“We can’t solve the problems by the same kind of thinking we used when creating them”
The world is changing fast now. Thundering waves are eroding our rocks. And most of us only see the negative excesses. Destruction, inequality, and oppression. Politicians are trying to force limited routes out of the mess. They have different worldviews. And we currently categorize them in left and right.
The Left wants a big government. Curtailing free markets. Controlling businesses so they do as little harm as possible.
The Right wants the free market to be left alone. They say the market will solve all problems in the end.
Let me tell you, both of them are wrong. The eroding wave that will save us all is made out of collaborating, compassionate human drops. Not left, nor right, just human. And regenerative.
The left might feel a little more human than the right but they overlook the fact that we need businesses to create economic activity and wellbeing for our communities. Creating value is something we definitely need to stimulate in our economic system. Left-wing politics will not solve the problems.
The right has been dominant in capitalist economies for a long time now and we see that the market has not solved all. It has made a few people at the top filthy rich and the rest of us are struggling to make ends meet. So, right-wing politics are definitely no solution.
So, what is the solution then? Regenerative practitioners have a worldview that will bring change on all counts. The new, human politics are not left nor right. We concentrate on healing the mess and creating a fair, inclusive world with entrepreneurship, sciences, and wise governments.
Let me give you an overview of what new, human politics involve.
An economy is another word for creating value in a system. But because we have created walls between the economy, the commons, and the ecosystem functions, our system doesn’t work properly. Different organizations and institutions are responsible for these three elements that shape our world.
A fair and regenerative economy is aligned with the ecology and the human spirit. It is possible. I write about examples all the time. So, what do we need to know to find our own personal role in the great transition?
Let me first give you a little background about current economic business models, the commons, and the ecosystem functions.
Old Economy Is Linear
In the economy, businesses create value. But businesses are a bit short-sighted. They have linear business models in which they create only one core product. To keep the business simple and efficient, they eliminate all messy elements that they are creating at the same time.
Waste, pollution, toxic workplaces, and burned-out people are so-called externalities. Companies throw these problems over the wall to society. Companies don’t feel responsible for their own sh*t. Citizens and governments accept this as ‘normal’.
The Tragedy of the Commons
The commons are the fulfillment of people’s basic needs. They are not owned by an individual. They are owned by us all. They include things like health, mobility, community, and education.
The commons become a tragedy when no one feels responsible. Many governments have privatized the commons with the result that money-making is dominating all important matters.
Citizens and governments have a Sisyphus job in our current system. Remember the guy who rolls the ball up the hill? When he arrives sweating at the top of the hill, the ball rolls back again. We are all Sisyphuses in the current system.
We are all the time trying to clean up the mess that attacks our common health but is created by our own economic activity. We can never truly succeed if individual people and people in companies don’t take action. If the system doesn’t change.
The ecosystem functions are the basis of all life on this planet. Some people call them ecosystem services. Mother Nature gives us all we need to create value for ourselves and other species. She gives us oxygen to breathe and water to drink.
In our current world, the ecosystem functions are the domain of NGOs. They try to rescue what our economic activity is destroying every minute of every day. WWF made a clear illustration of the ecosystem functions.
Okay, so what do new, human politicians do? They hang out a big flag with the words CARE and RESPONSIBILITY. And they inspire all people, including themselves, to be wise people motivated by LIFE only.
They see a radical future. They dare to stop pleasing the lobbyists for broken vested interests and explain carefully to all citizens why they take certain actions. Their vision is understandable for all, including children, and gives a zoomed-out, long term view. Their short-term action plans are a result of this view.
They find upstream solutions with multi-stakeholder teams. They favor design solutions over technology that destroys. They only allow technology that supports life in the right systemic settings. They will make ecocide a crime.
From Scarcity to Abundance
Politics and economies as we know them now are based on the principle of scarcity. We think everything is limited and that we have to compete to survive.
