Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over it became a butterfly.
If you're reading this, there's a fair chance that like me you want to make our world a more socially just and ecologically thriving world. Getting there will take superhero actions at multiple scales and spheres of influence - inside ourselves; in our homes, families and social lives; in our neighbourhoods and communities; in work and industry; and in governance, politics and social norms.
Everyday, enthusiastic groups of people meet online or face to face to tackle the countless sticky spots that humanity now finds itself trying to tackle in social justice and environment. Paul Hawken wrote a book called Blessed Unrest about this "largest movement on earth, a movement that has no name, leader, or location, and that has gone largely ignored by politicians and the media. Like nature itself, it is organizing from the bottom up, in every city, town, and culture. and is emerging to be an extraordinary and creative expression of people's needs worldwide."
Truly inspirational. So why do I so often feel myself becoming frustrated? I see well meaning people jump into solutions without first stopping, as permaculture principal one asks us, to observe and interact. Fragmented actions that may wither and perish, rather than considered, strategic integrated and uniting for scale. What’s missing is the web, the map, the songsheet, the seeing tools for emergent change. Our call to action is to imagine and live into new stories. Let’s work through climate weirdness together!
The same kinds of stories pop up too often….. Can you recognise them? In yourself? Which stories are not being told, shared, valued?
Stories of individual action - often green consumerism. These stories can get a bit self righteous, defensive and critical of ‘others’. “I buy organic fair trade cloth bags and never use plastic bags and have solar panels.” Drivers complain about the volume of traffic on the road causing congestion. Every car driver is traffic. How do we begin to see ourselves as a participant in a collective system? Individual action can be a clever way for powerful interests to collectively guilt trip us about our indulgence and avoid political action that targets large polluters and perpetrators. As Annie Leonard from Story of Stuff says ‘we need to exercise our citizen muscles as well as our consumer muscles.”
Good news stories about point solutions (solar panels, worm farms, banning drinking straws). These good news stories give us hope and show the way, yet can create illusions and mirages that these small individual actions alone are all we need.
“Worm farm versus solar panel” arguments with a zero sum gain. Multiple solutions are needed. Let's support each other.
The big hero. You know the story, tech-hero-billionaire will Tweet us out of this. Yes we need people with power and money to act and lead by example. Yet for every big hero there are loads of everyday heroes whose story is ignored and undervalued. Let's recognise them too.
Technology will save us - the bright green shoots story. We’ll it hasn’t yet. People have forever invented and used technology for good or evil. It is people's choice of how to use technology that creates the possibility to make our world better - a story of intrinsic Common Cause values.
Myths seeds sown by the merchants of doubt. Tune in your bullshit detectors. The classic myth seed in Australia is ‘coal is good for humanity’ and ‘coal is on the only safe steady and reliable source of power.’ Indeed it is a very safe source of power if you’re a human profiting from a coal company or a coal lobbyist!
It’s the government’s fault. Yes. Where the people lead, the government will follow. Lead people!
"See, many older people have this idea that climate action will be a “transition.” That it’ll be slow, incremental, based on personal choices, largely about small behavioral changes and retrofitting today’s lifestyles with cleantech gadgets — composting food waster and driving a hybrid.
It’s not. Real climate action is disruptive af." Alex Steffen
Our time as caterpillars is expiring. Our wings are ready.
I invite you to join me in crafting a new story that connects humanity in the web of life, with all the richness and diversity of thrivability, rather than just overblown GDP growth, measuring life becoming landfill. Are we at the point of emergence? Will we find a new story that grows our human capacities for empathy, wisdom and an ecosystem where life thrives?