There are people in the world who habitually say yes. And there are people who habitually say no. The people who say yes are rewarded by the adventures they get to go on, and the people who say no are rewarded by the safety they attain.
We now live in a world of complex challenges, not just complicated problems.
In an increasingly exponential world, there needs to be a distinct difference between our approach to tackling complex challenges as opposed to complicated problems.
The future is notoriously difficult to predict. Our shortcomings in seeing and extrapolating the exponential trends that will shape the coming century sets the stage for us to experience perpetual futureshock.
You ask me how I became a madman. It happened thus: One day, long before many gods were born, I woke from a deep sleep and found all my masks were stolen,–the seven masks I have fashioned and worn in seven lives,–I ran maskless through the crowded streets shouting, ‘Thieves, thieves, the cursed thieves.’
Men and women laughed at me and some ran to their houses in fear of me.
And when I reached the market place, a youth standing on a house-top cried, ‘He is a madman.’ I looked up to behold him; the sun kissed my own naked face for the first time. For the first time the sun kissed my own naked face and my soul was inflamed with love for the sun, and I wanted my masks no more. And as if in a trance I cried, ‘Blessed, blessed are the thieves who stole my masks.’
The more we wear our masks and play someone else’s role, the further away we are from our authentic selves. We lose trust and confidence in ourselves when we let others determine who we should be. Swayed by the opinions of others, we lose our own thoughts and start to second-guess ourselves. We ask others what role we should play and what lines we should speak, wishing to conform, trying hard to please them. Soon, our relationships suffer. Life ceases to flow freely through us, and as a consequence, we grow more and more frustrated, stressed, sick, and depressed. Soon we may simply burn out. This is why many people view depression as the state of being separated from our true self.
Many people, however, reach a tipping point, when they wake up and ask themselves the existential question: Who am I? They know they want to live more authentically, to live with more meaning. In effect, they are beginning to take the steps necessary to draw the line in the sand, remove their masks, and say;
THIS IS WHO I AM.
I have already written on the impossible speed at which our modern societies would need to change to avert global ecological collapse from unravelling in our lifetime. If allowed to go on unchecked for a little more than just another decade, industrial society is projected to push the biophysical systems past critical thresholds. Climate change, as example, would sound the death knell for coral reefs, the Greenland ice sheet and large parts of tropical rainforests. This would of course have major implications for human societies — from global crop decline, mass migrations, wars over water and all-round nastier politics than what we already experience today. If one thing should be clear, it is that this breakdown must be contained at any cost. It is the bedrock on which all other social progress is built.
An aspiration to contribute to the fight for ecological and social justice is what originally drew me to research the Anthropocene as Earth’s most recent geologic time period. A period being human-influenced, or anthropogenic, based on overwhelming global evidence that atmospheric, geologic, hydrologic, biospheric and other earth system processes are now altered by humans.
AND THIS IS NOT SOMETHING I AM READY TO TURN MY BACK ON.
SOWING SEEDS OF POSSIBLE FUTURES
Creating new models that will be needed to weather the storm that is coming. Educating, supporting the next generation do develop these models, concepts that will reflect the diversity of places they are attempted in, as well as the diversity of the people who will dream them. Like processes of natural selection to adapt to rapidly changing environments creating possible futures that will ensure that some of the seeds we put forward will take root, flourish, and possibly even be replicated by others later on.