Is the quick fix killing us?
Until the capitalistic system emerged which harnessed nature to satisfy unmet human needs, the history of the human race had been a history of poverty and misery. Our current economic system came into being to solve the problem of poverty and now it seems to be returning us to poverty. It is worth understanding why.
At the risk of stating the obvious, our environmental condition is dire, and our institutions, infrastructure, educational system and social system all need serious overhaul. We have less than 40-80 years of topsoil left. How are we going to feed ourselves, let alone the rest of the world? The side effects of relying on unrestrained markets for our economic well-being are destroying us.
The primary value of capitalism is growth, not health. So tradeoffs are made compromising our health in order to promote growth. This compromise occurs in all areas of life: health, infrastructure, social safety nets, environment etc. Capitalism is a short-sighted system.
Take health for example. Although we have health care in the United States, health is not a value that we promote. Many people work ridiculous hours under exceptionally stressful conditions never knowing if or when they will lose our jobs and homes, hanging on by a thread hoping to survive. We eat too much processed food that is a prescription for illness. We medicate ourselves to keep going because often we are afraid not to or don’t know what else to do. Taking care of our health is hopping on a treadmill, popping vitamins and supplements. If it isn’t a quick fix it’s probably not on our agenda.
The Quick Fix Is Pervasive
Unfortunately, our society handles everything this way. Where in our society do we approach our lives in a way to support our long-term health and well-being? Where do we or can we opt for something other than the quick fix? We are so used to the pendulum of crisis and the quick fix that we are often stuck and unable to find other options. We have become a society living off one quick fix after another, without the ability to stop and question the wisdom or consequences of this approach. Our society is like a runaway train.
The quick fix problem did not happen overnight. In fairness, when capitalism came into being the human lifespan was short: 30-40 years. Needs were dire, and natural resources plentiful compared to the number of people on the planet today. Wikipedia estimates that the human population around 1805, close to the beginning of capitalism, was 1 billion and reached 2 billion in 1920. It took another 20 years to reach 3 billion and since then the human population has exploded.
So there are legitimate reasons for the quick fix problems we are facing. It is difficult to keep up in a world of 7 billion people. Dealing with the needs of 7 billion people does not leave a lot of time for long-term strategy. At an individual level it is a little bit easier, but at a systemic level, it is more challenging because one crisis after another will consume time and other resources. In the end, it sucks us all in at one time or another. Over time, all parts of our cultural ecology start to see wear and tear due to the depletion of resources and lack of maintenance.
It does not help that our capitalistic system in its race for the sale demands that everything occurs at breakneck speed. If you are not fast, you are toast! No wonder so many people are stressed, exhausted and depressed. Speed is not known for creating wise decisions or long-term thinking.
Since we support this system that creates solutions for our needs, we have been opting to sacrifice many resources to sustain it: our health, families, communities, and environment. We have sacrificed so much that the entire human and natural ecology is at the point of collapse.
There is a way out of this quick fix mess, a way to get off the runaway train, but it will take a new way of thinking. It will take a holistic perspective, long-term strategies and a willingness to give up the short-term quick fix for the long-term benefit of all. HSPs are perfectly suited for this new way of being and will have a lot to do with leading us to a new way of life.