Six Rules for Humans Rejoining the Natural World

According to George Monbiot, Jeremy Lent is “One of the greatest thinkers of our age.  His book “The Web of Meaning: Integrating Science and Traditional Wisdom to Find Our Place in the Universe” is awe-inspiring.  His span of knowledge is huge.

As our civilization careers towards a precipice of climate breakdown, ecological destruction and gaping inequality, people are losing their existential moorings. Our dominant worldview of disconnection, which tells us we are split between mind and body, separate from each other, and at odds with the natural world, has passed its expiration date.

Yet another world is possible.

The author investigates humanity’s age-old questions – who am I? why am I? how should I live? – from a fresh perspective, weaving together findings from modern systems thinking, evolutionary biology and cognitive neuroscience with insights from Buddhism, Taoism and indigenous wisdom.

Jeremy has permitted me to provide a link to one of his pieces, which provides an insight into his words of wisdom.

A society based on natural ecology might seem like a far-off utopia—yet communities everywhere are already creating it.

In these troubled times, we need to think totally outside the box of our mindsets.

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The untapped value of self-care: how we can achieve a better healthcare future for all

Copied from the Global Self Care Federation

The untapped value of self-care: how we can achieve a better healthcare future

Self-care is a valuable part of our healthcare infrastructure, which brings about significant benefits

The first study of its kind
At the Global Self-Care Federation (GSCF), we recently completed and published a research study on the value self-care brings within the global healthcare system. Titled the Global Social and Economic Value of Self-Care, it is a landmark study. It is the first global research project that analyses the worldwide value of self-care and is the first study to include data from low and middle-income countries (LMICs), giving it a truly global perspective.

When we talk about self-care, we’re referring to the practice of individuals looking after their own health using the knowledge and information available to them. It is a decision-making process that empowers individuals to manage their health efficiently and conveniently, in collaboration with health and social care professionals as needed.

We identified two main approaches to self-care:

  • Self-care as the first treatment option refers to the practice of self-care as opposed to visiting a primary care physician, which is typically more prevalent in developed economies.
  • Self-care only as the only treatment option is the practice of self-care instead of doing nothing, when it is the only available option, which is more prevalent in low-income countries.

We know that deeper integration of self-care into a healthcare system creates tangible benefits, bringing about both financial and time savings for physicians and individuals. The specific benefits vary according to each country’s health system and socio-economic context, but the value is realised universally.

Benefits now and for the future
In the current healthcare paradigm, self-care is not perceived as an essential pillar of a comprehensive healthcare system. Accordingly, we see a lack of targeted policy measures that incentivise (at the individual or collective level) proactively managing your own health and avoiding unnecessary physician visits when dealing with minor ailments.

Self-care brings about enormous benefits to our current system, and this is backed up by our analysis of the value of gains in overall productivity, welfare, and quality of life.

Currently, self-care practices bring savings of nearly $120bn (£100bn) each year for global healthcare systems and savings of 40.8bn productive days for both health practitioners and patients. This translates to an average of 11.83 work days per person per year, corresponding to a value of $1,879bn (£1,569bn) in welfare effects.

Quality of life is also improved and can be measured in terms of quality-adjusted life years (QALYs), a globally recognised instrument for measuring the value of health outcomes. We estimate self-care integration to bring a gain of approximately 22m QALYs worldwide.

The future potential of self-care is, of course, influenced by changes in economic welfare and demographics. The evidence indicates that the value of self-care in the future can be significantly shaped through self-care policy measures, increasing the value of self-care effects by approximately 16% to 25%.

GSCF Socio-Economic Research article 1 - image 2
Yearly savings through self-care. Illustration: PR

The results clearly demonstrate that self-care delivers both social and economic benefits on a global scale, regardless of the specific health system or demographic status. There is also great potential for increased benefits to be delivered to individuals and health systems with an increased uptake of self-care.

Realising the gains through collective action
We need to recognise self-care as a multifaceted concept, encompassing a wide variety of health-related practices. It’s clear that there is a need for greater acknowledgement of the elements of self-care and the benefits it brings, from all stakeholders in the healthcare process. Collective action is required from all sides to ensure that self-care is a key driver towards achieving UHC.

