Saturday 11 February 2012

Seeing Things Differently #1

The #1 in the title of this post is there because being in Transition has made me see differently in so many ways. This post is about one of them.

I could tell you transition has made me more tolerant and that would be true. But it wouldn't convey the sense of what this actually means. Just being tolerant is okay, probably better than being intolerant in general, but it's a bit passive. "I accept people for who they are" seems like a nice-person type of thing to say, but the world is full of nice-person-type cliches. Cliches don't change the world.

There may be a better word than tolerance for what I'm about to describe, but it'll do for now.

If you look straight-on at what Transition is responding to as movement, it's nothing less than the collapse of our present industrial civilisation, built on peaking oil and other finite and diminishing fossil fuels, coupled with increasing climate insecurity, severely strained planetary life systems, and economic and social chaos.

In short, the collapse of the world as we've known it.

Building community resilience requires us to take the reality of these events seriously. This is more likely after an end-of-suburbia-moment when you've seen the 'terror of the situation'. The split-second when you realise you're living in life at the end of empire and that the world is not what your parents, friends, teachers, business-as-usual governments, global corporations or the BBC are saying it is - nor what you have been agreeing it is:
A civilisation relies upon a set of unconscious agreements as to what constitutes meaning and can be allowed into discourse. When faced with information that falls outside these parameters, cultures and individuals alike forget or neglect, or actively suppress, the ill-fitting data. Yet the repressed elements return to haunt us eventually...*
Maybe instead of tolerance, I really mean patience, or allowing enough time and space to see myself and others in a different light. So we can come to different agreements together, as valuable co-participants in life with work to get on with at a critical time.

We can't do this if we're going around seeing each other just as same old, same old nice person/nasty person, winners/losers who happen to agree or disagree with ME or be an ally or enemy to MY particular worldview or lifestyle. Particularly when that lifestyle has reached its best-before date.

Seeing ourselves and others differently is a task that takes persistent effort. All of us have been raised in and conditioned by the same system with its competitiveness, jealous rivalries and power struggles in a culture that says some people are better than others because of class, looks, education or financial status.

That's why tolerance or patience, or allowing time and space so the more co-operative aspects of ourselves and each other can emerge and our skills be recognised and valued is a practice really, an active rather than a passive thing.

And where better to practice it than with those fellows in transition who already acknowledge the situation?

Then we can really be the change we wish to see in the world.

For it is important that awake people be awake...
the darkness around us is deep.**

Later: As synchronicity would have it, the themes here find echoes in a great piece about Occupy Norwich on the One World Column today by Vanessa Buth.

* from 2012 by Daniel Pinchbeck, p.41 (2007, Piatkus Books)
** from A Ritual to Read to Each Other in Stories That Could Be True: New and Collected Poems by William Stafford,
p.52 (1977, New York: Harper and Row)

Pics: Woodbridge station arches looking through the window; Honesty, Darkness and Sunlight (both MW, January 2012)

No comments:

Post a Comment