Indigenous 2.0?

Winter is Coming….

As we rein in what a few weeks ago we let loose, and we’re faced with several months of real constraint – back to working from home as default, restricted visiting, explaining to our grandchildren why my wife can visit them, or I can, but not a the same time (they don’t get it either) I think our horizons understandably shrink. We go from being global economic warriors to relative villagers.

We notice more of what goes on around us. Concerned people, people who have been made, or are in danger of being made redundant. We get to know the Amazon delivery driver better as he wanders past our window whilst we’re sat there in a Zoom meeting again. Personally I know three reasonable size business owners who are biting the bullet and either selling their offices or terminating leases in favour of smaller, easier and cheaper to get to occasional meeting spaces.

For many, our world is getting smaller and I think it’s no bad thing. Communities matter when it’s where you’re going to spend your time in these uncertain times. Those around you matter.

The New Nomads?

We know in our hearts that what was will not come back. That world in which we didn’t know the people on the third floor as well as our suppliers in Asia, or our neighbours as well as the people on the commute. We lived in a world of anonymous interchangeability.

Covid will pass, eventually, and our world will have changed. The changes it is forcing upon us will be valuable as we tackle our other major issues and find ways to reduce carbon, and waste, and inequality before it kills us.

I talk regularly to a farmer in Ireland. His family have been on the same land for over 300 years. His relationship with it, and his neighbours is a pleasure to see and I compare it with the relatively nomadic existence most our families live across generations.

Disturbed and redistributed by the forces of the industrial revolution, few of us live in the same village as our grandparents. Commercial pressures have disconnected us from family and place. We have become shallow rooted and belong to neither place nor organisation. We are easily uprooted by economic storms, and when that happens, where do we turn?

Indigenous 2.0?

Produced, growing, living, or occurring natively or naturally in a particular region or environment.

Merriam Webster

Having studied extensively during my time in business, and latterly as a coach I sensed that little of what I was reading and hearing related to the societies that host business and talked in anything other than quantified terms. It was based in on maximising individual performance within the context of a global economy.

I wondered what it might look like from the other end of the telescope, so I found myself some teachers whose work was based on older, indigenous wisdoms.

I think we have much to remember and relearn from those people. Their decline was rapid under the onslaught of colonialism, largely because they lived by very different rules. There is a great deal of similarity to those rules across different indigenous cultures, amongst which are:

  • Know the name of every being around you, human and non human, and respect the gifts they offer.
  • Take only what is freely given.
  • Take no more than you need.
  • Look after those who look after you.
  • Tread lightly and leave no trace of your passing on the Earth.

It may feel like the 11th hour, but we still have time if we take coronavirus for what it is, a signal to get our act together to balance the power of our science with older wisdoms to restore a balance that honours both and treats our world as something to be cherished and nurtured, not exploited as though it is disposable.

We have broken all these rules, some egregiously, and in less than 500 years have brought ourselves, and other beings on the planet perilously close to extinction for the sake of extraordinary financial wealth of a very few. We like to think we’re smart, but maybe not so much. In very particular ways? Certainly. As stewards of where we live? Not at all.

Indigenous 2.0. Understanding who we are in service of where we are, what we are part of and what we might create.

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