Skip to main content
A Magazine for Sheffield

Poorly Developed: The 21st Century!

The 21st Century! Futuristic fantasy of our ancestors! Non-stop, around-the-clock entertainment, rapid development and material wealth abound!

Why then, amidst all this wonder, do we appear so sorely unsatisfied, so deeply unfulfilled, so sadly incomplete? Why do so many of us feel, from our deepest depths and heart of hearts, that something very important is missing? Capitalism thrives as we compete against each other, striving for power, money, fame and success, promoting a self-serving, rigid individualism and a manipulative consumer attitude which insidiously breeds within all areas of our lives.

We market our selves as products for sale, with social media providing a readily accessible platform from which to project our sales pitch, urged on by an even bigger marketing campaign, fed by a relentless supply of billboards, music videos, magazines and TV adverts, professing unrealistic ideals and fuelling our collective insecurity. Not thin enough, not rich enough, not fit enough, not good enough. In this society of gross abundance, we seem corrupted by the fear of not enough.

According to, seven million tons of food and drink is wasted per year in the UK alone. On top of that, estimates that almost 25% of electrical and electronic equipment taken to waste recycling centres could be re-used, saving up to £200 million per year.

Cutting-edge technology yields greater means of communication, but are we truly connecting? In the rat race to become bigger, better, faster, stronger than the next, do we fail to perceive and miss a trick, perhaps even neglect the very point itself?

During a recent trip to India – my western perspective bamboozled by poverty and necessity – what really absorbed me wasn't the scarcity of people’s lives, but the sufficiency of their community. There seemed to be a real bond between strangers on the street, between family and friends, an inclusive community based on compassion, empathy and reconciliation.

Despite the greatly perceived lack, people had time to listen and assist, understanding each other’s needs without judgement. The pressure and stress of our own 'first world' lives just didn't seem to exist. It wasn't until later, as the sweat of a three-month adventure swirled down the plughole in an eddy of bubbles, that I really sat back and reflected. Is this community spirit the key to seeing beyond our myopic wants and desires?

Perhaps entwined with our own feelings of inadequacy, our conscience speaks: “Take a step back and humbly remove the blinkers. No more to charge ignorantly and blindly with the masses. Slow down and make time for each other, understand the needs of others and accept differing perceptions. Seek to empower in all that you do, adopt dedication and focus to ensure this. Be mindful of the notion that increased resistance, aggressive communication and the fight for power hinders the creation of a peaceful environment.”

Is such an environment compatible with capitalism at all? What would happen if we didn't conform to the separateness of our society? If we decided instead to take personal responsibility, starting within our own microcosm: our home, our work, our relationships with one another. To think in terms of human need and practice gratitude rather than criticism, to inspire others with proactive loving action by example, not force, and to see beyond the labels of right and wrong. What if? Could we really make a difference? Could we really change the world?

The people of India show me that fulfilment cannot be measured by bank balance or status. Capitalism shows me that human contentment cannot be bought.

If everything was stripped away, leaving mankind standing bare, relationships with each other would remain. Brotherhood would bind us. Are we so busy trying to be someone that we have lost the essence of who we really are? )

Next article in issue 94

More articles