On a personal note: The move out of our home in Redmond Oregon and the move into our new motorhome have definitely played havoc with my ability to focus on writing the Stonyhill- Nuggets. I’ve been able to do a lot of reading but finding the time, and undistracted quiet needed to write has been all but impossible.
But on reflection, I think it might have been exactly what needed to happen. It has given me the opportunity to read and think more deeply about the changes that are coming. Changes that will threaten our world and life as we know it… especially the lives of our children and grandchildren.
The move has given me time to reflect on;
- how we might work together to prepare for those changes and
- begin creating the resilience that we, and the future generations we care about, will need to cope with those life-altering changes… and the threats to life as we know it those changes will create for all of us.
It feels good to be back at the writing. It is an understatement to say that these are challenging times. As always, the Stonyhill-Nuggets will focus on issues that concern all of us… our future, our well-being, and our quality of life.
The future is not what it used to be. And the skills that will be needed for us to survive the changes that are coming will challenge all of us.
So, let’s jump in and get started. It feels good to be writing again.
“What If” …. The Two Most Important Words of Our Time
Most of us know that the world is changing in ways that leave us uncomfortable and powerless… even frightened. We know the future is not what it used to be. It’s impossible to read a newspaper or watch the media news without daily reminders that the life-altering changes that threaten to change our future are already here. And their impact on our lives will continue to become more extreme.
Stated simply, we have attempted to unconsciously create a human civilization obsessed with never-ending progress and unlimited growth on a finite and limited planet.
Our global economy is based on individual profit and greed; a system that has created an unsustainable gap between the poor and the wealthy. Our dependence on petroleum has resulted in global warming, climate/storm intensification, drought, flooding, starvation, and social unrest. The level of debt has risen globally to unsustainable levels. When that debt comes due for repayment, the defaults will destabilize the economic foundation of the global economy.
The days of kicking the can down the road are coming to an end. We are rapidly coming to a fork in the road. One path will continue us toward chaos and collapse. The other path will take us to a more sustainable world.
Regardless of which path we choose to take… life as we know it will change.
We know we have to change the way we live. We know our human civilization is unsustainable. We know there is no way our planet can support our western economy and the lifestyle we enjoy for all of the 9 billion people that live on our planet… a number that is rapidly heading toward 11 billion by mid-century.
We know we are rapidly running out of time to embrace reality and incorporate the changes that are necessary to create a sustainable world. We know humanity in our Western cultures has to embrace a simpler lifestyle and reduce our levels of consumption. But most of us are not willing to voluntarily embrace the pain that would be created as we struggled to simplify our lives. We would rather deny the urgency of the problem and put off the actions needed to another day.
Unfortunately, reality is forcing us to make a decision… now.
We have the ability to adapt and begin solving the problems we have unconsciously created. The problem is not our ability; the problem is our denial. Our unwillingness to accept the reality that we are out of time. Change is coming whether we are ready for it or not. We can no longer continue;
- Denying the reality of global warming and storm intensification that is increasing daily.
- Denying three decades of alarming warnings by 97% our environmental scientists.
- Denying the reality that much of the planet is already struggling with dislocation and starvation due to drought and social collapse.
- Denying the harm being caused by massive debt and wealth inequality that increases the wealth of the 1% at the expense of the poor.
- Denying the reality that the utopian future we have imagined based on unlimited economic expansion and growth is unsustainable and headed for economic and ecological collapse.
Our illusions and dreams of the future are rapidly becoming frightening nightmares.
As I listen to the media, talk with folks about the problems facing us and the life-altering changes that are coming, and read about the challenges that are coming… I am appalled at the level of denial. I understand that it’s human to deny realities that would cause personal pain, suffering, or discomfort. I understand the reason for the denial. I get it. It’s normal, and it’s human.
But I also understand that historically, humans eventually choose to embrace reality. We understand that denial only works for a while. Eventually, reality wins! The threats can no longer be ignored. We stop avoiding what makes us uncomfortable and begin to take action.
The problem, of course, is that humanity too often chooses to awaken to the realities that threaten us when it’s too late to avoid a crisis. This is especially true when the threat grows slowly day-by-day. Too often we are like the proverbial frogs in the pot sitting on top of a stove that is slowly warming the pot. We tend to awaken and respond only when the consequences have become too painful to ignore. When it is too late to optimally create the resilience, we will need to survive.
