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Belonging, an outmoded value in a world of growing self-centeredness and isolation


Photo by Pascal Bernardon on Unsplash

When belonging meant something.


A few days ago, Guy Lafleur, this extraordinary player of the Montreal Canadiens, left us after losing his fight against recurrent cancer.


As I listened to the reports and testimonials from all sides, I remembered that the society in which Mr. Lafleur evolved was clearly different from that of today.


At that time, there was a strong bond of belonging that existed and prevailed over the personal ego of individuals.


Not just in professional sports but also at work and in the communities.


It would seem that we have somewhat lost since then this value which made us people of heart, courage and above all, principles.

Nothing matters now except our ego!


In hockey, players were proud to wear their uniforms at that time. It was not the pay that took precedence but the club.


In the world of work, it was the same. That is why the unions were so strong. We were fighting for all the employees for a common goal.


All that has changed a lot, mainly since the excess salary in professional sports, but, for ordinary mortals, the advent of the internet and all the new technologies that followed have modified our DNA.


We no longer need others to survive. It's only for socializing, and again, it shouldn't disturb our lifestyle too much. We get used to changing relationships like we change underwear.


When I was a kid, the older ones, my dad and my uncles told stories about how people were solving problems within their communities and doing things.


I particularly remember how they settled the case of wife beaters. No question of calling the authorities, the neighbourhood men gathered together and paid a little visit to the belligerent. In general, it settled relatively quickly.


Nowadays, we turn our heads by mentioning that we don't want any trouble!


In sports, it was similar; when a player went out of bounds, had a big head or damaged the team's image, players dealt with it in the room between periods, and that was it.


I do not advocate violence to solve our problems, far from it but have we become a society of "wimps" without principles or values.


We do everything not to be disturbed by the problems of our neighbours. However, when the ambulance rings at three o'clock in the morning and wakes up the whole neighbourhood, coming to pick up the semi-unconscious neighbour following a rage from her spouse, how will we feel?


Indeed, some will say: Something should have been done. We knew it was wrong!


Understand that I'm not blaming anyone. I am also part of the lot.


These lines make me realize that everything is interconnected. Everything that happens around us always ends up touching us one day or another, in one way or another. We will be disturbed.


Where is our pride, our ties of belonging to this society, our neighbourhood, our employer?


Lafleur comes from a bygone era. Practically from another universe in which the ego was not master!


This bond of belonging passed through a minimum of respect towards others. Sadly, it is no longer the case today.


 

The reality of today's workplace


Not a week goes by that someone doesn't show up for an interview, doesn't notify, and disappears without news. Others accept jobs and don't even show up for work -- Not to mention the non-returns of calls or text messages.


It would seem that the norm now is: no answers = no interests.


What is respect for people who take time for them?


The worst thing is that it seems that we can't do anything about it. No one wants to fix this growing problem. We turn our heads so as not to get into trouble, and what about our government authorities who don't even want to hear about it because it will be extra work!


Where has this bond of belonging to a society of values gone?


Work is no longer a value. It is only a necessary thing to do to survive and pay our bills.


It should be no surprise that companies tend to operate requiring a minimum number of employees.


People are rebelling against new business practices; they advocate against robotization, and automation, mentioning that it cuts jobs and, well, sorry, but it is now the optimal way for a company to prosper in the long term. Employees are unreliable.


Employers are tired of wasting precious time to satisfy employees without respect or belonging.


Also, at work, in the past, when an employee was unreliable and disrespectful to his employer, it was the other employees who brought him to his senses. There was respect between colleagues and the employer.


An old saying: "We don't spit on the hand that feeds us."


Today, this saying no longer has any resonance in our so-called civilized society.


 

Our future


Photo by Domenico Loia on Unsplash


We have a big identity problem, values and principles on our hands at the moment, and, unfortunately, this is only the beginning.


Work as we know it is in the midst of significant changes that we will see over the next five to ten years.


The Covid pandemic has accelerated this change exponentially and much faster than the labour market can handle.


Labour shortages are not about to disappear and will increase; on the contrary.


Teleworking is a way of countering the lack of staff, but, at the same time, it creates a lack elsewhere in other sectors of activity.


People turning to telecommuting are creating shortages in industries using manual workers.


The new generations of workers are no longer interested in working physically for a salary equal to or less than they can earn by staying at home, working only a fraction of the hours.

They can easily earn the same 40-hour salary working only 2 hours a day, with a computer, selling products & services via the internet from anywhere in the world.


What can companies do about this? Nothing!


For industries requiring manual workers and manual trades, the only long-term paths will go through robotization and emigration. Not really any other options.


So, we can forget that to come back to the bond of belonging. It won't be the day before tomorrow when it will become fashionable again.


Technology has isolated us from each other. In the beginning, socially and now, it is in the world of work. It is a reality for which we must come to terms with the evidence; no one can predict how this will end!








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