January 2022 - Year three of the disrupted decade
Can Less Actually Be More?
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I’m Grant Symons. I convene Transition Edge to help us understand how we can transition to a low carbon sustainable world using leading thinking and practices.
"Less is more"... sounds very Zen and minimalist doesn't it?
All you need is love... a tent to live in, or if you are lucky, a tiny house that is three quarters empty, some incense and a couple of meditation sessions a day. That bowl of rice and a handful of peanuts will keep you going for months as long as you have pure spring water collected and carried from a distance, in all of that spare time you have.
This might be the kind of image that comes to mind as the fightback against things like:
- high stress and depression;
- extreme wealth and inequality;
- producers and marketers enticing us to buy bigger and better more often; and
- a finance system predicated on squeezing out a return on investment, usually delivered through growth of something, while simultaneously destroying mother nature.
We all know that consumerism, industrialisation, over-population, pollution and debt, have been compounding for the past decades, and yet we don't seem to know how to down-scale our lives, expectations and impact on the planet.
Are we forever destined to overshoot the earths carrying capacity?
Perhaps we can begin to consider a world where bigger isn't better, faster isn't better, more power isn't better and growth-for-the-sake-of-it isn't better - perhaps just getting better...is better.
What do we mean by just getting better is being better?
Perhaps there is a state we can reach where we are aligning with the carrying capacity of earth, are restoring and regenerating ourselves and nature for future generations, are living more purposeful, enjoyable and healthy lives - without the excesses?
Here are some perspectives on what that could look like, there are of course many more to explore...but perhaps just a few would be enough to change the world?...
Less complexity, increasing simplicity
- In art and aesthetics there has always been a deep appreciation of simplicity in form and function, as these play out in beauty and elegance. Doesn't that sound appealing? While presently you may be constantly overwhelmed with expectations, tensions, complications and arrangements that are not working.
- Within ourselves - recall that feeling when you have reset a situation or expectation, got rid of old baggage, overly complex arrangements and burdensome belongings or artifacts. That moment when a tiresome negotiation, relationship or piece of work, flips into a different state? The 'aha' moment when things all simply fall into place.
- When everyday processes and arrangements are based on trust, fairness and natural cycles that we as friends, colleagues, family and community can see, feel and appreciate, life might be far more straightforward and appreciable. Established and emerging practices within Te ao Māori and the Regenerative movements, are gold.
Less ego, better space for others
- The majority of our prominent leaders have sociopathic tendencies, are driven by ego and the need for power and the limelight. Their need for the ideology in their mind's eye to play out as they desire, often darkens the world for those around them. What could be space for self expression, creativity, personal and collective development or transformation, is crowded out with demands, directives, schemes,
politics and agendas that obliterate that potential.
- The more space we create for real learning, (including falls and grazes) development and true transitions - the less false starts, misdirected efforts, pain, cost and general suffering we experience in the long run and the more genuine progress we can experience, even as 'baby steps' in the beginning.
- When there is safe and supportive space for diverse views and especially those of youth and emerging young adults, we have rich conditions for the learning, adaption and the resilience that is needed for the future to emerge and not be a repeat cycle of past ideology.
Less transaction, more relationship
- Modern society thrives on a vast system of industrial and technological specialisation. In our working lives most of us are cogs in some wheel. Whether it be fulfilling a part of a process in manufacturing, agriculture, banking, logistics, construction, or healthcare, the clock is set and our performance measured. We become a transaction, an abstraction - to be exploited or optimised.
- After WW2 the marketing sector convinced us to accept the mantle of consumer. The online world and automated services have taken us further from our true rights and responsibilities as 'citizens' towards our gradual and ongoing de-humanisation. We are now a market segment, a child in poverty, tax payer, rate payer, beneficiary, student, subscriber, interest group (the list goes on forever and this isn't the point). The point is, when we are
classified and automated, we can tend to loose our sense of responsibility and agency.
- Getting better is happening. Where citizens in a place get together and take the time to get to know each other and focus on what matters around them, things evolve. We cannot just drop our roles and commitments in the modern industrial society we have created, but we can surely have better relationships through which we can support, share, nurture the gradual transition to a low emissions and lower energy world.
Can you add to the list? (drop us a line and we will collect for a future article)
- Less stuff... greater?
- Less waste... more?
- Less pollution... better?
Instead of a quote this week we have two questions to test yourself as a citizen that cares for the future:
- What are we valuing when we need or want more?
- What would need to change for you to let go of a thing or position?
Please forward the Transition Edge to others today.
Grant Symons - The Transition Guy
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