“Our generation doesn’t send Christmas cards”, asserted my 30-year-old daughter when I complained about writing them. She followed up with, “I’ll be sending an e-card like last year”.
Whatever your position about handwritten Christmas cards versus e-cards (I’m in both camps this year), you’d have to admit that for most, it’s not so much about having a physical item or possession that counts.
In a digital age, we no longer need to possess an object to give and receive cards, listen to music, to watch videos or to read a book. Things are disappearing right before our eyes, as the dematerialization of society escalates.
Young people view ownership and the act of consumption as far less important today than being part of the perpetual feedback loop of social media and online personas, reports a paper published in the Journal of Consumer Research.
Oxford University Press’ Word of the Year, the ‘selfie’, the little smartphone self-portraits that we take regularly to update our family and friends, adds evidence to these findings.
However, author Russell Belk, suggests that rather than being the most selfish generation millennials are ushering in a warmer, inclusive and more philanthropic society.
Another word that has figured predominantly in news reports this year is ‘science.’ Contradicting Oxford, Merriam-Webster found that ‘science’ took out the honours as word of the year for 2013, recording a 176 percent increase in look-ups on their website.
No longer willing to just go along with the latest urban legends, the reasonably well-educated Westerner has learned to ask ‘why’ and ‘how’ and is doing just that … online.
And along the way we’re discovering that scientific studies have overturned some beaut urban legends. For instance, it was found that physical aging after 80 is determined less by heredity than by the warmth of your relationships and healthy habits (Triumphs of Experience: The Men of the Harvard Grant Study); and wind turbines don’t make you feel sick or healthy, but spin can.
Science is revealing that, like the effect produced by placebos, our perceptions and beliefs have a most profound effect on our lives and health.
However, today’s healthcare practices sometimes conflict. They indicate a growing resolve to understand and treat the ‘whole’ human being with compassion pitted against a persistent faith in the doctrine of materialism and physical methodologies.
Earlier this month, Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi called on the world’s healthcare leaders and policy-makers to view innovation in healthcare from a spiritual standpoint; “one rooted in human values and in spirituality which help us come together as we move forward into the 21st century.”
During a keynote address at the World Innovation Summit on Health (WISH) she pleaded not to “look at healthcare innovation only in terms of technology, training and medical education.” She believes that “healthcare is about caring and without caring, healthcare will not have a meaning.”
She’s not alone in rating compassion as paramount. A thousand people surveyed about what super powers they would acquire if they could, surprisingly rated “the ability to comfort anyone” as number two.
There’s a deep longing in us all for a greater compassion and spiritual comfort, as a poet once expressed it: “… comforters are needed much of Christlike touch.”
Today’s scientific discoveries such as quantum physics suggest that there is a less material and more mental nature to our universe; that our thoughts and ideas guide our experiences. There is a view held by some scientists that this indicates a higher power at the helm.
Jesus’ birth, which people from every corner of the world come together to celebrate this week, revealed a divine power that is accessible to us all. It heralded a new model for personal relationships. It also foretold of the health benefits of forgiveness, compassion and unselfish care.
Digital native or out of the ark, seems that the mental and spiritual nature of health is worth our consideration and effort.
It appears that we’ll make 2014 a healthy year, as we make it an ‘unselfie’ year!