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Volatility and disruption

12:30 AM July 15, 2022

The old normal is not gone, not totally. And parts of it will tend to be there, especially the brick-and-mortar components. But its constancy is gone, and consequently, its dependability. While it may look the same on the surface, a terrible convulsion shakes it. The old normal is there, but we can sense that it is steadily crumbling from the inside.

The pandemic was like a global seizure, its impact leaving us scared and breathless. Because it is not over and we are just waiting for the next one. Not the next pandemic but the next seizure. The worst of Covid-19 seems over, but enough of it remains, enough to keep us concerned, not paralyzed anymore.

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The Russian invasion of Ukraine, however, is our current seizure and we sense that its worst has not yet come. Like Covid-19, the Russian war has had a global impact and radical consequences on all fronts. Geopolitics is upset and the chips are still falling, forcing new alliances and eventual breakaways as well. Economies, domestic and international, are disrupted, which means we still do not know what comes next.

The weakening of constancy is caused by rate of unmanaged change, or volatility. And volatility is best understood by its attendant consequence – disruption. The greater the volatility, the more radical the disruption. Volatility and disruption guarantee a new configuration of life after the seizure. How that life will be is what will emerge as the new normal.

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Inside a seizure, volatility and disruption cause more random decisions, unsettling previous formats and paradigms. Because we do not know what else to do from a predictive platform, we react, we adapt to the moment, and then move to the next situation with not much more clarity. Without meaning to, we now understand one truism of life – that the only constant changes.

Simply put, the rate of change has increased to a tempo that change itself becomes obvious. There were times when change was so slow that we would notice it only after decades, or from one generation to another. Even then, most changes then were not that major and life-changing. Not today, not now.

The creativity of man is on a roll. Expressed as technology, never in human history has man become so inventive and so capable of manifesting innovation. Change through technology has been so fast that the mass population of humanity can hardly catch up. The advanced ideas of the 1% are being translated to commercially produced and marketed products before the 99% can fully understand what was launched the week before.

Well and good, it seems. When we look at our new generations, starting with the babies and toddlers, they seem to adapt well enough. We see them start so young, handling electronic devices and their content with native intuition even at two to three years old. That tells us that technology is effectively driving the very young and more so the youth who are in elementary and high school. By force of circumstance, the older population follows, just more slowly.

Unfortunately, and dangerously so, human consciousness and societal maturity have not grown at the same pace as technology. For some unfathomable reason, probably by natural or divine design, the human body and human emotions cannot keep pace with human innovation. Technology is so advanced to a point that they are now like toys for big boys, big but still boys.

Emotionally, the level of immaturity is measured by the volume and breadth of conflict among people and nations. In the 21st century, we are in the throes of war against terrorists, war against communist rebels, the war against drugs, and the greatest them all today – the war against disinformation. In digital lingo, the truth is being hacked.

Economically, the level of immaturity is measured by the amount of poverty that human beings suffer. Whatever economic systems may be in play, the reality still points to scandalous wealth inequality. The systems in place mostly favor the indefinite extension of monarchies, autocracies, or oligarchies where a ridiculous number of individuals control and influence the global economy.

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Even calamities are not enough to slow down the amassing of selective wealth. Calamities specifically favor greed in the hands of the powerful, and the powerful are in both the private and public sectors. So naturally, the greedy collude to profit even in the worst of times like a pandemic.

Case in point is the less than 3,000 billionaires before the pandemic increasing their wealth by $3.78 trillion from March 2020 to March 2022. One billionaire was added to their population every 30 hours. On the other hand, 263 million will crash into poverty in 2022 or one million every 33 hours. Thank you, Oxfam, for this information.

Politically, then, expect volatility and disruption. The Russian invasion of Ukraine takes the cake, but it can still trigger a bigger war. There is no other end point but political upheaval when the lust for power and greed is insatiable. It only takes the inequality to cross its tolerable threshold.

The saddest thing of all is that the immaturity of the rich and powerful will prey on the ignorance of the majority. It used to be guns and gold that were the main tools of the powerful and the greedy. However, a new tool for control is rising in value and effectiveness. The new kid on the block is disinformation. We have a gang of super monsters in combination with guns and gold.

The future is more than bleak, it is radical and unpredictable. We are stepping into a minefield of volatility and disruption. Most of us who are not part of the global and national elite have little beyond our personal levels of capacity for self-sufficiency and self-determination. But our individual efforts must find convergence in numbers and direction. If we cannot find togetherness in our common good, we will be like sheep walking blindly for our own slaughter.

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