Home, the way I talk about it and want you to make yourself more at home in, is the ecological relations in a life and the connections we tend to overlook because they are so obvious, especially in the actual physical place you are in.
In this world of global trade and global migration, though, everything ends up connected, no place and certainly no life is unaffected by other’s.
Oftentimes, it’s all connected to China (just like my personal life has become).
And China is in a strange position yet again.
From poverty it has gone to economic power, from closedness to openness and on to the current climate that feels like a strong mixture of both, from a miracle to, supposedly, the end of the miracle, and to the beginning of a new and difficult normal.
The Financial Times Features piece on “The end of the Chinese miracle” is a good look into what’s been happening, in China and for individuals, and in the big picture and with influence on the whole world:
There is one caveat: I think they seriously under-used Gerhard Flatz (who I had a chance to meet at the ISPO) and KTC, who are doing just the necessary work to change China’s position in the global economy – and the page title itself is rather better than the headline one quickly gets to see, as it does not proclaim the end of the Chinese miracle, which has been proclaimed pretty much every year since at least 2008, but rather the end of the *migrant* miracle.
The problem, and the place where “at-home-ness” comes in, is that our view of an other, and especially one as different as China, is skewed from the beginning.
The “miracle” certainly has been a story of success in many a way, whether you want to interpret it as the success of the Chinese Communist Party or the success of the people out of whose way the CCP stepped.
Having started from such a low point as it did, all in the context of a pent-up entrepreneurial drive, however, it has been less miraculous.
It has, and that image is not unpopular, been like the growth spurt of a teenager finally in puberty, and it was rather similar to the economic miracles of Germany and Japan post-WWII (which started from similar low points), as well.
Similarly, now, the end of the miracle may be less of an end than a maturation. Changes will be necessary with it, growth will not be as high as it had been, the difficulties are particularly acute in China – but it will not be the end it is often portrayed as.
China has problems for sure, and international companies counting on nothing but the easy availability of cheap labor and a population profiting from higher incomes and a drive to consume will be in as much of a bind as people expecting that easy times would continue.
That, though, has – except for a small cohort among China’s millennials – never been quite the expectation, and even in the midst of much current moaning about difficulties, most people still seem to find work and get by, if not do even better.
The country is big enough that everything can happen at once, maybe even the miracle of an end: A time of change that, difficult though it may be, leads on to the next phase in China’s development – and perhaps the world’s.
Everything cannot all go on based on consumption and growth, same as it had been going on, after all.
The main thing we should remember, especially for our own lives, is that change still continues to be the only constant.
Things will never go on just as they had before.
We keep forgetting this basic fact of life, trying to ignore it – or ignoring it without even trying to – because we become too comfortable with a recent situation rather than at home in the change.
It will happen, though.
Whether we want it or not, whether we get ready for it or refuse to acknowledge it, whether we let it steamroll us or find the niches and leverage points from which we can get through or even influence it: happen it will.
Time to accept and adapt. Which, incidentally, seems a pretty Chinese way of doing things.