We express our findings for the value of self-care in a variety of formats: savings in monetary cost, physician time, or individuals’ time, as well as gains in welfare, productivity, and quality of life. But no matter which data point you look at, the result is clear – self-care is a valuable part of our healthcare infrastructure, brings about significant benefits, has the potential for even more.

GSCF Socio-Economic Research article 1 - image 3
The pillars of the social value of self-care. Illustration: PR

As an industry, if we wish to achieve the projected values discussed in this report, we need coherent healthcare policy and regulation supporting self-care, as well as further integration of self-care into the healthcare system. It can no longer be considered as an aside – it must be included as a foundational pillar.

That’s why we call on health and finance ministries to jointly develop and implement cohesive self-care policies aimed at empowering individuals to take charge of their own health.

Healthcare literacy has the capacity to be a fundamental catalyst for this change as we move forward. It enables individuals to take an empowered stance on their own health. Giving people the ability to understand and act upon credible health information is a crucial step in the process. If we aim to achieve our UHC objectives and bring our healthcare system into the future, self-care must be considered a key building block for growth – and healthcare literacy a foundation upon which to build.

Achieving self-care integration will not be accomplished by only one set of stakeholders. It will take all of us – policymakers, regulators, industry actors, international activists, to bring about cohesive and fundamental change. We must work together to achieve a better healthcare future for all.

To find out more about the Global Self-Care Federation and the recently released Global Social and Economic Value of Self-Care study, visit selfcarefederation.org/ecosoc-report

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It is my personal perspective at the moment that our entire world is in a governing crisis, and that this governing crisis concerns, mainly, the fundamental legitimacy of our governing systems.  

From James Martin at the Deep Transformation Network:

https://youtu.be/ZtNnX1JWQ4g

That is, we have a global — or planet-wide — crisis of governing.

This is widely understood. But what is not widely understood is that government is non-identical with governance, and that governments are manifestations of a state system (called ‘government’) which are ‘globally’ held in the thrall of anti-democratic processes world-wide.  Anti-democratic politics are varied and complex, but the principal anti-democratic institutions are known as “business institutions,” and these are principally capitalist institutions.  Capitalism is, in this view, fundamentally anti-democratic. And yet the ostensible democracies of the world are essentially institutions of a capitalist state system which has become fully globalized.

Democracy implies the self-governing of people who organize their governance of, by and for the people.  But state capitalist systems have long been obviating the emergence of any form of governance which challenges state capitalism, which is presently organized as an international and global system which seeks to impose its collective will not only upon all humans, but all beings and things of Earth.  Presently, this “Megamachine” (as Fabian Scheidler calls it) has managed to impose its ideological will on most of the surface of Earth.

This suggests a major conundrum in the processes of culture, history and politics. The conundrum is the living question: Can humanity re-assert itself (in relation to this Megamachine) through the state’s systems of laws? Or must the people, instead, walk away from governments–and their legal systems–in order to reassert agency in the face of the Megamachine?  For the Megamachine is the most integrated current form of anti-democratic tendencies which the world has ever known. It is the essence of the thing Ralph Waldo Emerson might have been referring to when he said “Things are in the saddle and ride mankind.” But … perhaps not. Perhaps in that very mediocre poem, with the lovely line in it about human agency in a world of machines, meant something else.  But still, humankind is in the thrall of a machine invented by men (mostly men, anyway).

I suspect that if the state and its laws are ever to serve ordinary, everyday human beings, and the natural world (ecosystems, the biosphere), we will probably have to take both paths — something never considered in Robert Frost’s famous poem, The Road Not Taken.

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

(continued – The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost – Poems | Academy of American Poets)

The state, as currently constituted in most every location, is not of, by and for the people. And it is not of, by and for the Living Earth (Gaia). It is more like a Paperclip maximizer designed to concentrate money and political power (decision-making power) centripetally (as contrasted with distributing it centrifugally). To do such magic it had to subsume the state under its own purposes, everywhere. And this explains and defines our times on “this poor, poor Earth.”

(Money which is power; power which is money; the two fused into a single thing. Some long for one more than the other, and so pursue power rather than money, or vice versa.)

