Remember Mystery Science Theater 3000? Yeah, wacky times. In our house we invented a variant called “Short Attention Span Theater.” It’s wildly on display in modern life. Yeah, wacky times.
One way: the inability (or unwillingness) of our mass mediators and churnalists to cover more than one story at a time. One example: in the early days of Russia’s war on Ukraine, the IPCC released its devastating new report on climate change. The upshot: “’There’s no going back’ — and there’s no room for wishful thinking, top climate scientists say.” Yeow! Right? But mainstream news coverage: minimal to nil.
As for complexity…(balki)https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6b-FFwVFMME
- Ukraine is about Russian aggression, but also about the dance of empires, and tectonic shifts in the “world order” we’ve taken for granted for the last three-quarters of a century. (Which is maybe a pretty long time in huma affairs.)
- The Covid pandemic is about a particularly nasty virus, but also about the shifting urban/rural interface, human immune response, politicization of public health, and the vast inequalities in care (and in everything else).
- The climate crisis is about “the existential problem of our time”, but also about the decline or soils, oceans, and ecosystems‚—and is merely symptomatic of the deeper underlying crises of an extractive economy and a poisoned planet.
I wouldn’t have expected President Biden to tie these all together, but he missed a great opportunity at his State of the Union address to bring forward climate as the national security issue that it is (as Bill McKibben and others had urged), when he could have boxed in the his political opponents and forced their applause.
Meanwhile, most companies, countries, and cities are failing to act with with the courage and consistency on climate and Covid that they’ve displayed on Ukraine. But what if they did? What might that look like? What might that require of them—and of their leaders and “stakeholders”?
How do we prepare ourselves for unknowable futures? How do we hold ourselves as we attempt to birth new worlds amidst the turmoil, in what Antonio Gramsci, 100 years ago, called “the time of monsters”? That’s some of what we explore in our monthly Living Between Worlds zoominars (resuming this Wednesday, 16 March, at 12p PDT). And it’s core to the conversations that Natural Logic provokes with our corporate and coaching clients—facing the underlying challenge:
How will we learn to do business, and everything we do, as though we belonged to the living world?
HOW DO WE PREPARE OURSELVES?
- Read some history. (I’m not going to attempt to unpack the war here, except to note that the eight year version, the 11 year version, the 21 year version and the 30 year version might offer you very different perspectives than the one month version in which we mostly find ourselves.)
- Listen to different voices—and especially to unfamiliar voices. All of us encounter the world through our own interpretations of what we observe, and what we observe is filtered through our interpretations…as much a function of who we are, how we were shaped, what we care about, and how that was shaped, as it is a function of “what’s so.”
- Accept your lack of control over and inability to predict how events will unfold, and how profoundly contingencies shape what we encounter, how we engage…, and the very possibilities we see…or don’t see.
- Embrace your ability to act meaningfully nonetheless, and to affect, in some ways, at some scale, what might unfold—and, in particular, how yand where you will stand in the midst of the unfolding.
SPEAKING OF READING
Last year I recommended Down to Earth, Bruno Latour’s provocative exploration of the climate crisis, lifeboats, solidarity, critical zone. This year I’m immersed in Latour’s After Lockdown: A Metamorphosis, his meditation on COVID and the Pandemic Era. But be careful; both of them will shake you.
Meanwhile, please consider this from Brazilian polymath Roberto Mangebeira Unger’s wikipedia page:
“To think about social transformation programmatically, one must first mark the direction one wants society to move in, and then identify the first steps with which we can move in that direction. In this way we can formulate proposals at points along the trajectory, be they relatively close to how things are now or relatively far away. This provides a third way between revolution and reform. It is revolutionary reform, where one has a revolutionary vision, but acts on that vision in a sequence of piecemeal reforms. As Unger puts it, transformative politics is ‘not about blueprints; it is about pathways. It is not architecture; it is music'”.
THREE WAYS TO WORK WITH US
- Coaching and thought partnerships: one-on-one tough love support for leaders and emerging leaders, to build your effectiveness, power, presence, and peace of mind.”
- On-Demand Learning: The new release of the MySustainOnline on-demand micro-learning platform in 100+ languages is right around the corner. I’ll have details for you next time.
- Full Cycle Sustainability: We don’t do CSR or ESG. We develop strategy, design practices, and support implementation—shoulder to shoulder with your teams—grounded in 3.8 billion years of open-source R&D…to get everyone in your organization on the same page…with a clear line of sight connecting actions, aspirations, and purpose…to deliver on aggressive, realistic goals…that move us closer to the world we need faster than we even thought possible.
Is there something for us to do together? Let’s talk!