Our world has reached a point where we, as individuals, have an abundance of options to choose from when it comes to living our lives. The Internet has given us enormous power over what information we have access to. We are now a global society, we can create and reach solutions like never before. But being able to do that doesn’t mean we are actually doing it. Just having all this power is not enough if we don’t know how to use it properly.
For an increasing number of us, this access to collective knowledge and wisdom is becoming more of a burden than a blessing. We have the tools, but we are lacking the practical wisdom for using them. And even though this great power came without any manual or instructions, we are expecting ourselves to already know how to use it. We are expecting the individual to connect to this collective knowledge and figure out by himself the right choices for his life. And when that inevitably fails, sooner or later, we consider that to be due to an individual fault, a mistake of some sort, instead of understanding the whole context in which that failure took place. We seem to be unable to realize that we have the wrong expectations from our tools and ourselves.
If we look deeper into the nature of this problem, we find ourselves in a weird situation, one dominated by confusion. We have access to so much information and diversity of opinions that we perceive our life as too vague and impossible to understand. Most of the time, we feel that no one has the right or true answer for how to live. Therefore, giving advice on life issues is now considered intrusive or even aggressive. We, as a collective, seem to lack a clear direction in which we can move and evolve together.
Realizing all this, what can we do ? We probably agree that blame or shame are not part of the solution. When we look at the issue, we see a collective movement. When we look at ourselves, we see individual actions. Each collective force starts as an individual force that gets more and more momentum until it becomes big enough to create an entire environment in which to propagate itself. We can choose to get involved in building this new force or choose to maintain the existing status quo. Standing on the side or not choosing anything is not a real option. What is not against the status quo becomes part of it and therefore enhances it.
The real challenge is choosing the right direction in which to move together. Both our collective knowledge and the way we use it has to reflect this direction. But first of all, we need to find such a direction for ourselves, as individuals. Only then, we can meet others on the way.
There are times when a leader must move out ahead of the flock, go off in a new direction, confident that he is leading his people the right way.
— Nelson Mandela