Fire is a powerful metaphor.
People who know how to light fires in the wild, in the wet, in hostile conditions, have power. It’s an art form requiring a flow of oxygen, tinder, kindling and above all the ability to generate a spark or access to embers of an existing fire.
Welcome to the final quarter of 2020. Conditions seem pretty hostile as we head into winter. Our leaders in government and the world corporate have lost the tinder, can’t find the kindling and have forgotten who last had the matches, so are gathered round the dying embers of the fire that others built, warming themselves whilst they can.
One of our most basic needs, right at the base of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs (although, he never made it a hierarchy – that apparently was a consultant with an eye for marketing). Prometheus ended up in eternity having his liver pecked out daily for stealing it from the Gods.
Cleansing. Warming, Inspirational. Magical. The absolute best place around which to tell stories. Communication. The stuff of Beacons on a dark night.
In the North American Indian tradition, the fire carrier was a powerful and respected member of the tribe. When they moved camp, the fire carrier kept the embers of the campfire alive in a buffalo horn until they got to the new camp. It was both practical and symbolic, carrying the memory of where they had come from.
We are in a time of fire carriers. The people with ideas, and ideals around what comes next as we leave behind the myth of perpetual growth and are forced to recognise the unintended (but recognised for at least five decades) consequences of treating the planet and its other inhabitants as a source of infinite resource.
There are fire carriers all around us. They are inventing and trialling new ways of working, of making, of collaborating and making things of beauty that restore our balance with the planet. Generating and giving as well as taking. Expressing gratitude and looking after those around them. People who understand and embody a recognition of “enough”.
They are owners far more often than investors, people with “Skin in the Game” who take risks with open eyes and open hearts because they believe in what they do and would rather fail than not try. They are often small, chasing a different form of success based on the long term, and for whom scale is not compulsory. People who have learned from our mistakes, and are determined not to continue them.
Firecarriers need our support – we are their tinder and kindling. People who believe in better.
We can support them by paying attention to where we spend our money, on what, who it is created by and why they do it. If we pay attention to how we spend our money, we can warm ourselves at the fire they’re building.
Each fire is a beacon.