellbent on an unrealistic "zero COVID" policy. In the same country, you have the ongoing suppression and destruction of the Uighur people, which the U.N. documented in its recent report.

You also have the stateless Rohingya refugees, forgotten by the world, eking out an existence in no man's land in Bangladesh, not able to educate their children and give them a future. You have the ongoing military coup d'etat in Myanmar that is brutally suppressing its people and executing democracy activists with seeming impunity. You have Burkina Faso with its second military coup d'etat in less than a year in a country where 2 million citizens have been domestically displaced, fleeing Islamic extremist violence. Then again, you can't ever leave out your friendly neighborhood bogeyman in North Korea who just shot off a few short-range ballistic missiles just for old time's sake.

Should I go on?

Well, if you insist. Who can forget the biblical scale of the flood that inundated one-third of Pakistan about a month ago? I still vividly recall the satellite photo that went viral that shows the unbelievable extent of the flood. Just this week, the southeastern part of the U.S., especially Florida, got slammed by a major Category 4 hurricane, Ian, which decimated large swaths of well-known beach playgrounds. A quick look at the videos shows how ferociously the hurricane made quick work of whatever was standing in its way. They said that Hurricane Ian was a 1-in-a-1,000-years event for parts of Florida, but unfortunately, those statistical hyperboles are quickly turning into cliches in a world where climate change seems inevitable.

Of course, who can forget about the COVID-19 pandemic that has ripped through the world during the last two-plus years? It doesn't take a lot of effort to recall the rows of ice trucks parked on New York City streets with dead bodies overwhelming coroners and funeral homes, which couldn't deal with them. And the fear ― the fear of the invisible killers that overwhelmed normal human sensibilities and the sense of the order that made us feel safe. Even now, Biden declared the pandemic over ― surprising his own senior health advisers ― when around 3,000 people are dying of COVID-19 every week in the U.S. alone. We know that all of this will happen again with a different virus with another sleek acronym fated to be a household name.

These facts are more than enough to make us despair. However, the truth is that this had always been the norm. We have always had wars, pestilence, inequalities, floods, droughts and other forms of ignominy that we were fated to encounter for being a human being on this earth. These were and are just phenomena. When severe enough, these phenomena will trigger a sociopolitical spasm that will usher in a new political dynamic, new epicenter of power, new civilization, new philosophies and new elites that will rise from the warm ashes of the previous ones. It has always been thus in the last 10,000 years of human civilization.

Therefore, it's important to realize that what's happening today is what's always been happening. The key difference, however, is that we know more of what's happening around the world today faster and fuller. Twitter follows the latest advances of the Ukrainian army against the Russians in near real time. We see mangled dead bodies on the sides of the road as twisted heaps of last agonies. Weather reporters brave gale force winds to bring us live videos feeds from the eye of the hurricane, with our eyes hungrily devouring the destruction of cities, towns and villages. Everything has become a reality TV show, live and visceral, that bombards our senses and cognitive bandwidth with more screaming static than we can handle.

It's not that stuff is happening in the world. It's the ubiquitous awareness and ferocious velocity by which we know of the stuff happening in the world. Connectivity and smart phones have turned us all into Professor X cradling his bursting psyche from the screams of all the mutants and humans around the world speaking in tongues inside his head. All suffering. All pleading for help.

Social media has made this much deadlier and piercing by allowing us to dig our own echo chamber of confirmation bias to protect us of the Dolby Surround shrieks and desperately engage in sense making. We are literally injured by the torrent of information. We need to triage ourselves of these injuries to save ourselves. We need quiet and order that allows us to feel safe once more, not realizing that our quiet and order can wreak violence on others. But, in our desperation, to each his own.


Jason Lim (jasonlim@msn.com) is a Washington, D.C.-based expert on innovation, leadership and organizational culture.



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Everything everywhere all at once

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02.10.2022
By Jason Lim

It seems as if everything is going to hell all at once. You have the Russia-Ukraine war, with the always constant threat of a catastrophic nuclear exchange just below the horizon. You have Iranian women and young people violently pushing back against the suffocating rule of a fundamentalist theocracy. You have the Chinese being locked up in their own houses for months at a time, often not able to provide for their basic necessities, at the mercy of a central government hellbent on an unrealistic "zero COVID" policy. In the same country, you have the ongoing suppression and destruction of the Uighur people, which the U.N. documented in its recent report.

You also have the stateless Rohingya refugees, forgotten by the world, eking out an existence in no man's land in Bangladesh, not able to educate their children and give them a future. You have the ongoing military coup d'etat in Myanmar that is brutally suppressing its people and executing democracy activists with seeming impunity. You have Burkina Faso with its second military coup d'etat in less than a year in a country where 2 million citizens have been domestically displaced, fleeing Islamic extremist violence. Then again, you can't ever leave out your friendly neighborhood bogeyman in North Korea who just shot off a few short-range........

© The Korea Times


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