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When does “emergent” become “today?

“Emergent” is such a safe word.

It implies it isn’t here yet, that things are not clear, that we have time. In the process of becoming, but not yet here. If it’s emergent however, it also suggests it is going to arrive, and when it arrives, we’re going to have to come to terms with it, not talk about it.

When it does, we have a habit of talking about “unprecedented”. Unprecedented, in most cases is more a case of having been being wilfully ignored. Pandemics have been with us for millenia, we had one of even greater impact (I suspect – this one isn’t over yet) a century ago, with non- local (for the West) examples much more recently. Preparing for something that we know is highly likely, even inevitable, but not knowing when breaks the short term rules of efficiency and return on investment, represents inconvenient truth, and so we turn a blind eye to it.

Climate change is no longer emergent, nor is inequality, nor is biodiversity loss, or rising populism. Neither is a failing model of capitalism. These are not problems unless we choose to wilfuly ignore them. They are a function of consequence of our actions, and we can change those. What we called emergent a decade ago is no longer emergent, it is today.

Those who are heavily invested in what worked yesterday are happy to regard these things as emergent, and kick the can down the road for our children to deal with. It is, of course, the ultimate expression of selfishness.

I wrote testerday about a sense of quickening. It is, in a way I think, what we used to call emergent tapping us on the shoulder. What we do is an individual choice regarding what we consume, how we travel, in whose interest we work. It is not for somebody else to tell us what to do, it is individual choices we need to make today.

We can change down a gear from the detructive frantic if we choose.

Filed under: Articles

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Complexity and volatility create enormous opportunities for those willing to go beyond the boundaries of "business as usual" to explore the edges of their business. I am an entrepreneur, a coach, a creative thinker, and above all, an explorer of possibility.

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