Between countries, this competition leads to war. Between businesses, this competition leads to more pollution and waste. And within society, this competition leads to polarization. We see only our own interests and fail to see another person’s viewpoint.
All this fighting is not necessary if we shift our mindset to abundance. There’s enough of everything on our planet. Mother Nature is in essence abundant. Scarcity is invented by humans.
In order to deal with this abundance in a wise way, we need to make our creating systems for economies, commons, and ecosystem functions as diverse as possible. If we do, Mother Nature will support us with even more abundance.
Wisdom means that we need to garden our world instead of trying to control her. We, humans, are part of the living organism of our planet. And if we play our roles wisely, we can come far and live thriving lives. All of us.
Care and responsibility, remember? And a great dose of imagination. We need to visualize it before it can actually happen.
“Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating progress, giving birth to evolution.”
Overview and Examples
So, what are the regenerative practitioners doing concretely to make this world happen? Let me give you a quick overview of examples.
Governments such as Bhutan, New Zealand, and Amsterdam are making a dashboard on which more KPIs are managed than just money. They move away from Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as the only measurement for the success of a country.
They balance money-indicators with other Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) such as clean air, drinkable rivers, healthy people. They look at wellbeing for all.
Some businesses (and the group is growing fast) stop treating their customers and employees as homo economicus, a person just motivated by money. They start treating them like people of flesh and blood. They invent regenerative business models in which they create multiple values instead of just money.
They create new products with local, abundantly available materials, such as thistles, seaweed, industrial hemp, fungi, and bamboo. They use synergy (economies of scope) instead of scale to make the business models work for resilience in a changing world.
All these businesses have two things in common:
- They have a strong mission. They are solving an actual problem of basic human (or other species’) needs. Their business is driven by values and purpose
- They have a long term vision. And all of their short term actions will be related to it
Regenerative Food and Farming
In farming, the regenerative trend is really taking off. Food creation is the part where the link between human systems and natural systems is very tangible. Regenerative farmers are creating with nature. Instead of trying to control nature. Permaculture is a great example and food forestry.
Regenerative Health Practitioners
In health, the trend of regeneration is very visible as well. Regenerative health practitioners are holistic thinkers focussed on starting a path of healing instead of just providing short term pill-solutions.
They involve old wisdom as well as modern science. They do not shun the connection between alternative medicine (e.g. Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine) and regular western treatments such as surgery. They might use regular pills, but only as short-term and incidental catalysts.
They include the connection between body and mind in their treatments. They include healthy food, outdoor health, and lifestyle changes into their advice. They will leave the responsibility with the individual patient and act as a wise guardian.
Regenerative scientists realize that their specialist field will always be connected to other fields in the implementation. They break down the walls of their departments and collaborate with scientists from other fields. They start from the messy reality. Observe with all their senses and intuition. And use qualitative and quantitative research methods to prove their findings.
“I never came upon any of my discoveries through the process of rational thinking” — Albert Einstein
What is needed?
Get an idea of what we’re trying to do? Not left, nor right, but human? Here are some guidelines for new, human politics.
The journey towards the vision is a wave with many confusing vortexes. The road has spiky stones who hurt our feet. We need bravery and humility. Compassion and wisdom to get through, Me and my sister/fellow regenerative practitioners are already on our way.
I hope these tools and personal insights might help you garden with us.
- Zooming out, zooming in. We need to take time to reflect on the bigger picture once in a while. Then we need to land in our own limited perspective again and choose wisely in our daily lives
- Systemic thinking. Everything is connected. And we need to understand systemic thinking to change our sciences, our economies, and our societies.