But we do wake up! And when we do, and when we work collectively to deal with the challenges that face us, we can change the world and the future.
So, the question I like ask those I talk with is……. “what if”.
What if the environmental scientists are right about global warming and the threat it represents to our planet and human civilization and life as we know it? How long do you want to ignore that reality?
What if the storms are going to intensify even if we globally begin to embrace the challenges and changes that will be needed to reverse the direction our planet and human civilization is currently headed toward. How long do you want to ignore that reality? How much pain and chaos are you willing to accept and deal with?
What if debt and wealth inequality are going to the destroy the modern world the same way they have destroyed virtually every human empire in history? History is clear. Wealth inequality is the path to empire collapse. How long do you want to ignore that reality?
What if our warming planet crosses the tipping point of no return? Our environmental scientists are warning us we may have already reached some of those dangerous tipping points. How long do you want to ignore that reality?
What if your denial or unwillingness to embrace reality is actually a path to chaos and suffering due to lack of preparation and the resilience that comes from preparation? Are you willing to accept the pain and suffering if we fail to take action soon enough?
I believe that the only way to break through the denial that has us paralyzed is by embracing the simple question “what if”? How far do you want to push your denial of reality? How much pain and suffering are you willing to accept? How far do you think you can push your denial of reality and still survive?
We all want to be right in our personal beliefs and opinions. We all want to avoid discomfort, pain, and suffering. That is normal and human. But “what if” you’re wrong? Will you willingly accept the pain and suffering that will come if you’re wrong?
I am convinced that when a person asks those simple questions and actually looks at the realities that threaten our planet and life as we know it, they will find the courage and wisdom to begin embracing the changes that all of us are going to need to embrace. Whether we deny the reality of the changes that are coming, or whether we take action to deal with those changes… life as we know it is going to change. We are going to have to face the inconveniences and personal pain that will come when life as we know it is disrupted. Why? Because facing those inconveniences and personal discomfort will be insignificant compared to the pain and disruption they will face if the reality of “what if” happens… and we have failed to prepare for the certain changes reality is bringing us.
At some point, the need to be right in our opinions will give way to the realities that are coming… far sooner than denial believes. It may be human to deny what is difficult to accept, but reality will win in the end. The only way that makes any sense to me is to prepare for those changes because a good definition of crises is “lack of preparation”.
Resilience and the ability to survive will depend on our ability to embrace reality and begin now to prepare for the changes that are coming.
Yes, we have the right to our own personal opinions, beliefs, and assumptions… but… I am reminded daily of the wisdom of that great philosopher John Wayne when he said; “You can’t fix stupid”. I believe that denial in the face of overwhelming facts, data, and observable reality… is a good definition of stupid.
It’s our collective responsibility to respond and participate in the creation of our collective future. When the disruptive impacts of the coming changes have arrived and changed life as we know it, our failure to act cannot be blamed on someone else. Blaming others won’t hold water when it’s “we” who have failed to step up to our responsibility and accept the challenge to join the human movement to prepare. Claiming we didn’t know will not be an acceptable excuse for having denied the overwhelming facts, data, and observable reality. Our lack of resilience will be its own reward.
We are the only evolved species on our planet with the ability to imagine, anticipate, or create its own future. I am hopeful that we have the collective wisdom and courage to embrace that ability. Because we can only create what we can imagine, it’s time to collectively imagine what a sustainable and just world might look like… and then roll up our collective sleeves and get to work creating that future.
Note: in future Nuggets, I will take a more in-depth look at each of the life-altering changes that threaten our collective future… and how we can begin to prepare for them and create the resilience, we will need to cope with those coming changes. Giving into despair and hopelessness is not an option. We have to hang onto hope and begin working for the future and the quality of life we want to create for ourselves and future generations. This is our world. We can participate in actively creating its future or sit passively wringing our hands waiting for the changes that are coming to impact our lives, the lives of our children, our grandchildren, and future generations. Like it or not, this is the only choice and decision the future is offering us.
I believe we are wise enough to embrace reality and work together collectively to change the future we have unconsciously created. Collectively we can create any reality we can imagine. Lack of imagination will be our greatest failing. Embracing and nurturing our imagination our greatest strength.