You talked but after your talking all the rest remains.
After your talking—poets, philosophers, contrivers of romances—everything else,
All the rest deduced inside the flesh
Which lives & knows not just what is permitted.
I am a woman held fast now in a great silence.
Not all creatures have your need for words.
Birds you killed, fish you tossed into your boat,
In what words will they find rest & in what heaven?
You received gifts from me; they were accepted.
But you don’t understand how to think about the dead.
The smell of winter apples, of hoarfrost, and of linen.
There are nothing but gifts on this poor, poor Earth.

—Czeslaw Milosz, from Unattainable Earth

Who would not love to believe that laws could be just, made of, by and for the people — and for a living Earth?

Yet who could believe, after all we’ve seen and felt, that the state would stop being a bully, a thief, a rapist?

Two roads diverge in our woods, and I will probably take the both of them. But I’ll side mainly with the wild ones out away from the city, out away from the law-makers, out beyond the suits and ties and the hierarchies these proclaim. I have no faith in Machines.  Then one day the city and the forest may conjoin. But not before we’ve become wild and free.

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Nate Hagens interviewed John Gowdy, an ecological economist,

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Regenerating a native forest

Fools & Dreamers: Regenerating a Native Forest

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DEADLY OPTIMISM, USEFUL PESSIMISM

Copied from the Post Carbon Institute

by Richard Heinberg

Humanity is hurtling into an era of ecosystem breakdown and social collapse. Most people will understandably respond with horror, gloom, and hostility. But these reactions will just make matters worse. What’s really needed is a realistic sense of what’s possible, and a dogged determination to heal division, protect nature and culture, and build sustainable alternatives to our current fossil fuel-based, centralized industrial support systems. Psychologists have a name for this attitude—defensive pessimism, which we’ll explore below. What we don’t need is uncritical optimism, which contributed to our current mess.

The Era of Deadly Optimism

Most people’s brains have soaked for decades in a marinade of rosy expectations. Since the 1950s, forecasts for the human future could be summarized by the adjectives more, bigger, and faster. Our political leaders and cultural icons encouraged us to think that more human problems (including disease and poverty) will be solved with each passing year; that we will unravel the mysteries of biology, astronomy, and other scientific fields; that we will access limitless new energy sources; and that technology-derived comfort, convenience, and connectivity will increase and become available to more people.

This pervasive optimism was based on the actual experience of much of humanity, which saw wonders unfold throughout the 20th century (though a large number of people were not invited to the feast; indeed, their lives, labor, and resources were part of the menu). New technologies, from farm tractors to computers, gave humans the ability to do lots of things more quickly and easily—and to do things that were previously unimaginable, like bouncing laser beams off the surface of the Moon to precisely measure its distance from Earth, or putting a motor inside your ice cream cone so you don’t have to keep turning it by hand. Hundreds of millions of new jobs sprang up in thousands of new occupational fields. Scientists sequenced the human genome and gathered data from the fringes of the universe. Lifespans increased. Wages for most workers rose, enabling them to buy more stuff. And many businesses enjoyed decade after decade of brimming profits, with owners of stocks and bonds happily coming along for the joyride.

Optimism was a self-reinforcing feedback: the system delivered more, people came to expect more, so the system was primed to deliver still more. The result was continued economic growth, with the global economy doubling in size every two or three decades.

This always-accelerating conveyor belt of industrial production and disposal depended not just on the increased availability of energy and materials, but also on rising expectations. Optimism greased the wheels of commerce, with society operating as an optimism-generating machine.

Tipping into Pessimism

Of course, there was a downside to fossil-fueled, optimism-propelled growth. Exponentially increasing humanity’s resource extraction, industrial production, and waste dumping resulted in far more pollution of the environment. The most insidious form of pollution turned out to be greenhouse gases (released from the burning of fossil fuels), which are now undermining climate stability and throwing into doubt the survival not only of human civilization, but also that of millions of other species. At the same time, these activities steadily depleted resources—both renewable ones, like fish, forests, and freshwater, and nonrenewable ones, like metal ores and fossil fuels themselves. Even the minerals needed to replace fossil fuels with alternative energy sources like solar panels and wind turbines are depleting quickly, limiting the long-term prospects for “green growth.” Industrial expansion also crowded out wild nature, with populations of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and insects declining by two-thirds, on average, during the past half-century. At the same time, economic inequality increased to grotesque extremes.

