Now everything has to change
I never expected this. The end of the world sneaking up on us. Forcing us indoors. Keeping us at home. Its a completely different form of apocalypse, but I feel that it will leave a very different world behind it.
As 2020 dawned, a new decade offered some kind of marker, a way to draw a line in the sand and start again. We had a growing environmental movement, a rising right wing political take-over, all sorts of new technologies and, for me, and many people I know, a growing tension, a desire to do something that mattered.
Then staying at home.
Then the western world, and most of everywhere else, stopping, shutting down and turning off the factories. The air becomes breathable, the dolphins return to Venice, the USA turns towards socialism without Bernie and the UK NHS is once again a national treasure. OMFG! What now?
Now, we all have to learn to change. Now the easy consumer lifestyle just imploded. Now more than half the people I know don’t have jobs anymore. Now my son keeps flipping out because shopping is no longer a valid form of entertainment. Now everyone, almost, has to find a way to do their jobs online. Now I may never see my parents again because they are on the other side of the world and I fear that air travel will be too expensive for normal people. Now I’m having to find new ways of educating my son because you can’t really believe that school can keep working just as before. Now everything is chaos. Now I need to breathe. Now I can cry.
Soon, it will all be different. Soon we will get used to the staying at home and staying away from people. Soon we might be fighting over more than toilet paper in the shops. Soon we will need to mourn for India and Africa, and everywhere where staying at home doesn’t work. Soon the recession will hit.
That’s the bit that will really force us to change.
When there is far less money to go around, we’ll realise just how easy we have had it for the last few decades. To get through the next bit, we’re going to have do things a little differently.
Firstly, we’ll need to remember what community is. What its like to look after each other, to share. If we get the community right, we can remember our humanity. That reclaiming of our mammalian interconnection can then become a source of incredible creativity. Get that bit right, and we open the door to a future that seemed impossible last year.
Secondly, we need to change the way we do things together, change the way our organizations work, change the way we do business. The economic environment is going to be extremely volatile over the next few months or years, and any business that cannot keep up will struggle. Those that invest in the capacity to transform themselves will take over.
At personal and collective levels, we must all learn new tricks. These times of crisis are crucibles that forge us into new shapes at a rate far faster than any of us would choose. Since most of us tend to choose to not change shape, then any change is too fast — but this is extreme for all of us. The thing that I truly believe is that the place to look for the most important change is not in the machines, it’s in the space between humans.
In a time of unprecedented change, there are no external landmarks to guide our journey. We cannot look to any institution, we cannot follow any kind of “best practice”, we can’t wait to be told what to do. In these times, we just have to look to each other.
It’s time to learn to communicate. Time to learn to be honest. Time to understand what it means to trust. Time to be human.
That is how we step through the door that has been opened.
(And know that there are other ways too. Some of them are very dark. So, let us get started.)