- Upstream solutions. We will be wise salmons finding upstream solutions instead of downstream. Downstream, the damage is already done and we can only fix what is broken. Upstream we can redesign or even replace something with nothing. We value design solutions as much as technology. Design solutions are the ones that combine fields of action. They combine low-tech and high-tech depending on the local circumstances
- Creating instead of just consuming. Everybody is a creator. We are born that way. We all need to embrace a mindset change from scarcity to abundance. We collaborate fiercely. We embrace synergy. Inclusivity and diversity are key
- Embracing quality instead of quantity. Our economies cannot grow in a quantitative way forever. We need to embrace qualitative growth for our economies and our daily lives
- Experimenting. Doing is a great way of coming up with the answers. We have to change the rules of the game. And that means experimenting, failing, doing it better, and celebrating the journey as much as the milestones. We find our solutions in multi-stakeholder teams, consisting of businesses, governments, researchers, and the local community
- Local economies will provide physical products. Global economies will exist only with regard to services and (digital) connections. Tourists will be conscious travelers contributing to the place where they will be guests. All regions will focus on becoming self-sustaining in basic needs. We will restore our local ecosystems and learn how to live within planetary boundaries in our own unique cultural way
- Local communities will manage the commons. Together. Weighing all factors, cultural and natural. Ecocide is not allowed
- Embracing uncertainty and diversity. We listen to all people, have compassion for all personal perspectives. And we make wise decisions with one goal in mind. To live in line with the universal truth. Respect the natural laws of our planet and the inner wisdom of all humans
- Combining old wisdom with modern knowledge. There is a lot of old wisdom around. We find some of it in indigenous communities. We find it in the compassion of diverse spiritual practices. We will combine it with science and stop being scared of it. Stop calling it pseudoscience
- Dare to embrace intuition, spirituality, and wisdom. It’s time to realize that our western science is limited to the physical, mechanical, rational realm and that we can create a better world if we think with our hearts and dare to embrace intuition and spirituality in a wise way
- Promising scientific fields are epigenetics, built on the theory that genes will turn on and off based on interaction with the environment. Then there’s quantum physics and the observer effect. We see social sciences that do research on shame and belonging. And there’s agroecology, combining ecosystem restoration with food production and community creation
- Leadership. As regenerative practitioners, we are all leaders in our own small circles. Some leaders (politicians included) are part of somewhat wider circles than others. Regenerative leaders are firmly grounded in their connection to nature, to their inner wisdom, and to other people. We inspire instead of manipulating or forcing. We support other leaders if a certain person has more skills and wisdom to lead in certain circumstances. We are critical thinkers. We stand tall and speak out. And we have compassionate hearts.
It has become a longer story than I intended to write. But I am trying to give you as many aspects of the new, human politics as I can think of right now. Please add your personal wisdom in the comments. So the picture can become more and more complete. So we can all take out of it what we need for the great transition.
We are all leaders, if only of our own bodies and our own families. We can all create our own action plans depending on our own personal situation. And if you need help with that, please reach out.
As citizens, parents, teachers, scientists, entrepreneurs, we can embrace abundance and restore our broken natural and social systems. And then create new, compassionate systems for all humans and other species.
And our politicians? As soon as they see we are becoming one big wave of diverse, regenerative practices, they’ll join. In ten years from now, I really hope we will have a completely different world with different laws in which regenerative thinking is normal. But if we don’t show them the way, they’ll never become wise…
Happy creating! Happy connecting!
Let me tag a few people with whom I’m in contact or actively collaborating. They understand what I mean. They are on this regenerative road themselves. And they often lead me to broader and further…
Anna Ina Ayumi Christiana Daniel Christian jenny Jodie iCanay Amber Joy Julia Cigdem Rudy Ilaria Dr Mehmet Paul Joost Mark Alexander Navied Silvia Josine Zairah Kaia Yael Rebecca Adelia Trista Jenine Rebecca Adelia Michele Selma Maria CR Annelise Nicole Jonah Caroline Kees umair and many others.
Thank you all for bringing your wisdom. Time and time again. Let’s sharpen this common, regenerative worldview together. It’ll be our joint, wise compass…
Please reach out if you want to discuss whatever part of this vision. You can find me in our food forest, admiring the pollinating bees. Or via LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Patreon, and my website.
Thank you, Mike, for adding your wise energy to my words.
© Désirée Driesenaar