“Here is Edward Bear, coming downstairs now, bump, bump, bump, on the back of his head, behind Christopher Robin. It is, as far as he knows, the only way of coming downstairs, but sometimes he feels that there really is another way, if only he could stop bumping for a moment and think of it.” ― A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh
I sometimes think that TIME – or rather our stories about and our management of TIME – is one of the biggest challenges we face. Think back to a typical week for you and your family. Decades ago, I remember the management guru Tom Peters saying “Attention is all there is. You are as good or bad as your calendar”. Looking at how you spend your time, what are you actually demonstrating about what is most important now?
We just crossed the safe threshold — it’s now certain that we will pass 1.5 degrees of warming.
And our civilization barely noticed. Barely an eye was blinked. Scarcely any words were said. How many conversations did you have about it? It barely made the headlines. Ask the average person, and they’ll give you a baffled look. They have no idea. Crossing the last thresholds of the greatest event in human history, and it barely makes the news.
Many of us are now aware that the future will be very different from the present – and that our current life-styles cannot and will not continue. The collapse of this civilisation (by which I mean this industrialised, globalised, growth-obsessed capitalist system) is not just inevitable – it’s already happening in many parts of the world. We in the UK are perhaps more fortunate than most. Or perhaps not, depending on the lens you’re looking through, and your level of wealth and privilege right now.
It’s also true to say that, as I write this in May 2023, many are NOT aware – but that will change, and probably quite soon.
HEART Community Group recently interviewed Zoe Blackler, who founded KAIROS – a members club and space in Central London. At Kairos, all discussion begins with the understanding that humanity is entering a period of radical transformation whether we’re ready or not.
You can watch that interview here
I love the name Zoe has chosen for this meeting space!
kairos (kī¦räs, ancient greek): a period of transformation that is both a great challenge and a fleeting moment of opportunity.
We are about to enter a period of rapid social and cultural change as a consequence of climate and ecological breakdown.
Global systems, political institutions, the role of individuals in community, our relationship to the future and even the stories we tell about what it means to be human – everything is heading into flux.
Yet mainstream discourse is failing to embrace the new reality.
It is fascinating to me that most indigenous people have a completely different perspective of time. For them, Time is non-linear and cyclical in nature. Time is measured in cyclical events. The seasons are central to this cyclical concept.
In our Western worldview, Time is usually linearly structured and future-orientated
Even for those who are somewhat ‘awake’ to all this, it often seems that one of the biggest barriers to radical personal change is getting off the hamster-wheel of business as usual. In my conversations with people, this is often expressed as things like:
- “I can’t come to that meeting or webinar even though I really want to – I have to drive my daughter to her ballet lesson/football practice/piano class
- “Yes, I realise that I work for a company that’s doing very destructive things, and I hate it – but it takes nearly all my time”
And our stories about MONEY are all tied up with this too, of course.
- “Well, you’ve got to keep paying the mortgage, haven’t you?”
I get it.
So, part of the resistance to dramatically altering our life is practical. But there’s a deeper reason too, I believe. One which is rooted in denial, consciously or unconsciously, about what is actually happening.
Our society is so deeply steeped in the “Five to Midnight” narrative: “There’s still time to turn all this around if we only …. (fill in the gap with your own chosen solution).
As Professor Rupert Read and others have argued cogently, this narrative was perhaps useful 30, or even 15 years ago. Now it’s dangerous, and actually stalls radical systems change. It’s no longer Five to Midnight – it’s at least Five Past.
I’m reminded of the movie “Don’t Look Up”, and the metaphor of the planet-destroying comet that is hurtling towards Earth. The more-than-emergency Life on Earth is facing right now is just as terrifying and potentially terminal as that comet.
This resistance and denialism is perfectly human and understandable. We can continue to feel good about ourselves, provided we recycle, buy an electric car, and get an air-source heat pump. What’s sometimes called “the hopium of the bamboo toothbrush”.
I know I sound very judge-y – I’m really not. We’re all, to a greater or lesser extent, imprisoned in this same cage of Business as Usual.
I’m just intensely curious about what it takes for each of us to wake up sufficiently to realise that we need to have a radically different focus now – from consumer to citizen with agency.
We know from research that just giving people more information doesn’t work. Peer pressure seems to work best – seeing other people that we respect and trust behaving differently.
Is it courage we lack, or imagination, I wonder? Are we just selfish?
Perhaps a big part of it is that many people just don’t know what they can do.
I’ve been getting clearer and clearer about “What is Mine to Do” in the meta-crisis our civilisation faces. And it is this:
I offer emotional, psychological and spiritual support to those who have woken up to the meta-crisis, and help them to answer the question “What is Mine to Do?”. To help them find that sweet spot between what the world most needs now, what brings them the most joy, meaning and purpose – and best uses their skills, strengths and talents.
This will be the focus of my next book, which is beginning to emerge now.
I also do this through my 4-day Edge Retreat (find out more here), which I offer four times a year with a group of 20 people each time. Lest you think I’m trying to sell you something, know that all our work here at HEART is offered in the gift, so there’s nothing to pay.
So, contact me at email@example.com if you’d like to find out what is YOURS to do.