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The Box and the Crossroads

What kind of species we are, at the worst of times, even the blandest of times. So easily seduced by systems, and thus imprisoned by them – by conformity, by familiar pattern, by the tyranny of the profiteers and overlords – and by the approval and sanctimony of the utterly mediocre around us.

How prone we’ve found we are to willful disinformation, to tribal manipulation. To the sedative effects of security, predictability, and entitlement.


All these things bode ill for our future – which history should have shown us.


And yet are these not also dizzying, crazy, fearsome, heady times, with the crossroads of civilization upon us? Times when thousands, millions, of us see how all these boxes, these patterns, these systems, are breaking open? Unsettling, yes, but also exciting.


And it is these times, of course, which call so many to be the very much better humans we can be – to step up and imagine that wiser, smarter, kinder, more creative civilization. There is not much time left – almost none. But we are busy doing this. Imagining that wiser civilization where people and the planet matter. Where leadership is a matter of capability, service and vision – not corruption, self-interest and mean-spiritedness. Where our fellow earthlings have rights and value – independent of their utility to humans.


I dream of that soon-emerging civilization. It’s already upon us. A civilization where people work together in good faith, for meaning and common purpose, and not schemingly, on hostile takeovers. Where kids feel they have a future and are equipped to cope with the inevitable chaotic after-effects of the bacchanalian era of oil. Where they again know more species of wild nature – their uses, their personalities, their vulnerabilities and insights – than they know corporate logos. And one where species uniquely coevolved on this exquisite planet – from mist-breathing herds of elk to tropical orchids, desert cartwheeling spiders to lions and elephant matriarchs, whale sharks and albatrosses to Antarctic krill, and fiddlehead ferns to pungent mycelia, connecting trees in a vibrating internet of the forest – all have room and peace to thrive without fearsome destruction and profiteering by self-styled masters of the universe.


Where a non-dystopian world – even if not a rosy utopian world – seems both within reach, and a blessed relief from the obscenely unequal, stressed, broken hostage situation of the present.


In our overpopulated world, bursting at the seams, the cards are stacked against us. We need not only the power of strategy, and collective wisdom, but of playful imagination and determined, clear, coherent voices. Time is hard against us. We have a plan. We need those who are better equipped to lead to show what leadership is all about. What civilization should be all about. And what the future can be all about.


This article first appeared in IMAGINE Magazine at https://imaginezine.com/phoebe-barnard/


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