Tuesday, 21 January 2014

It's a new day, it's a new dawn...

We need a new Discourse of the future.

Now that it seems abundantly clear that Environmental Change connects to Climate Change links to Social Change relates to Political Change, let's get into the habit of seeing these as all one larger entity - a Meta-change - needed for the transformation of the whole package of how we collectively interact with each other and our home, in order to move towards a brighter future and avoid the impending catastrophe.

This is not an attempt at simplification, nor a call to reduce the many issues down to one 'big idea'. Rather, see it as a recognition that all these, and other issues for the future, such as greater security, greater liberty, greater justice; these are interconnected so much that to engage in changing one also has implications in all the other 'spheres'.

In other words, they are causally linked.

This Meta-change then is the re-directing of the Juggernaut of progress away from its current course (apparently) towards destruction/damnation, towards one which is, if not free of problems, at the least more promising, for our environment and ecology, for our societies, for the Global Climate, for the security and stability of our parts.

In all honesty, all the 'negative waves' are starting to get to me. After a while, true or not, 'We're all doomed' is a miserable mantra to measure our lives against. We need something new, more optimistic, more hopeful, more positive (well, I'm speaking for both of us here...).

I'd also argue that we need something for folks to hold on to, to aspire to, rather than something which speaks of fear, loss and despair. What might this look like? Well for certain the whole discourse of climate change will need an overhaul.

I'm drawn to an analogy of the early settlers in the USA, and the myth of the pioneer. These people, whilst clearly lacking in the liberties and opportunities they aspired to in Old Europe, apparently arrived in the New World with a collective attitude which was largely positive. They wanted to create a better place, closer to Heaven. They wanted to relate to the mystical in ways which were, at the time, often non-conformist. They wanted the freedom to own their own piece of land and work it. To this end, in the nineteenth century, the European New World Diaspora spread out westward, towards a 'promised land'.

Now, the Pilgrim Fathers (sic) and their contemporaries could have seen things differently; the prospect of leaving the familiar and known behind, setting out across vast distances in the face of hostile Nature, with the prospect of as-yet unknown dangers and difficulties, with disparate groups of broadly like-minded but determinedly individualistic communities, no certainty of the simplest of securities such as food, no knowledge of the New World as it already existed; this could have left them feeling that maybe the uncertain rewards didn't justify the more or less certain risks. But they persisted.

Likewise, the pioneer trails which drove west from the early colonies were occupied by people for whom there were plenty of obstacles to be overcome, in return for uncertain promises. This did not stop them, if they even thought about it at all.

Where's the analogy? Let us imagine that the Present - our World as we live in it now - is the Colony/Society with which we are familiar. The Future is the horizon and beyond. We have some differences; our level of comfort is greater, our inertia, the fear of losing what we already hold, is probably greater now than it was then. But on the other hand, the uncertainties of our current state, drawn forward in time, are more real and dangerous.

We have the opportunity to roam along a trail towards a better future. We have the chance to set out in hope and try to make something new and better. So, I say, the time is coming to ditch the discourse of despair and replace it with the language of hope, of aspiration, of pioneering. Like Star Trek.

Hopefully, more on this later...