It’s difficult right now for most of us.
We’re used to dealing with an amount of uncertainty, in certain parts of our lives, now and again.
Today however, we’re faced with multiple uncertainties, from Cornonavirus to Climate Change, and it’s affecting many parts of our lives from our ability to earn a living today, to whether our job will be there tomorrow, and if so, what it will look like.
As we move into winter, the background constant uncertainty as to what weather it will bring and how it will affect us.
The certainties we have been brought up on are failing, from assuming our education would get us a job, to assuming that job would provide a pension, to the level of confidence we have in our leaders in most spheres of our lives.
I have always found archetypes a useful way of thinking about situations, and the people in them. One of my favourite books (and there are many) is King, Warrior, Magician, Lover for the way it gives a good understanding without getting into the depths of Jungian Analysis (which is worthwhile, but only when you want to).
The point is this – we all have many different ways of being who we are depending on the situation we find ourselves in. Sometimes we’re happy to follow and support, at other times open to the beauty around us. At other times, we need to lay claim to what is ours and look after it and at other times to fight for what we believe in.
The warrior archetype is not neccesarily about physical fighting, it is about commitment to a cause. For some right now it will be family, or community whilst for others, like Greta Thunberg it might be the planet. For Margaret Wheatley in “Who do we choose to be?” it’s about the human spirit.
What they have in common is an absolute commitment to a set of beliefs and values. Things that matter beyond money, and comfort , and convenience. The things that matter enough for you to stand up and be counted.
I like this introduction to the Warrior Archetype by Steven Pressfield (I am also a fan of all his work. His series on the Warrior Archetype is recommended)
My point is this. Many of us, for a long time, have been able to ride on the back of a flawed economic model which assumed we could continue to take – from the earth, from what we shared, and in the end from each other, without limit and without giving back. We are now bumping, noisily and painfully into the fundamental error of that assumption.
The warrior in us is bound to our own “code of honour”, and in turn to those others with whom we share it. The problem occurs when our culture and society have different codes.
We can see warriors in action today, in the NHS, in the Police. Fire Service and armed forces, in teachers and social workers. They are typified by putting purpose before money, and when it comes to it, themselves in harm’s way on our behalf.
Then we have the other end of the spectrum – the extractive jobs, those who sit in the stream of the flow of money able to drink effortlessly from that stream. The finance sector, those running platforms, the utilities and the like. Not “bad” people, just passive passengers “doing their job”
The problem occurs when the fate and resources of the warriors are controlled by those with a different, highly individualistic set of values. and no clear defined purpose other than their own wellbeing. The major clash of cultures we see at the moment, and standing outside our doors clapping the warriors is, at its most generous, a token gesture.
I think what it means for those of us in the middle with jobs that are neither activist, nor extractive is that we need to decide which edge we move to. To become either activists for the current system, and embrace those values, or to become activists for a different system exhibiting very different values in pursuit of very different goals,
The key though is activist.
Either for, or against. As the old adage goes, sitting in the middle of the road just gets you run over.
We each need to make a decision.
As to what to do? How to harness the uncertainty we feel?
That’s a whole new discussion.