News about these worrisome developments has tended to trickle out to the general public in occasional, disconnected stories to which only a minority pay much attention. Nevertheless, the accumulating weight of scientific studies and news reports, in addition to the lived experience of increasing numbers of people who’ve been forced to flee wildfires and floods or to endure famines, is leading to a gradual but widespread shift in attitude.

In short, it is becoming apparent to a rapidly growing portion of the global populace—though perhaps not yet a majority—that expectations of perpetually having more cannot continue to be met. The price of 70 years of unconsidered optimism is coming due.

Now the human world is flipping to a status where most things will be continually getting worse. Housing and food are becoming less affordable. Institutions are becoming less stable and functional. Not only are natural disasters becoming more frequent and severe, but recovery from them is more problematic. Supply chains are less reliable. Authoritarianism is on the rise. The economic playing field is increasingly tipped in favor of those already wealthy. Political polarization is spiking, and the ability of governments to solve problems is waning.

All of these trends are serious enough. But for people who study underlying system dynamics, concern runs even deeper. Many scientists believe that impacts of climate change have been underestimated by officials. The world’s oceans, which supply half of Earth’s oxygen, appear to be dying. A third of the planet’s farmable topsoil is already gone due to industrial agriculture, and, in a business-as-usual scenario, the rest will disappear in just 50 years. Fossil fuels are depleting rapidly, but alternative energy sources will not be capable of replacing them at our current scale of energy usage. We live, after all, on a finite planet.

It takes a while for the weight of all this information to sink in. For many people in the prime of life or older, optimism still reigns. Indeed, it is easy to cite examples of futurists and think tanks still pumping out childishly imaginative, limit-free visions of what humanity will achieve in the remainder of this century. But surveys say that more than two thirds of Americans believe today’s children will be financially worse off than their parents. And, according to another recent poll, roughly half of 10,000 people aged 16 to 25 surveyed across ten countries think that humanity is doomed; three quarters of the group surveyed agree that “the future is frightening.”

In China, the bai lan or “let it rot” movement is spreading among young people. The slang term was coined to reflect a sense of doom and despondency. Chinese urban unemployment for people aged 16 to 25 is running at over 18 percent, and millions who have trouble finding jobs are simply shelving long-term plans and staying home watching TV. The future is hopeless, so why bother?

But time wasted in binge watching is hardly the worst possible outcome from optimism’s reversal. A growing sense of nihilism among young people worldwide has in some cases contributed to alt-right movements that are bent on authoritarianism, misogyny, and race baiting. If optimism supercharged humanity’s euphoric wave of expansion in recent decades, rising pessimism could accelerate all the disintegrative trends—environmental, political, economic, and social—that we may face in the coming decades.

The Psychology of Hope and Gloom

At the same time as we are cresting last century’s wave of giddy optimism and beginning our descent, psychologists are learning more about how personal frames of mind shape our actions, health, and daily experience.

In clinical studies, it’s been found that having a positive outlook on life is associated with 35 percent lower rates of heart disease and 14 percent reduced rates of early death. Optimists also have better coping skills and tend to engage in healthier behaviors (diet, exercise, etc.).

Some psychologists believe a cheerful outlook is also an evolutionary advantage. According to terror management theory, once humans developed language and a consciousness of death, they tended to become vulnerable to psychological paralysis, knowing that personal oblivion could come at any moment. The belief in an afterlife may have emerged as an adaptation that enabled people to engage in everyday activities less burdened by their awareness of mortality. Today, billions of people believe that when they die they will be reunited with loved ones and will enjoy an eternity of bliss. The fact that these beliefs have spread and persisted in the absence of physical evidence to support them suggests they meet some deep personal need.

