This is the time we have been waiting for. We are the people we have been waiting for...
As the most momentous year I can recall unravels and we enter new, uncharted territory, trying to spot threads, trends, predictions and patterns might seem almost futile, such was the rate of change and unexpected nature of everything. Here are a few random thoughts on where we might be headed.
Back in February, as we all started to take on board that something major was afoot, it didn't take any degree of advanced-level crystal ball-gazing to see that life would be turned upside down by the Covid 19 pandemic in ways that would change all of our lives forever. Even the normally conservative BBC were fast to acknowledge "the end of globalisation". For me, it was all about assimilating a lot of information in a short period of time, and learning how to instinctively trust sources, very much aware that a planetary awakening of sorts was unfolding.
I wrote this in late February as a precursor to what was to reveal itself.
Though this would be a rough passage for many, It was also a perfect time to re-think the 'doomsday machine'
To make this point succinctly, I'll leave this in the more-than-capable hands of writer Arundhati Roy, with this quote taken from her seminal Financial Times piece 'The Pandemic Is a Portal' from early April 2020.
I tested the efficacy of Roy's portal on a couple of friends.
Some might argue (as two friends do who saw this) that the portal might open our fate to (in one case) far-right fascism ("Isn't the pandemic is a portal through which far right thieves and liars are reaching to plunder and destroy at an accelerated rate?) whilst another was critical of the dreamery element "I get the romance and aspiration of that quote but these sorts of things don't give any picture of what the hard realities of an alternative would actually be.....and it's this that concerns me. "The road to hell is paved with good intentions" comes to mind. The closest I've seen is Schwabs WEF Great Reset.")
There is no doubt that governments have shown that they may hold (as things stand) 'power' in a way that it has not been exercised for decades. In that sense, some might choose to argue that sinister forces are conspiring to take away our freedoms and even produce evidence to back that up. But the reality for others is to look on and see (especially in the UK case) a government that is hopefully flailing, out of touch with people and science, has no inkling of vision for what is set to unfold and and is spouting empty rhetoric in an attempt to demonstrate some degree of control, as they follow rather than lead on the actions that, if put into place swiftly at the start, might have minimised the trauma the Uk (along with the most westernised nations) find themselves in.
A sense of balance is key now. As is a sense of not choosing polarity, sidestepping any 'othering' of people around us. It may not be easy, especially for those looking to apportion blame, but aiming to suspend 'judgement' wherever you can often brings surprising results. Have a listen to Betsey Downing's talk from Campfire's recent World Harmony Winter Solstice event here.
Part of what we build is values systems. Not least how we interact with the planet, its nature, its people, its animals, its trees, its oceans and its air, but how we move around it, what we grow on it, what we choose to consume from it. This isn't just a nice green advisory broadcast, it's life and death. It's a wake up call that, pre Extinction Rebellion, pre-Greta, pre Covid, many weren't aware they had to follow. We are all missionaries for these huge changes. We have to be. We have to believe that every conversation can make a difference and what we choose to talk about sets the agenda.
Campfire's Credo is an example of what we are evolving as a co-created values system. Check it here, as part of an extensive and evolving 'About Campfire' section.
That's not to say that there isn't room for occasional light-hearted banter, for art, for music, for comedy, for theatre. But now, in lockdown, this all has an added poignancy. It also has its best chance, as we cannot be as easily distracted.
We need to build new systems on a practical level while the old, outmoded ones dismantle and fall apart. Bit to do it with care and sensitivity. This is revolution but we're planting and growing seeds rather than throwing petrol bombs.
We are entering the era of the post-collapsed mindset but it's a place where we can do all the transition. We're not waiting for so-called leaders to guide us and save us, community is the future and we need to develop self-organising patterns. Joe Brewer's recent talk to Campfire's Eco Circle is well worth a listen on this subject.
Who was the wiser person who said "This is the time we have been waiting for. We are the people we have been waiting for."
Move beyond fear and we will find most of what we need.
As well as organisations and communities forming their own values systems we can each do our own. It helps give us a sense of orientation and mapping too individually, but it also starts to create a pattern that is useful for self-organising communities. Remember that things need to be fluid and adaptable, create hone, refine, tweak. Very little is set in stone and with Covid 19 in particular,we have to be agile and adaptable. We have to transmute our dreaming into reality.
Systemic Social Change will only happen with frameworks, frameworks, with concepts, with maps and resources for reference, with easily accessible concepts with slogans, with images that provoke and explain. So that other scan easily grasp and run with it. Check out Campfire member Julene Siddique's Systemic Social Change session from the recent World Harmony winter event. As she says "We can no longer turn a blind eye to structural violence and systemic failure. Inside the dark heart of structural violence are the keys of societal re-architecting that are in fact our only hope out of it."
Entrenched systems are not conducive to change. A post-collapse world offers all the possibilities for rebuilding in a very different way. Once we fully grasp the mechanisms for acting on this, the possibilities are endless.
Let's work closely together for the big change of our lifetime. The move from the prevailing mindset of scarcity and fear, from 'what's in it for me, Jack' to one 'for the good of all and planet'. Let's redefine what work is, what a media agenda is, what has value, what is in-sync with nature and what we can learn from that.
