I deal in colors.
If you pass white light through a prism, it splits into a spectrum and truth reveals itself.
The same force is behind many of the world’s evils today and I first heard it uttered in 1999 by Bill Gates.
“In the future,” he said, “No one will own anything. They will rent it.”
I didn’t see how that could be. We were getting rid of Rent To Own Furniture stores and payday loans. We were able to purchase movies and music at cheaper and cheaper prices. What I didn’t put together was how in the future we would fragment ownership up of everything until we were all renters and none of us had a large enough stake to care. And if we did care, none of us had any power to do anything to create change.
We fragmented our power.
We rent apartments. We rent cars. Scooters. We rent services over Task Rabbit. We rent our access to entertainment services. We get our food delivered by intermediaries who are squeezed on both ends. We rent lovers on dating apps. We work freelance. We invest not in businesses but in index funds that spread our voice so thin it has no potency. There’s a market to rent shares in artwork now. We open our relationships to take smaller stakes in their responsibility.* We swallow whole the perverse concept of “self-care.”
What this does is break down power on our end and consolidate it in people and entities who’ve become untouchable.
We only see the fragmented colors cast on a wall. We don’t see the prism and we don’t see the unifying force shone through the prism and fragmented into every aspect of our lives.
It is the nothing. It is nihilism.
It divides us in ways that we think connect us to our own detriment. Our power is in the collective. In the concentration of force by the many. And we soothe ourselves by saying we have no part in the game when we hand over our power willingly. It is always “they” who do the evil and never “us.” We close our eyes, our ears, and our mouths. We numb ourselves and shrug our shoulders and relegate ourselves to moral neutrality.
If you’re in the business of saving souls, you must start with your own. There’s no room for hypocrisy in this battle. That’s step one.
I’m not here to solve the world’s ills. I’m here to point them out and speak the truth. I get to see some of the good I do. It’s wonderful, affirming, and motivating. I also get to feel the intensity of the nilhilism that wraps its gnarly fingers around the good I bring and perverts it. But even from that, good can eventually come.
I’m learning to become a better messenger. I falter. But that doesn’t mean my message is any less true. I have to veer away from vengeance. I must pair truth with clarity, timing, humor, and compassion. I cannot change anyone. I can only stand as a lighthouse with a message so consistent that sailors can navigate their course by its signal.
Love or hate the signal. Ignore it at your own risk. There are perilous rocky shores waiting for vessels along the coastline. I was made to stand testament against them. So I must strive to manage the light.
I just read this op-Ed in Spring 2023 edition of Yes! Magazine about creating community through an alternative to monogamy by Jenn M. Jackson that is in line with what I’m talking about so I want to clarify. Here’s an excerpt: