The Great Reset is the era in human history that we entered (or which accelerated) in the COVID-19 pandemic where connection with ourselves, within society, and to the natural environment, and fairness, equity, inclusion and compassion superseded accumulation of material wealth and ‘winning’ as the primary aspiration within societies leading to more balanced and sustainable lifestyles.
On 30 March 2020, as humanity remained naïve to the implications of the newly recognised pandemic from COVID-19, having exhausted myself in attempting to influence Australian national policy to minimise human impacts from the pandemic, and wanting to give a more optimistic glimpse into what could be our future as an aid to get us through the difficult months that lay ahead, I released my essay “The Great Reset“.
I concluded the essay as follows:
Be in no doubt that there will be hard-hearted factions that want things to go back as closely as possible to the inequitable and unfair world that existed before this war [against this novel coronavirus] because that is the game that they know how to win. That is exactly what was occurring in the post-GFC period. There will even be others who want to tilt things further to their advantage. These are the people that like to say that “a good crisis should never be wasted” and you just need to read Elliot Roosevelt’s “How He Saw It” to understand how that occurs.
Ask yourself this: Do we really want to get through all of this hurt, of the realisation that we are all humans, fearing and hurt by the same things, and come out the other side of this battle against COVID-19 to enter into the same petty argument of the reality of the climate change crisis with hard-hearted right wingers behaving petulantly not accepting that they are in the wrong?
If this battle against COVID-19 proves nothings else it shows that all our fates on this beautiful planet are inextricably linked. The only sustainable way forward for humanity is united and time and effort spent moving in the other direction is an utter waste and dangerous to us all.
Let this be the Great Reset that puts humanity back on the track that perhaps the greatest US President ever [FDR] wanted for us all!
In understanding early what were the biological consequences of the emergence of the ‘novel coronavirus’ outbreak due to my professional training as a research scientist in infectious disease and biosecurity, and having also developed a strong and enduring interest in socioeconomics, I foresaw earlier than others that humanity was collectively entering a period of extreme shock that would cause personal pain through all of the main channels in societies.
I was certain in early February 2020 that our world had changed, and I knew that this shock would cause a ‘psychological reset’ within all but the most emotionally repressed so that humanity would be forever changed.
(To underline just how ‘ahead of the curve’ I was, including in comparison to experts who were being referenced at the time, and to counteract hindsight bias, I recommend that the reader consult my comments on these articles at “The Conversation (Australia)” from late February 2020 to be reminded of the context in which I was writing at the time – one article is by a foremost journalist, and another is by experts who have since become household names in the pandemic.)
I developed ‘the Great Reset’ topic into a series of posts on MacroEdgo which includes to this point:
- The Great Reset: Teaching what we left behind
- The Great Reset: A letter to my father and ‘Sliding Doors’ self
- The Great Reset: Momentum builds with the World Economic Forum agenda
- The Great Reset: Building the bridge
- The Great Reset: Humanity demands leaders walk while chewing gum in the 21st century
- Full Thoughts On Prof. Michael Sandel’s Meritocracy Discourse: Part 1
- Full Thoughts On Prof. Michael Sandel’s Meritocracy Discourse: Part 2, which is best read as a whole (following Part 1), but from which I excerpted these 3 key themes:
Beyond these posts, my view that humanity had entered a new era in our collective history catalysed by the COVID-19 pandemic, but not nearly entirely caused by it, is an underlying premise of my writing on MacroEdgo since February 2020.
Specifically I draw attention to my essay “How Might Milton Friedman Respond To The COVID-19 Pandemic” as seminal in highlighting why Western Societies had become primed for this inflexion or paradigm shift.
As I explained in “The Great Reset: Momentum builds with the World Economic Forum agenda“, I have suggested that in the fullness of time this period in human history might best be referred to as ‘the Great Reset’ in the way that ‘the Great Depression’ is used to refer to that historical period. That post is my most thorough description of recent history around the use of the phrase ‘the Great Reset’ with the intention of discussing how I came to use it along with a continuation of my views on the importance of societal progress in a cohesive manner against the divisive forces of Trumpism and other variants of populism.
I should be clear early on that I was very supportive – even flattered – that the World Economic Forum (WEF) adopted ‘The Great Reset’ as the title of their agenda. While I was disappointed to see the extreme left join with the extreme right in rejecting the agenda, due to a suspicion or rejection of capitalism, thus giving the phrase a public relations challenge in its wider adoption, I am deeply respectful of the WEF’s efforts to progress their agenda which is so very similar to that which I and others have espoused.
I have dealt with the concerns of the far left in much of my writing, especially “The Great Reset: Building the bridge” and “Humanity Needs Good People In Tough Jobs“.
In short, the problem is not capitalism itself. The problem is the extreme form of capitalism that we have developed over the last half a century.
Evidence is already mounting that the ‘reset’ that I anticipated is manifesting. Though in societies which have managed to protect themselves from the worst impacts of the pandemic, as in Australia where I have resided through it, the signs are perhaps a little dulled and less perceptible, they are more visible through popular culture channels and the various media feeds from broader humanity.
Having placed myself within the broader context of this new era which I refer to as ‘the Great Reset’, I will now describe what are the signs and themes that I am seeing of this new era unfolding. I will then share my optimistic views on how I believe that these trends are set to broaden and deepen within our societies.
The Great Reset era can be expressed in one word above all others in my view. Connection. Everything else flows from that one character of human existence.
My typical Australian upbringing leaves me uncomfortable with the thought of appearing narcissistic or immodest. Nonetheless, in the 19 months since writing “The Great Reset” I have seen so many signs of that reset in connections within our lives that I have grown even more certain that it is well in progress, and I am growing more optimistic that it will be ‘Great’. What follows is a far from complete list of observations by mentioning key actors in this era and what is their significance.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are major contributors in this space with their willingness to show vulnerability especially on mental health and to speak up strongly on issues of equity and compassion. Their ability to promote their messages is unparalleled with strong links to the most established of ‘influencers’ such as Oprah. Meghan’s children’s book “The Bench” is one very clear example of how they are having long-lasting, positive impacts:
While this poem began as a love letter to my husband and son, I’m encouraged to see that its universal themes of love, representation and inclusivity are resonating with communities everywhere. In many ways, pursuing a more compassionate and equitable world begins with these core values. Equally, to depict another side of masculinity—one grounded in connection, emotion, and softness—is to model a world that so many would like to see for their sons and daughters alike.Meghan Markle, The Duchess of Sussex
I also noted that in an interview discussing the “The Bench” Meghan says “from scraping a knee, to having a heart broken, whatever it is they [father and son] always reset at this bench and have this moment to bond“, the reference to ‘reset’ being both patent and appreciated.
The release of Prince Harry and Oprah’s Apple TV+ production, “The Me You Can’t See”, was an inspiring moment during the depths of the pandemic in the developed northern hemisphere in May 2021, shining a bright spotlight on mental health and trauma. When Prince Harry and Oprah began collaborating on the project in early 2019 they could never have foreseen the circumstances into which it would be released. It’s impact was marked as evidenced by immediate jumps in Apple TV+ subscriptions and viewership revealing the strong desire of audiences to engage with authentic material and especially fellow human beings who have overcome adversities to connect more deeply with themselves and others.
A key feature of being a leading figure in this new era thinking is being singled out by ultraconservative media and Trumpists for being ‘woke’, or well versed in the vernacular of ‘political correctness’, and Prince Harry and Meghan Markle has rapidly become one of – if not ‘the’ – favourite targets for their attacks, which likely has nothing to do with the English royal family into which Prince Harry was born.
In all of my writing about the Great Reset era I have stated that the ultraconservative political apparatus will fight against all of this change, and there is evidence that the trolling against Prince Harry and Meghan Markle is indeed professional and highly targeted.
It is appropriate to state here, also, some very serious concerns. The role that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are playing share many similarities to that of John Lennon and Yoko Ono in a previous era, and it is clear that their views and their ability to get their messages out to broader society greatly threaten very many conservatives. I have no doubt that the security issues involved with protecting this family that especially Harry expressed concern about in his discussion with Oprah are very real.
It is a very great shame that through disappointment with their decision to live their lives in the US the decision was taken by the relevant UK and/or royal authorities to cease their obligation to actively protect this wonderful family that has become so important as a globally uniting force. My greatest fear is that tragedy befalls them and it is only then that high-level royals, UK officials, and the broader UK public realise their error and petty-mindedness.
While the very essence of the Great Reset era is a desire for richer, more fulfilling connection, it is my firm belief that very many of us had been in search of that connection leading up to the COVID-19 pandemic. The search for connection was there upfront and centre in my one and only reality television appearance (filmed in June 2019) where it was the factor that outweighed my desire to buy land with a property in Abruzzo, Italy, instead buying in a village to connect with authentic Italians whose traditional lives highly value social and family connection. In my application to the show I referenced some of the issues that I have now fully disclosed in “How Farmers Lose Their Perspective” and “For A Moment Consider That Meghan Might ‘Complete’ Harry Not Contaminate Him“, and the executive producer pushed for me to open up on these issues on camera. Liz recognised that this search for connection, and the underlying reasons for that search, was extremely topical and thus made me ‘relatable’ to the audience, but I was not ready to do that in such a widely viewed manner. I always felt that her disappointment was in part because she, herself, was searching for some answers.
Of course the pandemic and the measures taken, either by mandate or personally, to minimise the chances of contracting COVID-19 have on the one hand highlighted the necessity for human connection in our lives and on the other exacerbated the thirst for that connection.
Much of the discourse around connection does relate specifically to male connection, either males searching for that connection, or the consequences of males not having quality connections.
Male connection has provided a deep but rich vein of emotion for artists to tap into over the years, with some of the more memorable classic songs of the last half century being focused especially on the challenges fathers and sons can face in forming strong and enduring connection. Songs like “Cat’s in the Cradle” by Harry Chapin and “The Living Years” by Mike and The Mechanics tap into the feelings of sadness and loss from inadequate and/or partially fulfilled father-son connections.
Popular anglosphere culture has often, in the past, shone a spotlight on these challenges with comedy. Most of this, however, suggest that these challenges are almost inevitable and that it is ‘normal’ within society to have difficult or largely unsupportive relationships with our most important male mentors during and after our teenage years. In doing so it was almost accepted that this is an issue within society that has no real solution.
Young men were in effect told by society to “harden up” and move on with their lives. And for several generations we did, with the consequences showing up in various ways including what and how young men drive and in other ways in which many young men behave in society.
It is no exaggeration to say that this issue is at the very heart of many of the major issues that Western societies confront today with the hurt and anger that many young men carry – after having suppressed it in relation to its primary cause – expressed in anti-social behaviours leading to movements especially by women and/or minorities such as Black Lives Matter and #MeToo, standing against all forms of racism (overt, covert and systemic), gendered violence, sexual and other forms of harassment, bullying and prejudice.
Here I need to be clear that it is in no way just Caucasian men behaving badly as there have certainly been examples of anger and entitlement expressed in divisive and dangerous ways by others. And I do not infer that inadequate male connection – to males, females and others on the gender spectrum – is the only source of this anger. I do feel comfortable in saying, however, that it is a very significant part of the problem.
That is where societal leaders, especially many from the arts community, have leaned into our collective longing for human connection, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, by confronting the long-time taboo – soft masculinity – to progress society in the Great Reset era.
I have already mentioned Meghan Markle’s wonderful involvement here, but Prince Harry’s open discussion of his issues with his father – the Prince of Wales, first in line to the throne of England – in his interview with Oprah and elsewhere, has been equally important because it underlines how these challenges can exist for all no matter how privileged their upbringing. Moreover, a consistent theme for Prince Harry is talking about the need to end cycles of trauma to the benefit of the next generation, which is something that I believe drives most men who are speaking up on these issues (and certainly was for me in my writing on the subject including in “How I Re-made Myself After A Breakdown“, “How Farmers Lose Their Perspective“, “For The Sons Of Deeply Insecure Men“, as well as other essays).
Speaking for myself, I never thought that I would open up as I have while my father was still with us. A few factors came into play including a perception that he had felt increasingly conflicted in recent years between the common perceptions of his contemporaries in his community (where I was raised), and being amplified by right wing media and politicians which promote narrow-mindedness and divisiveness, and the more progressive ideals by which I and my family live – and he ultimately chose to be intolerant of us. The final straw came when he said to me “Who would want to live next door to Indians!” Besides the unadulterated racism inherent in the statement, it is a clear expression of unease with being seen with my family since my wife is of Sri Lankan decent, our sons’ first names are from her cultural background, and they are commonly confused for being of Indian heritage.
His choice there broke a lot of loyalty and released me from the guilt that I would have otherwise felt to discuss our complicated and painful history.
More importantly, however, I have been a leader in my community as a stay at home Dad, and being inspired by other men who have found the courage to speak up courageously about what it really is to be a male and father in this modern world, I wanted to share my experiences and thoughts so that I could help others and ultimately my own sons to be freed to be fully and authentically who they are, not just by their upbringing, but within broader society.
Nothing that I have said or done is out of anger for my father. While I cannot deny that I harbour anger and hurt at things that have been said and done, I have spoken up in the hope that it helps humanity to progress to a better place so that boys and men can be released from this cycle of pain from unmet emotional needs and the trauma that sometimes occurs as a consequence of it. I love my father and will always acknowledge that he did the job that he was capable of doing in raising me with the limited toolset he had (I have also acknowledged in my writing why he had that limited toolset). And while I have challenged myself to be a better father to my sons than he was to me, and I am proud in the belief that I achieved that, I have also challenged my own sons to be determined to continue on that improvement if and when they are privileged to be a Dad.
The eagerness of men to open up and show vulnerability, in no small part inspired by the work of Brenè Brown, and talk about the biggest taboo subject there is for men of previous generations – their relationships with other men, and especially their male role models, usually father-figures, has been truly inspiring. Besides Prince Harry I would make notable mention of the podcast by President Barrack Obama and Bruce Springsteen who had a fascinating discussion on their very challenging relationships with their fathers. Both men gave generous and rich insights into the challenges that young men can experience in overcoming trauma that can stem from those dysfunctional and/or absent connections by opening up about their own experiences.
In Australia, and of particular note for its relevance to indigenous men, the book “Dear Son” by Thomas Mayer is a critical resource in this new era. “Dear Son: Letters and reflections from First Nations men and sons” is a collection of heart-felt, moving and incredibly insightful letters written by the broad assemblage of men for their own sons. I was struck by the similarities between mine and Thomas’ story, in particular, and I confess I read only a few paragraphs before needing to put it down for a while because it cut so close to my own experiences. It showed me that regardless of our cultural experiences – me from a Caucasian colonialist background, him from a dispossessed custodian indigenous background – that the challenges of connecting with our most important male mentors transcends culture especially when living in modern colonialist nations.
Writing in Australia other notable mentions of men displaying the courage to be vulnerable and express their full authentic self, sometimes in contrast with common perception or against societal expectations, I would list the withdrawal from Masterchef Australia season 13 by Brent Draper on mental health grounds, and the honest and very open way Luc Longley engaged with the “Australian Story” piece after his role in the success of his NBA team the Chicago Bulls was omitted from the Michael Jordon documentary “The Last Dance”. Luc actually discussed pulling out of the project because he was afraid that he might be seen by the public (and possibly past teammates) as a ‘7 foot sook’.
This on the one hand highlights the impediments that men, in this case Australian men, have placed in front of each other to open up and reveal their honest and deep feelings. On the other hand, that he had the courage to face down those fears and reveal his true self Luc played a very important role in allowing other young men to be their full authentic selves openly and proudly.
Personally I find it especially gratifying when physically large men, or men superficially assumed within society to be hyper masculine due to their achievements in sports or otherwise, display the courage to openly express their vulnerability and the full range of human emotions to broad audiences. When this occurs the impacts in breaking down stereotypes are extremely significant.
In sharp contrast, when we see glimpses of outdated male stereotyping, they now jar more than ever before. As one example I was appalled watching a Foxsports show on rugby league when one of the main male hosts disagreed with an English player being released from his contract on emotional grounds with especially his fiancé struggling with homesickness. She was pregnant with their first baby and it was their second year away from home, not to mention the extra stresses as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic. The host’s strenuous objection was that this young man should place the team’s success at a higher priority than the wellbeing of himself and his fiancé, and of his relationship and thus family.
It is this inability to empathise – and the pressure placed on young men to conform with that culture and continue that cycle – that is at the heart of this issue over male vulnerability and emotional repression.
I can not say it any better than this from “For The Sons Of Deeply Insecure Men“.
The more we acknowledge our truths as individuals and across broader society the more we free ourselves from our histories and the more light we let into our souls. We become receptive to deep and authentic connection with others, in doing so becoming better people, better friends, better partners, better parents, better leaders, and better contributors to communities.
When I think of my Dad it is easy to see how challenging and frightening that seems to those who have lived a life suppressing emotion. In saying that I am also seeing in my mind’s eye a slide show of especially middle-aged men from the conservative side of the political divide. It is ironic that those who cultivate an image of rugged masculinity and toughness are in fact putting up a protective barrier and are afraid of what should be the least threatening things in life – themselves, their own thoughts and feelings, and the people around them who want to give them love and light.
Indeed these people are worthy of our compassion and understanding, but also our firm assertion that inappropriate behaviour and faulty thinking springing from their fears and misperceptions will no longer be tolerated. Humanity has either run out of time or progressed to the point where it is entirely unacceptable.
Now in the Great Reset era we are forging ahead to a better, fairer, more inclusive world. There is nothing to be afraid of and there is much to be optimistic about even if we face many challenges especially in addressing the climate crisis.
We have relearned through the pandemic that we feel safest and grounded when closely connected with our communities.
We want to cross that bridge together to a brighter future. Humanity has good people in tough jobs and the bridge is broad and stout.
None of us wants to leave anybody behind.
That we have angry young men speeding around our streets in never off road 4x4s, harassing others and driving so irresponsibly as to risk their own and others’ lives, committing road rage and so on; requiring courses on how to respect others and especially to understand what is consent; are all symptoms of a lack of connection with society by some of our young men. They have been taught and partly had role modelled to them a way of life that probably never really existed – a mythical time when “men were men” and women, who mostly had no control in the matter, accepted that behaviour as true to their male gender.
Now living in highly organised societies, often cities, where we each perform only a few specific roles required for our collective survival, the majority of young men have nowhere to put to productive use their strength and aggression which once was so vital in protecting our family and small community groups from physical threats (such as from sabre toothed tigers or aggressive neighbouring tribes). In many societies stories of risk taking, larger than life virile male characters of yesteryear often capture the imaginations of especially these young men as an indication of their vestigial potential value to society in certain circumstances. But in contemporary life in developed nations such circumstances are atypical and rare.
There will always be a role for young men to play very physical and aggressive sports as a primordial throwback to when the most powerful and courageous within society competed as a show of political power and for training for actual conflict to protect or expand resources, for a public which appreciates these attributes and associated skills. Similarly nations will always maintain armed forces capable of defending geopolitical interests and, unfortunately still too often, used to project political power and interests abroad. However, even there gender equality has opened up these arenas to all. And for the great majority of young men outside of these roles, the only real way to deal with this long lost role – much to the relief of many parents and broader society – is the redefining of the perception of male’s contribution to society. It is, in fact, a revision of perception above all else because it is in reality an honest re-emphasising of what has always been a significant part of the male contributions to cohesive societies through the ages as aggression and antisocial behaviour within societies is clearly disadvantageous.
Even in contemporary societies the overflow of aggression and other forms of anti-social behaviour from the minority of men professionally engaged in sports or in the defense forces out into broader society is an issue which raises its head from time to time, re-highlighting the need for programs to ensure they understand and respect the boundaries that societies expect of them as on the one hand privileged and on the other hand role models to the very young.
In many ways the imagery around risk-taking and aggressive behaviour is cherry-picking from human history and has been an unhelpful ‘marketing strategy’ to our young men which has added to their confusion over their role in modern societies.
The more popular culture and role models within it display the more common male character of soft masculinity the better off will be our societies and broader humanity. Young men, especially, will benefit enormously by being freed to experience and express, and thus most importantly process, the full range of innate human emotions.
Of course it is the emotionally repressed male role models, made increasingly anxious by their isolation – I first jarringly heard the now oft repeated assertion that “there is no ‘species’ more threatened than the middle-aged white male” from an academic mentor 30 years ago – who remain the greatest stumbling blocks to progress in this area.
I would suggest that their increasing assertiveness is in part a reflection that they know in their deepest recesses that in the Great Reset era they are no more likely to hold back this progress by and for young men then they are to hold back the tide.
I cannot leave this section on male connection without a mention of two of my family’s favourite pandemic entertainment binges – “Ted Lasso” and “Schitt’s Creek” – the former a new production on Apple TV+ released during the COVID-19 pandemic, the latter’s finale airing on CBC Television at the commencement of the pandemic. Both are ground-breaking exposes into human connection: “Ted Lasso” especially exploring father-son connection and pushing boundaries on expression of male vulnerability and racial inclusion; and “Schitt’s Creek” pushing boundaries on class and sexual orientation, and will be long remembered for their brilliant writing and acting which brought male same-sex relationships closer to mainstream audiences. The issues that “Ted Lasso” brought to the fore, in season 2, around the suicide of Ted’s father when he was 16 cut especially close for me.
With connection being the overriding issue in this new era, it is little wonder that many are reflecting deeply on how we make connections and what impedes our ability to connect.
Still early in the Great Reset era, much attention has focused on the changing attitudes and preferences of employees, with employment being a key mediator of connection within society (as both an enabler and a deterrent). The phenomenon has been given a title, a derivation from my name for the new era, ‘the Great Resignation‘. Presently there is much discussion about this trend and many are closely observing how employees and employers each negotiate this new era.
Former US Labor Department Chief Economist Betsy Stevenson was early to spot the employee changed behaviour in an interview on Bloomberg Television in June 2021. Dr Steveson referred to it as a ‘Great Rethinking’ and she summed up the psychological basis of it being in what I originally described as ‘the Great Reset’ saying “we all have had this great big shock, the pandemic, which has caused us all to question what it is we do with our lives“.
As discussed in “The Great Reset Era Theme: Investing in family and community connection“, excerpted from “Full Thoughts On Prof. Michael Sandel’s Meritocracy Discourse: Part 2“, a typical fulltime employee in most developed nations gives (more accurately sells) over 40 hours of their time to their employer of all but a few weeks every year, and that time had been creeping upwards in many societies leading into the pandemic. However they give more than that. With ubiquitous electronic communication, and allowing for time doing tasks required to perform work (grooming and travelling), it is clear that fulltime employees were giving an extremely high proportion of their quality energy to perform paid employment.
The change in routines to home-based working through to periods spent unemployed, to time spent together in safe family and social bubbles or attempting to connect via modern technologies, together with the tragedy of much loss at the personal and societal level, naturally caused a reset of attitudes towards employment. Those reflections are based on some very basic questions: what do I get out of work, what of that really means something to me and people I care about, and what do I lose out of work. It appears that many having undertaken that reflection have decided that their work-life tradeoff was not balanced before the pandemic, or that it could be better balanced, and they are taking action. Businesses that want to be seen as good employers, to create safe and healthy work environments out of social responsibility, and as a competitive advantage to hire who they consider the best employees, have observed these developments closely and are modifying their practices and culture to accommodate these changed attitudes.
That ‘the Great Resignation’ ultimately relates to connection is explained well in a podcast by Russell Brand where he finds much common ground with my writing at MacroEdgo including the senseless use of income on consumerism.
To be absolutely clear, I do not for a moment suggest that prior to the pandemic what I describe as extreme capitalism had totally reversed all of the employee protections hard-won over the previous century. Neither do I suggest that the imbalances were entirely the cause of employers or executives within organisations. It is clear in my writing that I recognised that the balance that was the lived experience of many employees was in large part voluntary as an expression of competing in an albeit imperfect meritocracy and their aspiring to ‘win’ or succeed as a means of building self-esteem and to strengthen personal identity.
Demonstrating how these issues are entwined and interdependent, the issue of identity and self esteem for many relates ultimately to gender stereotypes including around paid and unpaid work. During the pandemic a spotlight was shone on the roles played in households and families and how much of that unfairly remains based in outdated gender stereotypes. It became apparent that over recent decades as more households moved to dual-incomes as mothers’ in traditional nuclear families increasingly became fulltime employees, their roles within the home did not shrink commensurately. As the unfairness of this situation was highlighted through the pandemic, with men especially pressured to take on more of roles which were considered non-traditional for their gender, this again raised the shackles of conservatives who argued strongly for traditional gender roles to be maintained.
The discourse hit a low point when a conservative venture capitalist said, in response to comments about senior US civil servant Pete Buttigieg taking paternity leave, that he viewed any male “in an important position” who took 6 months off from their careers for parenting as a loser. His justification for the view:
In the old days men had babies and worked harder to provide for their future – that’s the correct masculine response.
The ill-considered interjection by this conservative, attempting to create yet more division or polarisation by appealing to conservatives to stand up on such issues, highlighted for many just how unreasonable and unhelpful to our societies are such outdated attitudes based on gender stereotyping. This is an example of how poor role modelling can do as much for achieving progress on an issue as positive role modelling can because the toxicity inherent in the statement is patent and appeals only to those with already extreme views.
The upshot may well be that many more males, who traditionally have not made full use of leave entitlements for caring for partners and family, or generally to enhance their connections, take greater advantage of these employment conditions as well as ceasing to pressure peers from doing so.
Writing in Australia I absolutely must make mention of two personal heroes in Grace Tame and Brittany Higgins who in a broader discussion might be included under the umbrella of the #Metoo movement. Both women have been incredibly strong leaders, while showing their natural vulnerability, in standing against gendered violence. I can not express in words fully just how inspiring and impressive I have found these young women. Grace Tame, by virtue of the platform afforded by being Australian of the Year 2021, has had the opportunity to expound on her thoughts and opinions more broadly and at times has articulated the underlying principles of the new era with clarity and great conviction.
This is also an opportune moment to point out that a writer in a different geography, with different local issues in recent years, would point to the same overarching themes while highlighting other local heroes. It would also be remiss of me as, as a resident of the traditional lands of the Turrbal and Jagera people, not to mention the critical activism by many indigenous leaders and victim families in Australia for justice for aboriginal deaths in custody, which might be included under the Black Lives Matter umbrella, but which has a long and unique history of fighting for justice.
In doing so I must also acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the land I and my family live and work, and of the many different nations across the wider Brisbane south region. We pay our respects to the Elders, past, present and emerging as the holders of the memories, the traditions, the culture and the spiritual wellbeing of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples across the nation.
Key to connecting with ourselves and others is occupying at a minimum conducive, and preferably highly supportive, environments for living our lives. Even above man-made environments, healthy natural environments are critical as they are the primary sources of most of the necessities of human life. What is more, the COVID-19 pandemic highlights how even with contemporary science we are not yet transformed into post-biologic beings, meaning that we are susceptible to all of the biological hazards that afflict other species. In fact we are accelerating interactions by virtue of our exploitation of the natural resources and that puts us at increasing risk.
In “The Great Reset” I concentrated heavily on humanity uniting to address the biggest overriding crisis – climate change – and perhaps the reader might be surprised that I have not discussed it earlier in this essay. The emphasis in that statement highlights the reason, that an effective response is only possible by humans connecting more deeply and authentically with each other, as I also explained in “Social Cohesion: The best vaccine against crises“, so the first priority has to be on how that connection to each other is strengthened.
Climate scientists are obviously important actors in the Great Reset era because, having already alerted humanity to the crisis through diligent research and robust, well reasoned debate, they hold much of the collective wisdom on what must be done to escape catastrophic consequences. However, bringing people together is now what is really important and again the ultraconservative attack dogs have fired the flare to signal who are the key actors – Greta Thunberg and other young people who are increasingly concerned for their futures.
I am in no doubt that humanity does have many good people in tough jobs ready to pull together to do the work for humanity to place our natural world on a path to sustainability, but it is the strength of our connections that will provide the necessary political backdrop and thus determine our success.
I must mention one more personal hero. I released “The Great Reset: Building the bridge” on 2 January 2021, a few days before the insurgent attack on the capitol which was when Amanda Gorman completed her poem “The Hill We Climb” for the inauguration of President Biden. I was mesmerised by Amanda’s performance and her words, and it immediately occurred to me that perhaps her mention of the bridge may have been a reference to my post from a few days earlier, but I guess I will never know.
If we’re to live up to our own time, then victory won’t lie in the blade, but in all the bridges we’ve made.“The Hill We Climb” by Amanda Gorman
I readily admit that my writing is not widely read – that is apparent whenever I view my site logs – but my aim never was to be immediately widely read, nor to monetise my writing. That is not necessary to make the impact I hope.
It is far more important to be read by the right people at the right time.
The final group of critical actors in how ‘the Great Reset’ era progresses are those who shape our next generations – parents and the various mentors of young people – who play the most active and important roles in shaping the attitudes of our next generations. In my view there is a growing understanding of how important we are in providing a better way forward to the young people who are in our care, and thus our responsibility to shape the environment which they inhabit and their attitudes.
While this might seem an obvious and odd statement to the contemporary reader, it is a vital factor because it is a departure from earlier generations of parents and mentors who really did not give a great deal of thought to what are their roles and how they should self-monitor their ‘performance’ (for want of a better word, as ‘success’ would read even worse through the modern competitive ‘lens’). They saw their roles in a more perfunctory context – the primary carer, usually mother, made sure the children were well fed and maintained their health and administered their home environment to the fullest, while the ‘bread winner’ was usually the father and his main responsibility was earning the income to provide for those conditions in the most stable and surest fashion possible. They essentially aimed to raise their children as their parents raised them.
This progression can be explained by the changes usually observed in societies as they develop economically and typically the number of children in families fall. When a family is made up of 13 children as my great Grandparents’ was, and conditions were such that some would perish early in their lives, or even as my Grandparents’ with 7 children, and they worked in the fields from daylight to dark to survive, it is hardly surprising that they gave little thought to how any one particular child was feeling emotionally. Neither is it surprising that children raised in those conditions with those role models would parent similarly.
That is why, I contend based on my own experiences and observations, that most in my parent’s generation did not give thought to how well they parented beyond those perfunctory parameters. Certainly they cared whether children were happy or not, but they saw that solutions to any problems lay fully within that context. Emotional intelligence no doubt varied amongst parents, but as a concept valuable in parenting it was years away from being understood or appreciated.
Nowadays we do give a great deal of thought to all of these issues. And we place pressure on ourselves to do the best possible job we can as parents and continually monitor – often judging ourselves too harshly – on how well we are doing at it. Collectively as a generation of mentors we aim to improve on the foundations our own mentors gave us, if not because they were deficient or dysfunctional, as surely they were in some cases as discussed above, but because we have a far greater appreciation of the speed of human progress and that it requires our young people to progress with it.
That we want better for our children and young people means that we continue to challenge those who say that conditions were better in the past while providing spurious and/or harsh and non-inclusive examples.
That is exactly why conservatives harking back to times of intolerance and gender stereotyping is futile.
I sincerely sympathise with emotionally repressed people. I have observed and felt the consequences of emotional repression, and I understand how a ‘Sliding Doors’ moment saved me to an unknowable degree from such a fate.
In the family into which I was born emotions are very repressed and unexpressed. Telling another family member that you love them remains challenging because through our long history placing ourselves in such a vulnerable position was unrewarded or worse still, repulsed because of the awkwardness of dealing with emotions. Resetting these life-long relationships requires such a deep connection that it rarely happens outside of the most significant of psychological shocks that we humans experience which break through those barriers that we have erected from our earliest experiences to protected ourselves from emotional pain.
If that shock ever comes, more often than not it is in the final moments of life, and that is why these stories resonate and speak to us at such a deeply personal level.
I do not expect that everybody will achieve that emotional reset in this lifetime, not by a long stretch. However, the more that these issues are discussed – and they really are being discussed a lot now – the more those who carry emotional scarring from trauma and injuries caused by emotionally barren connection with our most important mentors acknowledge it, and the greater the desire within society to break the cycle of repeating those unhealthy behaviours.
Absent a serious psychological disturbance or abnormality, it is much less likely that any child, irrespective of gender, given unconditional love from mentors throughout their lives, goes on as an adult to hate or exhibit highly anti-social behaviour, or be susceptible to radicalisation by others.
It is this desire in contemporary parents (and other mentors) to improve that makes them open to the changes underway in the Great Reset era, and will play a part in them searching for better work-like balance through to being more open than previous generations to the broad spectrum of the human condition, helping this and subsequent generations to be the most connected and cohesive in human history.
The Great Reset era, in my conceptualisation of it, is not in any way a ‘movement’ or a strategic plan by one or several human beings to change the world, and here I should admit that in my first essay – “The Great Reset” – I could have been clearer on that. In my defense rather a lot was happening at the time. Moreover I concede that the (well-meaning) adoption of the phrase by the WEF for their agenda did lead to a public relations campaign against it by the conspiracy theorist ultraconservatives and far left united in their distrust of ‘elites’.
My writing on the Great Reset era recognises that at the commencement of the COVID-19 pandemic humanity was due, in fact overdue, for a change in course because a multitude of factors had coalesced to make it inevitable. The pandemic was the catalyst that caused that to occur, and that shock to societies being so severe ensured the change of course was stark. In fact a reset. Because humanity will never truly go back to the way we were pre-pandemic, the reset is irreversible.
That is normal human progress. We never can go back to exactly the way things were in the past no matter how fondly we remember it, often inaccurately or incompletely through ‘rose-tinted glasses’. The optimist relishes the truth that change is inevitable, always seeking to make progress and improvements. More commonly, however, people become anxious at the uncertainty that change brings, and with fear of loss well known to be a stronger motivator for action, we are susceptible to manipulation for political advantage.
My challenge to broad humanity that I laid out in my essay “The Great Reset” was to collectively work towards making the ‘Reset‘ which was certain to occur – the new era – ‘Great‘ by adopting the best possible path to improve the lives of all living and future human beings.
The inexorable creep of the extreme form of capitalism being practised in the first two decades of the new millennium, the roots of which had extended so deeply in our Western societies that both the left and right of the mainstream polity had accepted it as the ultimate form of social organisation, had created an ill-feeling in many who had suffered due to inequity and the harsh consequences of finding themselves on the wrong side of market developments. I suspect that malcontent even extended to many of the ‘winners’ it had created who, if they did not feel guilty about the inequity they were party to, perhaps had (repressed) guilt to those close to them for the consequences of their behaviour necessary to hold a disproportionate share of the assets on the monopoly board.
As I write still less than 2 years into this new era, if indeed historians ultimately time its commencement at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, I am heartened by the changes already amongst our societies along the lines that I had expected and hoped.
As would be expected in a psychological ‘reset’ catalysed by a major global humanitarian shock, the COVID-19 pandemic, the degree of societal change manifested in our societies appears roughly proportional to the human impacts from the pandemic in those societies. The degree to which societies were primed for change by the adoption of extreme capitalism expressed especially in inequality and disadvantage, in itself directly proportional to human impacts from the pandemic, is also likely determinant of the rate and degree of societal change.
As is now characteristic of this globalised world, these trends are already spreading globally rapidly as the main centres and producers of popular culture have been some of the worst affected areas in the pandemic and had developed the most extreme forms of capitalism (i.e. greater inequality and lesser social benefits resulting in precarity). In fact, in Western nations extreme capitalism predisposed them to even greater impacts from the pandemic not just in the societal inequality leaving the many disadvantaged vulnerable, but the extreme capitalists rallied against measures to protect society from the worst impacts of the pandemic such as social isolation measures and even wearing of face masks.
Ironically, to the extent that extreme capitalists were successful in minimising measures to lessen the human impacts from the pandemic they sewed the seeds of discord by proving how modern – i.e. extreme – capitalism fails the majority in society.
This is the interesting juxtaposition that China is keen to show their own population as well as the non-Western nations who they vie against Western allies for hearts and minds for global influence and future geopolitical power. (It is also my greatest miscalculation in this pandemic which reveals my own bias to Western nations being ‘good’ and righteous even if I consider myself lucid enough to acknowledge some of our previous wrongdoings). The clear conclusion is that in their callous short-sightedness these hard-hearted right winger ultraconservatives really did weaken themselves substantially as many of these conspiracists rope in the threat from authoritarianism into their extraordinarily convoluted theories, and their fight for individual liberties in the pandemic – essentially for the right to increase the chances of contracting COVID-19 and thus dying – strengthened the position of the main global authoritarian Government that these individuals feel threatened by – the Communist Party of China (CCP).
That is the nature of conspiracy theory – all emotion and no logic – which reminds me of Voltaire’s “The Story of The Good Brahmin“:
I would not care to be happy at the price of being a simpleton… “that we must choose not to have common sense, however little common sense may contribute to our discomfort.” Everyone agreed with me, but I found nobody, notwithstanding, who was willing to accept the bargain of becoming a simpleton in order to become contented. From which I conclude that if we consider the question of happiness we must consider still more the question of reason.
The problem, of course, now, is that those lacking the wisdom to discern between legitimate and fallacious sources of fact and honesty are no longer contented, due to that extreme inequity in societies where they have been led to believe that they could or should have enjoyed a higher standard of living, and thus they consider themselves ‘philosophers’ and wiser than others and are emboldened by social media.
(I must confess that I deliberated on omitting the above, to be more generous in my thinking, and conscious of my own biases, but then I just cannot cease returning to the thought that anybody who could be led to believe that 5G is spreading a pandemic virus, or that vaccines contain microchips, or that some past US presidents drink blood of children, can only be described as displaying simple-mindedness. That is neither radical or unfair to them, let’s not be ‘politically correct’ about that!)
Recently I discussed that fascinating contradiction with a migrant friend from a developing nation in the middle-east who had observed that Australians appeared so very stressed in comparison with people of his home nation even though the appreciably higher standard of living afforded by our more structured society based on democracy and the rule of law suggested a higher level of contentment and satisifaction would be normal.
Dissatisfaction comes not just from inequality but from unmet expectations of equality, or even (maintained) privilege, in outcomes.
This leads onto the discourse on meritocracy, but I will not go down that ‘chute‘ here again, sufficing to say that I consider Prof. Michael Sandel‘s contribution highly significant.
Reading my favourite blog ExUrbe it is patent just how far humanity has come in 500 years from the environment that Machiavelli wrote his political science treatise, “The Prince“. The world is more connected and so friction points are on a grander scale rather than between the city states of that time, and even go well beyond the earlier ambitions of Alexander the Great or the Roman empire, and even the major global conflicts of last century in World War I and II.
Those who believe, however, that we have arrived at a point in human history where there is a single mastermind or organisation of masterminds that have hatched a plan for global domination is suggestive of someone who has read or watched way too much dystopian science fiction for their own mental wellbeing.
Ada Palmer of ExUrbe penned a brilliant article on who has the power to change the world in a robust historical perspective. While there is no doubt that highly dispersed, individualised/tailored and targeted (social) media does allow for broader manipulation by powerful people, and I myself have talked about the political apparatus that supports extreme capitalism (or neoliberalism), individuals have far more power to effect change than readers of these conspiracy theories believe.
In actuality their own mobilisation proves that point, but what they fail to understand is that their efforts are not broadly supported because the general public has far greater common sense than these ‘protesters’ perceive. One need only consider the overwhelming support within society for measures to protect them from the ravages of the pandemic. Yes, it is easy to notice the few non-mask wearing shoppers and the noisy protests in a city concerned about the spread of a virus, but that ignores the reality that the overwhelming majority have complied with the measures so much so that leaders supporting the toughest measures are most popular (why even our own Prime Minister Morrison was supporting rapid lockdowns until recently).
In “How Society Will Change If A COVID-19 Vaccine Is Elusive” published July 2020 I wrote:
“The Great Reset”… has already begun and it is irreversible.
High quality, effective leadership will nurture it so that the best outcomes are realised to the benefit of humanity. Scoundrels will try to harness it to bend society to a more warped and less inclusive version. We all must show leadership and engage with the process to achieve the best outcome for ourselves and those we love, and those who succeed us. And we should all prepare to be flexible and supple in thought to make the best decisions that we can with the information that we have as we emerge from the shock of our altered existence [from the COVID-19 pandemic] and as our future comes into clearer focus.”
