2014 was a year that humans treated each other horribly. But we continue to treat the natural world even worse. Living Alongside Wildlife has a list of 22 species of animal declared extinct in 2014, extending humanity’s long streak of causing plant and animal extinctions.
Despite all the greed and hatred of the past iterations, no version of the dream had been so mechanical — so dehumanizing — so disconnected from the natural harmony as this current unexamined dream of productivity.
We dream now of making Every Moment Count, of achieving flow and never leaving, creating one project that must be better than the last, of working harder and smarter. We multitask, we update, and we conflate status with long hours worked in no paid overtime systems for the nebulous and fantastic status of being too Important to have Time to Ourselves. This moment’s goal of productivity, with its all-consuming practice and unattainable horizon, is perfect for our current corporate world.
Productivity never asks what it builds, just how much of it can be piled up before we leave or die. It is irrelevant to pleasure. It’s agnostic about the fate of humanity. It’s not even selfish, because production negates the self. In this age of the human robot, of the materialist mind, being efficient took the pre-eminent spot, beyond goodness or power or wisdom or even cruel greed.
Despite having more labor-saving technology than anyone in history, we have made it so we have more to get done than any form of society before us. We even created a social obligation to enjoy ourselves with maximal efficiency, and called it a holiday. To aggregate productivity, and therefore measure all that can be measured and produce a number to rationalize a civilization, numerators must be translated to the same basic unit: revenue. Very roughly, when we do this across a nation, we call the result GDP and use it to measure the health of a society.
Our culture is organized for measured productivity and services. Systemically ‘productivity’ is now valued over life and simple connections. Extraction , production , consumption, and obsolescence for financial gain at any cost, as it is perceived as our security, are the conditioned and habituated blind spot within us. We all have been breastfed to value industry, within and without, before the preciousness of life itself.
Productivity as measured never really told you much about what they call “outcomes.” This is killing us. It’s starving our souls and stunting our intellectual pursuits into ever more stratified vertical slices. We are productive without price. Not because people aren’t dying, they surely are, uncounted lives and families are smothered with despair. There is no price because there’s no measure to quantify what we are losing.
Many people, especially in technology, say their productivity is changing the world, and this is irrefutable. But no one seems to know what they’re changing it into. Wisdom takes time. It takes staring out into the rain, It takes service to others. It takes getting nothing done to make us human again. To see the connections between things requires studying the blank spaces between them, days that slip into boredom and loneliness with only a person and their senses and their imagination to keep them company.
Productivity is the opposite of wisdom. As I began to rest into deep presence I began to notice all that was given by nature. My prior daily busyness was the very VEIL that obscured the forgotten truth of the intricate wisdom in our connected universe.Humanity is a creature of time and imagination. From these things our fruits are born more than manufactured. We should spend more time wasting time. We all need to be bored more. We all need to spend more time looking quizzically at birds we don’t recognize. We all need a little more time to connect the dots and see if they matter.
The Connected Universe Indigo Campaign
Excerpts taken from the article Against Productivity written by Quinn Norton