“Do Not Tell Me That It Can’t Be Done”

Gradual changes required.

Time to reverse course a bit?

In my last post (“1967“) I posited that humanity will need to make quite a few changes in the years ahead, and that we need to “…start letting go of the status quo.” I ruminated on that for a bit after I posted it, and decided that a caveat was in order. Namely, that these changes we need to make will be evolutionary, and not revolutionary. They will (and should) happen gradually, if all of this is going to work out. Though some would differ, we can’t have some ecological equivalent of the French Revolution, and throw out all of our cultural, economic, and political systems in exchange for some sustainable version we create out of whole cloth. And it’s not that the current systems don’t need changed, but rather because if we did throw them out we’d realize exactly what revolutionaries throughout the ages have realized—that it isn’t the overthrow that’s the difficult part, it’s making the new systems work, once you’ve thrown out the old ones.

So, for example, it’s all well and good to envision gift economies and “goddess circles” and great masses of people all growing food on self-sufficient permaculture wonderlands, but the reality is that it just isn’t going to work that way. It won’t do us any good to throw out the market economy, for example. Now, at this point it occurs to me that I’ve written about all of these things before, so I think I’m going to do something unusual, and illustrate my point by providing links to previous posts—

–How we need to keep the market system, and use demand to adjust economic outcomes– “The Lure of Alternative Economies“, Feb 2015, among quite a few others.

— On how the future of agriculture lies somewhere between mega-ag and small-scale farms– “A Middle Ground for Agriculture“, June 2013.

— Reducing the role of consumerism and advertising in our lives– “The Economic Taproot of Consumerism” July 2014, “A Little Hardship is a Good Thing” Nov 2014.

— Being wary of too-radical moves toward “spirituality” and Kum-ba-ya-ness (not sure that’s a word), “Crop Circles and Water Memory” Feb. 2014.

— How we can’t all become self-sufficient– “The Amish Question” May 2013, “The Role of Self-Sufficiency” Oct. 2013.

I could keep going, but I’ll stop there for now. I will say that over the years I have noticed a broad cohesiveness to the totality of my posts—I haven’t changed my mind about much. In fact—one more link here—I wrote about this very subject a while back, “Getting This Figured Out”. I’m confident in the direction we need to go, and become more confident all the time. And, I’m becoming more optimistic—we have the tools, we have the knowledge, and we just need to act.  Many, many are on this path, but we need many, many more to become involved. This is why I sometimes “boost” my facebook notifications of these posts; for a few dollars I can put them in front of thousands of people. And trust me, it’s not because I want to be well-known. Just the opposite; I’d like nothing better than to remain a nobody and live my solitary life here in beautiful rural Vermont. But I can’t do it. We live in a crux time; what we do in these next few decades is far, far more important than what people did a hundred years ago, or what they will do a hundred years hence. It is make-or-break time; I can see humanity taking steps to fix our problems, but I can also see humanity collapsing into ecological disaster. We’re at a crossroads. So I’ll buck my natural inclination to be somewhat reclusive, and I’ll do what I can to facilitate humanity’s change-over.

But back to my point— it will work better if the changes are evolutionary, and not revolutionary. We need to slowly but steadily change our economic systems, our political systems, and our social and cultural systems. The changes will be additive, and their sum total will grow every year, until we have remade the human presence on the planet, and abandoned our extractive ways, and learned to be agents of healing and restoration. We can do it, we have the tools, and we have the technology. The good news here? These evolutionary changes are things we all can do. They are small changes, small actions, single votes, by billions of people, writ large. In the words of FDR in the movie Pearl Harbor, “Do not tell me that it can’t be done!”. It must be done, and we all have a part to play. Little changes, billions of times over, and it will all start to shift.

Top image credit: Esther Dyson, “Evolution”, Flickr Creative Commons.

3 thoughts on ““Do Not Tell Me That It Can’t Be Done”

  1. Gary Smith

    Hi T.

    Wanted to share a bit more in response to your post. I’ve sensed for quite awhile (as you and many others have) that some sort of really big change is in the offing. I often apply words like paradigm shift, cultural composting, emergence but I suspect it is really more of a felt sense that something is going on and we need to find a way to proactively engage with it for our and the planet’s health.

    One of the hardest lessons in acting that I had to learn as that I cannot work for results! I can’t plan what the next moment should or will be. Rather to be an effective actor, one who actually touches the audience, I had to learn to be actually in the moment at hand and allow it to unfold and then continue to follow these unfolding moments until the scene has come fully into being. This is particularly true when working with a script! If I try to “play” to what I think the end of the play is I have not only limited the possible outcome to what I believe it to be, but I have also completely removed myself from the present moment in the scene from which all the subsequent moments that are yet to emerge and that will finally accumulate to the full play. I feel like that’s very useful for us at this time as a technological species. We need to develop skills that help us know the appropriate choice for this moment we’re in while being aware that there is a particular ending of this play of ours that we would like to happen.

    This is all very much related to Emergent Properties only that we are in the pre-emergent phase and so can’t really see the nature of the property since it has not yet emerged. So we need, as a species to learn to “ride” the unfolding in a way that propagates health.

    -Gary

  2. Taborri Post author

    Gary,
    A valid point in there, I think– we (I) need to be careful about being over-predictive. Or maybe “over-prescriptive” would be a better term. We don’t yet know how all of these things will unfold, or what the best systems will turn out to be, because they might not have been thought of yet. And, the same is true of technology. On the other hand, I think we need to be careful about being “too vague”. It’s all well and good to talk about “Emergence”, but what do people DO? I have the same thoughts about thinkers like Charles Eisenstein, he writes whole books full of non-specifics…

  3. Gary Smith

    Just as the acting/directing methodology I referenced (learned after theater in college and at least 16 teachers in NYC) changes the way one approaches acting (changing forever the qualitative experience for both actor and audience) but does not change event of acting itself … One is still onstage, sharing with an audience, living in a constructed reality … So too there are other approaches, other methodologies for doing … It is not the what but rather the how of doing. Like meditation it changes the relationship and intentions of what is being done. So the answer to the question of what one does … One does what one’s personal wisdom tells them to do but the how of the doing is changed. The values of the doing shifts to authentic life focused rather than familiar systemic results that we are so familiar with.

    It’s pretty hard to explain clearly because the methodology itself resides in the sub-cognitive realm. The cognitive reflection is applied in a review and evaluative function after the event of whatever action/interaction is engaged.

    It’s not really something that is understood or learned via reading/intellect but experientially … Like swimming or skiing you must be in the water or on the slope!

    -Gary

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