Age of Awareness
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Age of Awareness

Photo: Daniel C. Wahl

“Every -ism creates a schism”- Avoiding the habit of othering

Session with the student on the post-graduate programme of the Indian School of Development Management (Nov. 2019)

In this short section from my webinar with the ISDM students I was asked about what I thought about “eco-modernism” and “left accellerationism” and ended up quoting my mentor Satish Kumar in saying that “every ‘ism’ creates a schism”.

All these labels that end in ‘-ism’ are making it easy for us to search for some trigger memes or keywords that indicate what category we can sort the people who are communicating with us into and then stop listening to the person in front of us based on our already formed judgement of the ‘other’ we just categorised them to be part of.

In categorising people as proponents of such ‘-isms’ and then either approving of or dismissing them on the basis of that labeling, we miss the individual experience and perspective that the unique person in front of us might have to offer. We miss an opportunity for learning and a healthy disagreement, possibly even the potential for transformative innovation.

Regenerative practice is about paying attention to the unique essence that each person, place, community or region has the potential to express in ways that enrich, add value to and heal the nested wholeness in which we participate. This means listening deeply to place and people and sensing into how place and people are transforming us as we pay such attention to their uniqueness.

Eco-moderism’s technological optimism of expecting that we can use the right green eco-technologies to create a sustainable human presence on Earth might be only partially justified and at the same time partially mistaken. On the other hand I also don’t feel that comfortable with the Wrong Kind of Green approach that outright dismisses all those working on the ‘New Green Deal’ or corporate engagement in crossing the bridge of sustainability towards regeneration.

We need to all work together to respond wisely and in time. This also means staying vigilant towards corporate co-option, the infiltration of the neo-liberal agenda into large NGOs, the danger of a well-meaning multi-capital approach being perverted into another form of enclosure of social relationships and reduction of healthy ecosystems functions and beauty to purely numeric monetized ecosystems services. But let’s stay engaged. Let us work with those trying to transform the political, UN and corporate systems from within. I know there are many good people with integrity working in these systems.

[…] we decided to skip over the ‘left accellerationism’ as the students did not respond to my invitation to explain what they meant by that term.

I highlighted that — in my opinion — as we bring in new thought forms and frameworks it is normally the case that we are limited by some of the language and organising ideas of the past that no longer serve. So we are always only partially “right” and also partially “wrong”. If we accept that about ourselves and understand that about others than we can more easily hold the disagreements lightly and simply aim to listen for the bit of wisdom that the other is sharing.

Let us pay more attention to how quickly the use of ‘-ism’ can lead to categorisation, othering and dismissal. If we do that we might accelerate learning and grow new social muscle for collaboration in the “field beyond right or wrong” (as Rumi called it) — the field of co-evolving mutuality in which we are able to truly embrace, hold, and value diversity.

reGeneration Rising!

4 minute video excerpt from Daniel Wahl’s webinar with the students of the Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), November 2019

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Daniel Christian Wahl — Catalyzing transformative innovation in the face of converging crises, advising on regenerative whole systems design, regenerative leadership, and education for regenerative development and bioregional regeneration.

Author of the internationally acclaimed book Designing Regenerative Cultures




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Daniel Christian Wahl

Daniel Christian Wahl

Catalysing transformative innovation, cultural co-creation, whole systems design, and bioregional regeneration. Author of Designing Regenerative Cultures

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