Let's move from a culture of plunder to one of nurture.
Working to nature's rhythms might help. Cultural healing through nature connection. We can learn a lot from the land, the soil, the seas, the wind, from animals, from the seasons, from the tides and the moon phases,. Let's honour those days of transition and light Beacons for change at solstice and equinox. let's reclaim Beacons, from monarchy and aristocracy. Let's make them days of celebrating life on earth and connection, move from parasitic, extractive economies to one's based on care for the planet as the underlying principle (listen to Kate Raworth's 'Doughnut Economics talk)
Let's Make Technology our Servant, not Our Master
Much of my ideas around Campfire's vision to empower our own community have already been expressed. We need a technology that is fit for purpose and I believe that we are now on the right track to get this happening in 2021 with an upgraded Campfire community site. Watch this space....
Let's gather the lights... let's slow down and disengage so we can better re-connect.
We each have part to play. Let's be the best versions of ourselves, let's go out and bring into being our dreams, let's create a commons through gathering, let's self-organise and reclaim our sovereignty in all respects.
We have a duty to young people. To be the ones who enable and empower their future. I said this in July as we welcomed our first digital intern Victoria Wheeler into the community.
"We've been keen for a while now to get moving with Campfire's 'kindling' initiative, welcoming young people into our circle. They are our future and often have more of a finger on the pulse than most of the so-called more mature members amongst us. Reading Mac MacCartney's 'Children's Fire' book and its quoting in parliament last year has helped shape an alignment towards a more interconnected, caring, empathic society that promotes inter-generational wellbeing and celebrates beauty in all its forms. We are earth’s protectors, custodians and stewards of the human and non-human kingdoms and we owe it to honour a commitment to leaving a more life-affirming legacy for our children and their future generations. We are gradually discovering how to be better ancestors. We need to be the shoulders that young people are able to stand on. Today has been an important step for Campfire and we had a very productive and inspiring first meeting with Victoria about some potential opportunities. I am impressed by her enthusiasm and outlook but equally by her intuitive grasp of what Campfire's vision and more importantly, its potential"
As we enter a New Year, we can bless, kiss off and put to bed the year that will be seen in history as one that kick-started fundamental societal change at the deepest levels.
Where are we now? I only have to look at my Zuckerbook feed this morning to see the stress, the anger, the illness (at least eight mentions of friends or friends of friends who have just picked up Covid) And there is likely to be wildly fluctuating moods, anger, sorrow, grief, inconsistency, retreat, isolation, hope, frustration, malaise.
Where this mindset is at is brilliantly summed up by my friend and major influencer for me this year @Julie Horsley in some of her best writing, even if it was on Facebook! She is saying it's ok to feel terrible and we mustn't forget this, as part of the process we are all working through:
"We're in the midst of a storm. When the wild storm comes to our lives it cannot be denied. Now is the time to step into the rain and howl, dance, cry, rage, scream, run, stomp, vent and laugh. Whirl, swirl and flow with the wind. Sad is perfect. Hopeless is perfect. Angry is perfect. Grouchy is perfect. Frustrated is perfect. Whatever is arising is perfect. We are elemental beings and can become the storm. Chaotic, tempestuous, disruptive. We are not, ever, in the wrong place though our minds might tell us a different story. When the storm passes everything looks more vivid, lush, verdant and sanctified somehow. Sometimes we too need to be torn apart so that we might heal; that we might find our own sacredness. which, at the centre is calm, balance and stillness."
So, more important than ever...
Let's look after ourselves and each other
Self care has never been more important in chaotic times, when nothing can really be planned and everything is likely to sudden change and disruption. Where do we find stillness and comfort, especially those of us living alone. For me, without the familiarity of my usual surroundings, living in a different country, without loving friends to depend on, I am re-orientating myself here on Paros in a new way. It can be disconcerting but it really opens me up to new experiences.
Therapy can be the simplest things that often bring the comforts. A warm shower a day but also massaging my own neck and shoulders as much as is possible, a brush to massage the body and back in particular, yoga or daily practise, meditation, cooking fresh food at least once a day with local fresh ingredients, walking out and feeling the sun, the wind, the change of direction of the wind, looking at the night skies. Immersion, in others words, in deep listening during Zoom calls, in musical compositions and whole albums,, in getting as close to nature as possible, in really being present for the contrasts of the day, in watching a sunset. In September the sun and moon rose in different places to where they do in mind-winter. We realise that nothing ever stays the same nor is it to be found in the place where we imagine it should be.
In being non-judgemental and displaying kindness to others. To check myself when I default into old patterns. There is much unravelling and re-calibrating to do at all levels. Self-observance never stops.
I believe that that much good will come out of this. To reiterate Joe Brewer's words, we need to search for and live in our rightful place in a climactically appropriate way. We need to be earth regenerators, whether actually living on land and working it to repair it or in a mre etheric sense, in the arts, in technology, in ideas dissemination, in teaching, in mentoring, in counselling, in therapy, in community building.
The catalysts, the conceptualists, the weavers, the makers, the storytellers, the magicians, the educators, community builders, the ecosystem managers... These are the callings of the future.
Happy New Year!