2022 – smooth sailing or more of the same?

2022 – smooth sailing or more of the same?

January 23, 2022 0 By Rick

Well, the first month of 2022 is nearly over, and uncertainty abounds. We may be done with the pandemic, but the pandemic isn’t done with us yet. What’s the next Greek letter lurking over the horizon? The world looks as confusing and chaotic – perhaps more so – than in the previous two years. Vaxxers argue with anti-vaxxers, maskers clash with anti-maskers and supply-chain bottlenecks cause shortages almost everywhere in our deeply dysfunctioning economies. We’re stuck in quarantine (albeit with wi-fi, smartphones, streaming, Internet and more). Climate change, instability, military threats and aggression have become the norm. Conflicts between East and West, East and East and West and West are blowing up a geopolitical storm. Never-ending conspiracy theories, political instability, failed nations, the cancel culture, woke warriors, social-media-borne disinformation and the like dominate the ether. The world seems more chaotic and polarized than ever before. A former US President’s statement, “You’re either with us or against us” seems to be the prevailing mindset. Some nations threaten to use force or go to war to protect what they believe is crucial to their survival. Others threaten equally strong countermeasures to force them to back down. Countries are baring their teeth at one another. And the whole thing ends up being a “stalemate.” Surprise, surprise! No wonder we’re in a state of turmoil. Now, more than ever, we’re living in a VUCA (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, Ambiguity) world. Fellow travelers on this journey of life, if you’re wondering about the future and how to live in it with courage and grace, you’re not alone, so don’t despair.  

What’s needed
So, what do we have to do? We’ve got to get real. We’ve got to learn how to handle the triumphs and disasters of our human experience and keep moving forward. We know there are some profound and structural global challenges approaching fast (some are already here). We can’t just cross our fingers and hope that our ship will miraculously right itself. We can’t just hope that whoever’s in charge knows how to pull us out of this quagmire (and more often than not, they don’t)? Do you know why? Because there’s no one behind the curtain. We’re it. There’re no quick fixes, secret sauces, magic pixie dust or silver bullets. Get used to it. We’ve got to do the heavy lifting ourselves. We’ve got to learn how to make sense of the world and how it impacts our lives. We’ve got to learn to discuss and decode current events. We’ve got to be able to resolve any fuzziness and confusion we’ll encounter. We’ve got to be resilient enough to take hits and keep going and sufficiently flexible to adjust to what’s coming next.

Forge a resilient future 
If you’re freaked out, panicking and getting lost in conspiracies and delusions, you’ve got to learn how to make a plan that’s right for you. That’s important because the more freaked out you get, the more tempting it is to latch on to someone, anyone, some theory or any theory offering certainty in a sea of confusion. If you do, you’ll end up floundering in no man’s land between planning a vacation or packing an “oh shit” bag. And that’s just flat-out bad “juju!” You’ve got to learn how to develop hope that’s so durable that it’s not only strong enough for us, but it’s something we can pass on to our families and their families. Speaking of families, 2022 is a big year for my family. My oldest son turns 43 and my youngest son turns 16 and starts high school. My grandson turns seven and my granddaughter turns one. And last but not least, I pass a significant notch in my slide down the razor blade of life; I turn 75. I’ll write more about that in coming posts. So, what can we expect from 2022? Probably more of the same, so we’d better learn how to deal with this new normal. Now more than ever, we need to learn how to forge a resilient future – a future that focuses on understanding what we don’t understand.

Tolerance and understanding
We’re facing a world that’s far different from the one we’ve been accustomed to. But we’ve got the power to understand and solve these problems, many of which are man-made, if we all work together and respect one another. Idries Shah, an Indian-born scholar, author and teacher in the Sufi tradition, wrote in the book Reflections:

“Tolerance and trying to understand others, until recently a luxury, has today become a necessity. This is because: unless we can realize that we and others are generally behaving as we do because of inculcated biases over which we have no control while we imagine that they are our own opinions, we might do something which would bring about the destruction of all of us. Then we will not have any time at all to learn whether tolerance is a good or a bad thing. People cannot handle prejudice because they try to deal with the symptom. Prejudice is the symptom; wrong assumptions are the cause. Prejudice is the daughter of assumption.” Personally, I think he’s spot on. I didn’t write this post to freak people out. I wrote it to get people to think about what needs to be done. If we keep our cool on all fronts and hold a steady course, we might be able to experience fair winds and following seas (an old navy expression) and sail through 2022 safely.