As I listened to the news this morning, I detected perhaps more than a faint signal amongst all the noise.
After over twenty years of adventures in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Vietnam, America is moving away from overt attempts to “build nations” in its own image as it reaches the same conclusion – to its credit more openly – than Britain and other European countries did half a century ago.
BP struggled gamely but ineffectively to justify opening another eighteen oil fields at a time when the UK is hosting COP 26.
One in three wild trees worldwide is facing extinction (what is a tame tree, I wonder?), including cultural keystones such as the Oak.
I also came across a pretty brutal, but thought-provoking critique on the complicity of sustainability consultancies in our procrastination around taking the action we need to.
And the Economist ran an interesting article on the changing shape of the “creator economy”.
Individually, these things range from significant to less so, but together with other straws, from hybrid working to blockchain, reinforce what we already know – that the change we are in will not be linear, and that we are in it now.
America’s attempts at nation-building, like Britains before it, was not an unmitigated disaster. It left in its wake resources, infrastructure and other advantages that were in the end overshadowed by the hubris of believing that our way was the best way. Taking our ball home and closing the door is not a good response.
Energy companies are not villains, perhaps just complacent and detached from how people see their attachment to profits from public goods.
And those of us who work in sectors that support the people we criticise are equally accountable. Telling ourselves we cannot affect things is as culpable as the excuse of “only following orders”. We are what we purchase.
They may only be straws in the wind, but I think they ask an essential question of us. If the change we face is non-linear, therefore, full of surprises, how are we grounding ourselves for what might happen?
The consumption economy has encouraged us to be dependent – to seek approval through what we buy. Additionally, our culture has also encouraged notions of self-serving independence as we pursue our ability to consume and think of ourselves as free agents. Yet, the reality is that we have always been interdependent, not just with other people but with the natural world around us. Thus, what we face is not a change, just a belated recognition of reality.
As the sun goes down on what was, recognising that interdependence and acting on it is what will bring us out of the other side as the sun comes up.
Exercising gratitude for what we have, generosity in what do, and responsibility in what we take.
We have enough. We don’t need more, and our priorities have changed. We need different.
We don’t need a revolution, just working together, small act after small act every day in recognition of where we are and where we want our children to be.