As I have demonstrated in this essay, that we have entered a new era has become more clear through the pandemic, and the ‘tussle’ for hearts and minds within societies is as intense as I predicted. The Great Reset era, as I began describing it right back in March 2020, certainly has arrived. However, as I have said in all of my writing, that it was inevitable and it is irreversible does not mean that it’s progress is preordained or predetermined. Circumstances made humanity conducive to reflection on our existence, but our path through the Great Reset era will be determined by us all. How we each individually and collectively piece together our thoughts on what is most important to us and those we care most about will be the greatest determinant of the direction our societies take.
For those with powerlust, often harnessing forces at the political extremes, there is much at stake.
It is very clear that ultraconservatives are attempting to bend the curve of the Great Reset era to yield a version of society which conforms with their views, in many ways a return to a perceived better time which, even for them, likely was not matched in reality, and which definitely was not for many including the majority of women and minorities. Those ultraconservatives suggest it is them that is ‘under attack’ from the left, and they are using the discontent and anger of especially lower and middle-class conservative men as a political force, made clear, for example, in this speech by a future conservative presidential aspirant. Cleverly this political apparatus highlights real concerns – addressed also in much of my writing here at MacroEdgo – but does not address the real issues, instead scapegoating others within society and suggesting that the answer is to go back to the conditions which existed before societal progress had eroded some of their privilege.
As is typical of political operatives throughout human history, those within this apparatus do not really care about these people, they simply wish to harness their anger and resentment to achieve power for themselves.
How do I know they do not care? If they did care they would present real solutions to the issues that can be addressed in a modern society. By scapegoating globalisation and civil rights/equal opportunity movements they dog whistle an enthnonationalistic anthem which leads to entirely inappropriate and unrealistic political strategy (I won’t describe it as outdated because even though it does hark back to a reality for many nations, it never was appropriate). Worse still, their divisive agenda is counterproductive to all of the major issues humanity confronts, as I explained in “Social Cohesion Is The Best Vaccine Against Crises” published 3 February 2020 (encompassing my first public discussion of extreme concerns about ‘novel coronavirus’):
it is when we face collective crises that we truly know that we are united together as human beings against our greatest challenges. Please let this be a lesson that we can hold onto and move forward together before we damage ourselves and our wonderful planet to a point where all of the progress of the last century is lost.
The preface to “The Great Reset” published 30 March 2020 opened with:
This is a post of hope. Of promise. Of potential within our grasp if we have the courage to reach for it.
I wrote those words when I had known for almost 2 months that humanity faced an enormous challenge with the emergence of a novel coronavirus, and had begun to process what that meant for myself and those I care about, but while the majority of humanity remained naïve to the threat. My aim was to offer optimism through what I knew would be a dark moment in human history.
Since writing those words we have all witnessed changes within our societies that nobody of a sound a mind would have predicted as 2019 drew to a close. Over the last year and a half, as I briskly walked through a shopping centre in Brisbane, Australia, wearing a face mask and observing the extremely high compliance by others, I have occasionally caught myself imagining what it would have been like to have a flash forward to that view from two years earlier, concluding that the shock would be overwhelming and utterly confounding.
It is easy to concentrate on what we have lost, for extremely good reason, and bearing in mind some have lost much more than others. But the truth is that we have also been witness to remarkable feats from humanity. We have shown that the very great majority of us will act for the common good out of compassion for our fellow citizens. And our science and its practitioners have achieved what would have been impossible just a few decades ago, and even sober and informed analysts thought vaccine development would take considerably longer.
The impacts of our changed circumstances and shock resides in each of us. Those impacts have caused a Great ‘reevaluation’ or ‘reawakening’ or ‘rethinking’, terms used variably and interchangeably by multitudes of observers. Whatever term is used, it is the first stage of ‘the Great Reset’ era and the decisions that individuals make will determine its course.
We are already seeing the consequences of those decisions at the society and macroeconomy level.
If modern organisations undergo frequent evaluation and reorganisation, even though it causes stress through uncertainty for the majority of human beings that make up the organisation and who have come to feel that they have little power or control, why should an evaluation by those same people of how they have organised their lives be threatening?
Ada Palmer concludes her post “Who We Think Has The Power To Change The World” as follows:
So I hope what you take away from this is some point of encouragement and hope, and the understanding that we will not make exactly the world we imagine, but the world we’re going to make is going to be an amazing world, and that we are all contributing to making it, not just elite geniuses, but every one of us, every day.
I am neither a genius or a ‘simpleton’. I lie somewhere between like nearly all of us. I am well aware that some conspiracist somewhere has put 2 and 2 together and gotten 500, thinking that here is someone who wants to change the world and is also a former colleague and friend of the head of the laboratory in Wuhan which Trump (and, sadly, now even President Biden) cast dispersions over as causing the pandemic – a ha!
I am a stay at home dad who has spent a lot of time “watching the wheels go round and round” and I am an absolute political and cultural outsider. In many ways I am a social outsider, also, with a very small number of very close friends. I have little time for the meaningless, hollow chitchat – beyond a pleasant chat with a stranger while waiting in line at a checkout – required to spread myself so thinly to maintain regular contact with a large group of acquaintances by giving and receiving the emotional depth of a thin film of water over Kurrimine Beach’s tidal flat sufficient for a skimboard to run freely. I prefer to give to my friends deeply, and because I do, I know that I can lean on them when circumstances require it.
The upshot of all that is that I have no grandiose view of my impact on humanity, and anybody who ascribes that to me is delusional, but I do firmly believe that all of us who have the compassion, intellect and sensibilities to think deeply on these issues owes it to themselves, those they love, and yes, broader humanity, to speak up and share their thoughts openly with humility.
I have always understood that to be the way humanity progresses, one person, one conversation, one reader, one viewer, one listener at a time, in the manner that Ada Palmer at ExUrbe blog describes has always been the case.
And while I know it is always easy to slip into cynicism, I remain very optimistic that humanity is indeed finding its way to that better path. But, as I have underlined in all of my own writing, and as Ada also reminds us, we all need to realise that we can not sit back and leave the work to others, for we each are responsible for the world in which our future generations will connect, including with us.
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© Copyright Brett Edgerton 2021
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