Hope at the End of the Industrial Age – Welcoming First World Version 2.0

Copyright 2015 Lauri Ann Lumby

I have had several in-depth conversations with people who are concerned over manufacturing jobs leaving our country, wondering if in this mass-exodus the United States would cease to be a first-world country and will revert into third-world status. As these concerns were raised, I turned inward and instead of doom, saw before me a new world in the process of being born.

The industrial revolution created rapid growth in the Western world and ushered in the distinction between first, second and third world status. With the advent of industry, Western culture emerged and thrived (or so we have said), while developing countries lagged behind. The industrial age supported advancing technology and assembly-line based manufacturing allowed us to meet the growing needs of Western society. Soon, we could produce everything the world would need to survive. The industrial revolution provided people with jobs and a regular wage which provided some with sense of security. Eventually employee benefits such as insurance, paid time off, vacation, retirement plans, etc. were created to further support the illusion of security.

While industry has provided workers with perceived surety, there is an insidious side to modern industry. Industry’s primary concern is not for its workers. Instead, it is driven to provide wealth for the corporation owners. At the height of the industrial age when production met the common needs, industry owners sought to create more demand. Advertising was born which purposefully manipulates people through their deeper-seated insecurities, compelling them to believe they need things they don’t, thereby causing them to spend more money. This has created a vicious cycle of misplaced needs and outward expenditures, where in the end…..nothing is ever enough.

While the industrial age has provided many benefits and has supported advancement in technology, there is much that was left behind. Previous to industry, people worked to provide for their own needs through their own unique talents and abilities. Some farmed. Others were craftsmen. Some were teachers. Others provided medical care and support. Some served the households of the landowners. Others governed the land. Some maintained peace. Others upheld the law and presided over questions of the law. Some were artisans, musicians, storytellers, poets, writers, builders. And in all of this, there was time for leisure.

Things weren’t perfect as many went without, but the same is true today, in spite of our “first world” status. With all the advances we have made, poverty and violence country are at an all-time high. Many go hungry. Many are without basic healthcare. Education is floundering. Racism, sexism, orientationism, prejudice, discrimination and ignorance still reign. And more than anything else – the vast majority of those living in our culture – no matter how much wealth they possess – are unfulfilled and despairing over a life that has no meaning. The industrial age has been both a blessing and a curse.

The good news is that as our manufacturing jobs flood toward developing countries (Mexico, China, India, etc.), something new has already taken its place. We just need to see beyond our attachment to industry to perceive it, specifically looking to the youth (millennials and beyond) who are already living it. The new world that is in the midst of being born has moved us beyond the industrial age into a world that is comprised of the perfect marriage between information, technology, creativity, entrepreneurialship, old world knowledge and craftsmanship, and (let us not forget!!!) leisure. It is a world that combines the best of the old world with all the advantages and benefits of the information/technology age.

While it will be a struggle for some, it is time to step beyond the industrial age and welcome in the new world, not one that plunges us into third-world status, but one that moves us beyond even the first world into First World Version 2.0 – a world that is already here and filled with blessings beyond imagining. If we open our hands and hearts and release what we have known and be open to the new, amazing things will begin to happen. We will find enjoyment in simpler lives defined by the satisfaction of our more basic needs. We will find fulfillment in what creatively nourishes us. We will grow closer in the more intimate connections that will be required in the new world. We will return to the wonders of nature and begin to care for our world. We might even learn how to take better care of those who are not able to care for themselves. As the industrial revolution in the West dies a natural death, a new and promising world is in the midst of being born. Welcome First World Version 2.0!

Lauri Ann Lumby, OM, MATS is an internationally known leader in the human-potential movement, specializing in the self-actualization of individuals and society. She is the founder and director of Authentic Freedom Academy providing transformational education and empowerment since 1995, a prolific writer and published author. You can learn more about Lauri and her work at www.authenticfreedomacademy.com.