Meanwhile, even though pessimism may lower your life expectancy, it turns out to have its own slate of advantages. A certain type of pessimism, which experts call defensive pessimism, is linked to the ability to make more accurate predictions and to better assess risks and threats. Defensive pessimists don’t just have a gloomy outlook; they’ve learned to harness negative thinking to improve their coping and adaptive skills through goal orientation. They think and plan more carefully than others. The motivating ideal of the defensive pessimist might be stated as “respecting limits and living well within them.”

However, there is also a more familiar kind of pessimism, characterized by the tendency not only to expect the worst, but to give up trying to improve one’s life conditions and instead to blame oneself or others for unwanted outcomes. This kind of pessimism can be demoralizing, dispiriting, and even enraging. People who frame the world this way tend to experience more isolation, greater conflict and stress, poorer health, and reduced well-being.

One could argue that defensive pessimism isn’t pessimism at all, but something more akin to realism—a wise middle ground between two positions that are both ultimately cop-outs to responding rationally and usefully to what transpires. But for the moment let’s stick with the terminology that psychologists are using.

Swimming Against the Tide

If the late 20th century was an era filled with technological wonders and dominated by optimism, the remainder of the current century, featuring threats and disappointments galore, will likely be characterized by pervasive pessimism. But pessimism of what kind?

Clearly, a pessimism of paralysis and blame will just make matters even worse. Humanity will face challenges enough from rising seas, broken supply chains, and failing food systems. If people’s willingness to sacrifice and work together for the common good erodes as well, then the grimmest of dystopian nightmares may await us. What will it take for individuals and communities to survive the coming era—psychologically, socially, and physically? Only an obdurate defensive pessimism will help.

Humans are herd animals often subject to excess. So, as a member of the herd, if you want to contribute to society’s long-term stability, or even if you just want to have a balanced, insightful view of the world, it’s often helpful to be willing to swim against the tide. However, bucking the herd is seldom easy, and risks social isolation and loss of income or status.

In the era of optimism, some of the most socially relevant and prophetic voices were those providing a counterbalance to unrealistic expectations by pointing out the absurdity of perpetual growth and the costs of ongoing industrial expansion. Examples include economist Herman Daly, who pioneered the idea that a non-growing or “steady state” economy could better serve human needs while reducing environmental impacts; the Rodale Institute and permaculture networks, which pointed out the downsides of industrial agriculture and promoted ecologically sound alternatives; philosopher Ivan Illich, who promoted communitarian “tools for conviviality” and low-tech alternatives to modern industrialized medicine and mass compulsory education; Vandana Shiva, Helena Norberg Hodge, and many others who promoted Indigenous people’s control over land, livelihoods, and culture; Jerry Mander and colleagues at the International Forum on Globalization, who critiqued corporate-led globalization; and the tens of thousands of aid workers in countries around the world who strove to reduce population growth by promoting family planning and women’s empowerment.

As we enter the age of consequences, a similar counterbalance is needed. The antidote to destructive pessimism isn’t a bigger dose of unrealistic optimism (though many people and organizations are still trying to convince us that exponential population and consumption growth will work out just fine in the end). Indeed, more and more people are resorting to rage, fatalism, nihilism, and escapism precisely because what they are actually experiencing is so incongruent with the dominant cultural narrative of progress and abundance. Instead, the most helpful attitude from here on will be a refusal to accept the inevitability of the very worst outcomes. It is a stubborn insistence on imagining alternatives to growth and working hard to realize them—while acknowledging that most of our existing technological and social structures were designed during the era of expansion and will likely fail under conditions that are now emerging. Italian philosopher Antonio Gramsci (1891-1937) may have put it most succinctly in his motto, “pessimism of the intellect, optimism of the will.”

Consider again the bai lan movement mentioned above. What might happen if a substantial proportion of the discouraged Chinese young people now staring at screens started working together to build resilience in their local communities? Of course, the fact that China is an authoritarian, top-down society may militate against such grassroots efforts. But that doesn’t make the task impossible; it merely means it may be easier elsewhere.

