Recovery or Uncovery?

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People are talking about economic recovery as if it is inevitable. As if that’s what always happens next.

No, it isn’t.

In fact, there comes a time in the history of every great civilization and economy in history that it does not recover. Some pass slowly, some go fast. Generally speaking the bigger, the bigger they are the harder they fall. But they always fall.

What causes them to fall is varied in terms of triggers, though the underlying beliefs are always at the core failure. Things like “we’re special” or “we won’t run out” or “things will stay the same” or “our gods will protect us from harm”. When those are uncovered and exposed for what they are, beliefs not based in reality, that’s when it all falls apart.

I call it the Uncovery. That’s what brings about the ending.

Now I’m not trying to make anyone scared or depressed. I don’t mean humans will go extinct or that there would be no one left after the Uncovery of our global economic systems. Rome fell, but there were still people there, and there still are today. The Roman Empire is a long time gone though. There are still Mayans by ancestry, but there are is no Mayan government. The Egyptian Civilization that built the pyramids is no more, but Egypt is still a place and people never stopped living there.

So likely there will still be people after our Uncovery, it’s just the cultures and governments and systems and businesses and knowledge and skills that we rely upon will not. For centuries after the Great Roman Empire, humans forgot how to make cement. To this day, we still don’t know quite how those Mayans or Egyptians pulled off that impressive pyramid trick (that was a good one!).

I don’t know that this is our time of great Uncovery. But it certainly could be.

We’re too close to say. Since I was 15 years old, I’ve been convinced it would happen within my lifetime. It’s affected all the decisions I’ve made since, and it’s the main reason why I never had kids. When I look around now, I do happen to think this is the beginning of it — which of course I would, given my deeply entrenched beliefs. So don’t take me too seriously.

I could be wrong, and I desperately hope that I am! Reasonable people can have opinions and agree or disagree about such things.

What we should all agree on is that we have no right to a recovery. It is not an automatic thing, and there’s nothing natural or inevitable about it – quite the opposite, in fact.

If we do get to have a Recovery, let’s thank our lucky stars! And if we don’t, we’ll be in very good company. Every civilization and every economy before this one didn’t bounce back at one point. That fact is, that’s exactly left room for us to grow.

I do have hope for humanity. Our specific interpretation of it, not so much. It’s been a good run.

But it wasn’t really working out so great for everyone here anyway, now was it? Let alone our non-human planetary co-inhabitants. Our fellow lifeforms, their history also shows what it is to expand and contract, to rise and to fall, to explode and to crash. That is the natural way.

What makes us think we’re an exception?

You have thoughts on this topic too, don’t you? Please share them in the comments below.

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