by Hélène Montpetit
Are you familiar with the curse “May you live in interesting times?” It’s been on my mind lately as I wonder what, if anything, we are supposed to do about the economic hardships, armed conflicts, acts of terror, and all manner of other things competing to ensure historians will want to pore over and analyse the turn of the 21st century.
Since I do have–(as a Twitter friend recently put it)–a lovely glass-three-quarters-full worldview, I of course wonder whether blessings can’t be found under the curses of our very own interesting times.
In my part of the world, financial crimes, strategic warmongering, peak oil and climate change are treated as pure fiction, routinely providing plots for popular television series and blockbuster movies. Most of us do little about them. After all, Matt Damon is on the case, right?
Our busy lives also play a part in our somewhat nervous apathy. Securing our material well-being through regular channels requires us to be available 24/7, if not for work, then to add another degree to our resume, become adept at yet another new technology, climb Everest, row across the Atlantic or pursue some other such hobby calculated to impress. The job market is nothing if not competitive and CVs now extend to encompass pretty much all of life.
So, tar sands, iffy pipelines, dubious trade agreements, exporting jobs while importing everything from food to electronics, whatever allows us to persist in our unsustainable lifestyles is okay by us. We don’t have time to fight it and we don’t know how else to do things anyway.
One thing remains, though. Whether we choose to face them or not, these interesting times have already begun to temper humanity. A new reality is being forged and its foundations are being laid by ordinary people experimenting with new paradigms and, occasionally, restoring old ones.
Improving quality of life during interesting times is no small feat. It requires something I will call enlightened innocence: a blend of awareness, hope, creativity, practicality and determination.
Individually, as families, communities, nations and global citizens, people are already at work asking the important questions, positing answers and testing out solutions. Competitive power-over models are yielding to structures that reaffirm our need for conservation, connection and community. As Clarissa Pinkola Estes so aptly puts it, people are accumulating the acts that make a difference.
Real responses in the real world
Among those accumulating such acts and mending their communities are the people of the Transition Network.* Take a few minutes to read about what they are doing to help shape the next era. It is uplifting reading that might give you an inkling of how you can pitch in to create better outcomes for the future.
After all, don’t forget you too are both cursed with living in these interesting times and blessed with the opportunities they provide.
Thank you for reading. Please feel free to comment in the space below.