During the 20th century, human life support systems (food, health care, building construction, transportation, and manufacturing) came to be dominated by giant, centralized infrastructure projects led and funded by governments, banks, and corporations. This century, as those centralized systems fail due to lack of energy, broken supply chains, and the consequences of climate change, new grassroots social structures will need to spring up to meet basic community needs. In a recent journal article, “Pedagogy of agency and action, powers of 10, and fractal entanglement: Radical means for rapid societal transformation toward survivability and justice,” authors Mark McCaffrey and Jean Boucher argue that “decentralized, community-based meso-scale efforts to mitigate and adapt to global change provide a practical ‘sweet spot’ between an individual human being and all humanity, between a person and the planet.” This research confirms the observation that helped energize the Transition Initiatives over a decade ago: local community-scale action has the best chance of breaking through national and global gridlock to address human needs in a time of ecosystem loss and institutional failure.

So, what would community-based defensive pessimists actually do? Here are just a few examples:

  • Carbon farming, which builds topsoil while capturing and storing atmospheric CO2
  • Low tech—the revival of past, and often forgotten, technologies as a ways to cope under conditions of more expensive and less abundant energy
  • Mutual support networks like Via Campesina, the international peasants’ movement representing millions of poor farmers worldwide
  • Ecosystem protection and restoration led by Indigenous peoples
  • The visionary work of Doug and Kris Tompkins to buy large tracts of land and set it aside for ecosystem resto
  • g systems—such as tradable energy quotas, pioneered by the late British economist David Fleming
  • Transition engineering, as explored by Susan Krumdieck and colleagues
  • Building (or re
  • ration and recovery
  • Energy rationing systems—such as tradable energy quotas, pioneered by the late British economist David Fleming
  • Transition engineering, as explored by Susan Krumdieck and colleagues
  • Building (or rebuilding) strong neighborhood networks so that people can support each other in times of need (and have some fun in other times).

If all this sounds a bit like what the critics of technological over-optimism were promoting back in the 20th century, there are reasons for that—as well as multiple links of inspiration and connection. What was sustainable then is sustainable now. But the terrain is shifting beneath our feet. Increasingly, we are not just swimming against a tide of centralized industrialism, but are forced to find ways to replace systems as they crash. Our tasks are therefore of greater urgency. On the other hand, however, human energy is likely to be freed up by the collapse of optimism. Young people are desperate to have a future, and millions could be recruited to alternatives-building efforts if the options were made clear to them.

A couple of big things are needed to facilitate the process. One is a political environment where autonomous small-group action is still possible (this means somehow staving off far-right authoritarianism wherever possible). The second is a systematic transfer of resources, primarily land and money, from the retiring generation, who benefitted most from growth, toward organizations of young people, who will be saddled with growth’s consequences.

Defensive pessimists—hey, that’s a terrible label for recruiting purposes; let’s just call ourselves resilience builders—are unlikely to become the majority in the years and decades ahead, just as those who questioned growth were a neglected minority during the century of over-optimism. But resilience builders may end up making the crucial difference between survivable hard times and utter human failure.

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Impact Networks

From James Martin

Impact Networks, the Documentary (converge.net)

“Impact Networks: Creating Change in a Complex World illuminates how purpose-driven networks create lasting change by embracing interdependence and generating impact through collaboration.  This film explores the patterns impact networks follow to accelerate learning and collaboration leading to social and environmental change. We hear the voices of six accomplished network leaders behind some of the most successful large-scale collaborative efforts around the globe—from land stewardship to migrant rights. Their stories reveal that although every impact network is unique in its focus and composition, all are remarkably similar in their approach. Drawing on the wisdom of nature and embracing a living-systems approach to organizing, impact networks span regions, organizations, and silos of all kinds. They bring people together to build relationships across boundaries, leverage the work, skills, and motivations of the group, and make progress amid unpredictable and ever-changing conditions. Given the increasing complexity of the issues we face as a society, our ability to form, grow, and work through networks has never been more essential.  Produced by Converge and filmed by Hive Studios, this film complements the 2021 book by David Ehrlichman—Impact Networks: Create Connection, Spark Collaboration, and Catalyze Systemic Change, published by Berrett-Koehler. For more information and free resources for cultivating networks, visit the Converge website at converge.net. DISCUSSION GUIDE We invite you to watch the Impact Networks documentary in community. The discussion guide found at converge.net/toolkit is designed to inspire conversation and help you integrate your insights from the film into your life and work.”

