The value of an accurate worldview during times of turbulence is particularly critical, to individuals, businesses, and to nations. Distinguishing the ‘Chicken Littles’ from those praying for Armageddon from the prophets… is now more vital than ever. It will be our worldviews that set us up for how we will navigate what, in the wild resiliency model, I reference The Winds of Change: Dancing at the Edge of Chaos. Navigating the Narrows is a related theme and category on this blog.
Below is an excerpt from a view I suspect is on the prophetic side, from a self-described “optimistic” perspective. And for the fear such scenario worldviews might engender in us, I offer this as perspective and antidote: Life’s Two Fiery Questions.
This is the time we have been waiting for. Some of us, anyway. We wanted a better world, and we might just get it. The old one had to fall and get out of the way, and this must be finished for the sake of our faltering climate and for our own sakes. Meanwhile the old guard is floundering around and is as useless as tits on a bull, as my father used to say. People are still mesmerized by power and imagery, but the luster and facade are fading. While some government spending can be along healthy lines, it is certainly not “the answer.”
We have entered the time of the most rapid, sweeping change in culture. Great changes are in the works for the way people live and think. We are just beginning to see the failure of not just easy credit and overspending, but the failure of living for money and material things. Granted, most participants in the growth economy thought that’s how things were supposed to work, and now they feel at a loss. These are people who have had little use for traditions of their ancestors. They thought nature was something to dominate into submission and rape for pleasure and profit. They thought technology placed us above all life forms as well as primitive peoples, and that we could cast any number of them into the extinction bin. For we could continue to extract resources forever and solve any problem.
Now the humbling has begun, on several levels. By now only an idiot isn’t worried about climate change. Now that we know full well what we’re doing to the ecosystem, how can any sane person put the economy first instead of integrating it with ecology?
The older world we threw out — when our parents and grandparents embraced techno-conveniences and slacked off on the responsibility of educating their own children to learn what the great-grandparents knew — is going to return shortly. Preserving food, repairing things, sitting down to all meals together, amusing ourselves with creativity and conviviality (instead of with machines in isolation), knowing our relatives well, respecting the land and waters that give us life — such traditions are not choices but requirements for survival. And it’s fun to survive, or more fun than the alternative. The individual will again feel pride that what one does matters to the community while not harming the planet. This does not mean that there won’t be opportunists and mistaken people obstructing positive change. But with the end of the old order and its narrow mindset of paving over the farmland for “progress” — largely because it will no longer be possible — we can’t help but restore our village ways and tribal ways of mutual aid, once again serving the common interest over personal gain. For we have just seen the era of personal gain start its free fall to the trash heap. Stimulus? Too bad there’s not any discussion on what might be stimulated for the needed fundamental change.
A common error is to promote sustainable systems in a vacuum as if their logical superiority over idiotic and subsidized capitalist anachronisms need only to be made available. It’s great to promote them, provided they are not pie-in-the-sky technofixes. The problem is that good models are suppressed as long as the dominant system is intact or while petroleum is available. Therefore, the right course of action is to pursue the kinds of alternative models that both starve the beast and educate people to reject the present system. Then people can start to glimpse a better culture of sustainability and all that goes with it: sensible economics, co-leadership, compassion for the rest of the Earth’s species, and the realization that we will never get another chance like now.
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Jan Lundberg was an oil-industry analyst who ran Lundberg Survey in the 1980s. Since then, in addition to becoming an environmental advocate he became a generalist. In 1988 he formed the nonprofit Fossil Fuels Policy Action, now Culture Change, the longest running peak oil group.