Behind extraordinary ideas, there are extraordinary people.
The journey back to belonging
It’s time for us to rediscover each other.
It’s time for us to rediscover each other.
“When asked if I am pessimistic or optimistic about the future, my answer is always the same: If you look at the science about what is happening on earth and aren’t pessimistic, you don’t understand data. But if you meet the people who are working to restore this earth and the lives of the poor, and you aren’t optimistic, you haven’t got the pulse.” Paul Hawken
At some point in our headlong rush towards ‘progress’, we cut ourselves off from the communal crucible of close human connection that nurtured our species for hundreds of thousands of years. Since we first settled into agricultural civilisation we’ve engineered a series of socio-economic systems that have incentivised us to consistently exploit one another and degrade our supporting ecosystems, right up until the point that they inevitably collapse. And now, as we continue to undermine the health of our forests, fisheries, aquifers, arable land and atmosphere, we edge ever closer to the biggest collapse of all, that of our 21st Century globalised economy. Caught in whirlwinds of consumption, we’ve unwittingly substituted the sacred for the profane, prioritised convenience over compassion and, in the process, begun to lose touch with our ability to live together as conscious, caring and cooperative creatures of community.
And yet despite the calamitous trajectory we find ourselves on, we remain a highly adaptable species that is capable of creating and sharing inspiring new narratives that can allow us to quickly pivot in whole new directions. But the stories we’ve been culturally indoctrinating ourselves with are in urgent need of upgrading. After decades of Neoliberalism we’ve seen a resurgence of Nationalist Populism, a narrative which appears woefully incapable of fostering the kind of global cooperation that is required to deal with the existential threats we now face. But the even deeper story we’ll have to identify and uproot is that of Hollow & Oppressive Economic Materialism, a belief system with a myopic focus on never ending growth that more often than not leaves us with an inner sense of numbness as it continuously compels us to scramble for ever more status and wealth.
The good news is that there are already many alternative and regenerative narratives ready for us to pick up and embrace. Each of these new societal stories imagines a time when we join together to recreate a more compassionate and peaceful world. They frame the looming catastrophes on our doorstep as a collective call to adventure, an invitation to rediscover one another and in the process cultivate whole new ways of being. A Collective Blooming is one such narrative, it’s an invitation to envision a planet wide network of peaceful, decentralised, ecologically sustainable and socially just communities. An invitation to start working towards the realisation of a Compassionate Global Village, where the health of all living beings inner worlds, relationships and communal bonds are placed at the centre of our political and economic agendas.
To realise such a world we’ll have to experiment with whole new ways of relating with each other and then leverage the resulting synergy towards creating a global movement of change. One of the natural places to start this journey is at the community level, where we have a direct opportunity to come together and begin prototyping more sustainable, compassionate and joyful ways of living together. Through prototyping new forms of mutual aid community such as the Conscious Change Collective, we’ll have the opportunity to foster our own thriving micro cultures of human interaction, and embed ourselves in the kind of reciprocal trust networks that can radically increase our ability to cope with any societal crises that may emerge. We’ll be invited to continually keep levelling up as individuals and be actively encouraged to use our skills and abilities to help bring about positive change in the world. We’ll be supported in shouldering the psychological burden of reshaping our societal structures as we collectively rediscover the inherent joy of becoming Community Creatures.
This journey back into a shared sense of communal belonging will likely prove challenging at times. We’ll have to risk exposing our tender hearts to those around us and may have to let go of many of our limiting beliefs and behaviours along the way. But as we careen towards ecological collapse, it seems we have little choice other than to come together and push for sweeping systemic change. And beyond the reward of securing the health of our biosphere for generations to come, we may just rediscover a kind of deep communal satisfaction that most of us in the modern world had forgotten was even possible. A felt sense of connection, belonging and togetherness that so invigorates the human condition that we’re left smiling at days end, eager for the challenges ahead and grateful for the system wide transformation they will bring. It’s time for us to rediscover each other, it’s time to Collectively Bloom.
This is an extract from Joe’s book, A Collective Blooming: The Rise Of The Mutual Aid Community, now available on Amazon (Ebook & Paperback), Apple Books (Ebook), Barnes & Noble (Ebook) and Kobo (Ebook).