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Energy Blindness

This is the most enlightening piece I have ever come across.   It is so good.

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The End of the World As We Know It

A interesting piece copied from the Deep Transformation Network

https://deeptransformation.network/posts/24971004?

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The future must come from the grassroots 

The world economy is shrinking and the population is increasing.  Food poverty is spreading.  Seen from the top-down the future looks bleak.

Our growth-led system is leading to global extinction.  We do not yet have a positive future to imagine.

My big-picture view of the future is positive.  But getting there will be awful.

Dissatisfaction

According to ABC News:

Rising food costs. Soaring fuel bills. Wages that are not keeping pace. Inflation is plundering people’s wallets, sparking a wave of protests and workers’ strikes around the world.

This week alone saw protests by the political opposition in Pakistan, nurses in Zimbabwe, unionized workers in Belgium, railway workers in Britain, Indigenous people in Ecuador, hundreds of U.S. pilots and some European airline workers. Sri Lanka’s prime minister declared an economic collapse Wednesday after weeks of political turmoil

An increasing number of folk are fed up with how things are, and cannot imagine a better future without dismantling the current system.  But they do not like to say so, for fear of being seen to be eccentric.

Not only is there dissatisfaction with how things are, but there is also no understanding of what is going on.

As I wrote in an earlier piece:

As the new reality becomes generally acknowledged fundamental changes in our national and individual mindsets will occur.  This will be a subconscious change for most people, that cannot be avoided.   It will be part of a collective change that will shape the future.

Change is now coming from individuals, connected consciously, cooperatively and intuitively, finding the way.

In the UK, the Government and public sector organisations seem to be lost.  They cannot imagine a future which is not dependent on economic growth.

An economic recession is expected, but not one that goes on and on, and on and on.  As it will.

Two mindsets

There are two fundamentally different mindsets in our culture.  They are (1) the top-down mindset of the commercial and public sectors and (2) the bottom-up grassroots mindset of individuals and their extended families.

Unless you have experienced life in both mindsets you will be unable to imagine life in the “other” culture.  You may be able to imagine the existence of the two ways, but don’t kid yourself that you can understand how the “other” one ticks if you haven’t been there.

With the aforesaid in mind, how the future will unfold in the shrinking economy can be better imagined.

The top-down aspects of our society which are dependent on growth, are now shrinking by amalgamation, delayering and redundancy.  Discretionary spending is declining and eventually, only those elements of essential spending which are crucial to national and local survival will remain.

Positivity at the grassroots

Meanwhile, the bottom-up is developing at the grassroots. It is an off-grid culture, of self-organising and motivated individuals and their families.  This is not my imagination, I know families doing this.

I sometimes come across individuals who would welcome the idea of the future being human-based, rather than imposed on them by top-down authorities.  But they consider this to be a fanciful dream, that will only come about when the present system collapses.

There is no need to wait.  It is already happening at the grassroots.

The early adopters of doings at the grassroots will get their ideas from local craftspeople and books.  Subconscious connections with like-minded individuals have also played a role.  Unemployment may have been a trigger.

I must emphasise, that by “grassroots” I mean individuals and their extended families. Not local organisations.

The important thing is that it is happening.

Diffusion

The next step in the growth of grassroots doings will be the diffusion of the knowledge of the early adopters.  How this is done will be crucial in ensuring that the future will be what is wanted ecologically.

In the UK there is some support for localism, but it is being promoted by top-down organisations.  In my locality, local information hubs have been set up by the local authority, anxious to be seen to support local communities. They are promoting their top-down views of how “their” communities should develop and, for the time being providing financial and management props

If so-called community development does not come from the grassroots it will be oriented to the top-down mindset of any organisation which is promoting it.  This will delay the emergence of authentic grassroots growth. Most important it will stifle the emergence of an ecological future.  In the end, development in such localities will wither away because they will lose both their top-down support (which will not be sustainable) and their opportunity for authentic grassroots development.

The message from the grassroots must be: ”Keep out of our patch.  The future is ours.”

First published in the Deep Transformation Network.

Posted in collapse, de-growth, economy, evolution, local community, the future | Tagged | Leave a comment