We are living in morphing times

Posted on September 16, 2011


The news is bleak. Every week there is a ray of sunshine that breaks through only to be swamped again by rain-bearing clouds. Our collective capacity to imagine ourselves into our own futures is dismal, even when these visions reflect back into our own eyes.  This week the British Government announced plans for banking reform but was roundly criticised for not seeking tougher measures, or sooner.  It follows a week of fresh concern about possible Greek default on debt repayment, and the grand farce only weeks ago when the US debt ceiling crisis seemed unending: playing out partly over ideology and who should pay for US debt.

Whether the British government intends to rein in bankers now or in the never-never is neither here nor there when it comes to counting the cost of their actions.  No-one it seems, has a plan for tracing that money that has disappeared into the personal coffers of bankers and executives right the world around.  And as we all catch cold from those giant sneezes, we are watching a new possible future unfold: one where the very rich have elevated themselves onto unassailable plateau, high above the rest of us who are toiling in the mud and muck that’s been left behind.

But perhaps this is an obvious, yet not a likely future. One thing the global financial crisis and its sons and daughters has shown us is that capitalism is no perfect system.  In fact it seems pretty cannibalistic.  How we get ourselves out of this mess is the question and the answer perhaps isn’t what the bankers think it is and it isn’t what governments think it is.  It isn’t even what boardrooms think it is. For, this era of financial crises is like the acne that heralds puberty: a lot more is going on under the skin. Rising fuel and food prices, increasing desertification of our landmasses, acidification of soil and water, melting ice caps and the extensive impacts on flora and fauna mean that unconstrained growth is a quaint notion of the past.  Technology, isn’t going to save the super-rich from accelerated climate change either, and unless a new planet is magically colonised, that nasty little inter-dependence number that Earth plays time and time again is going to bring us all down into the mud with a resounding ‘plop’. Capitalist models of wealth creation are dead, folks.

Where to from here? Somewhere, in the depths of writhing in all that mud and muck, a new body is going to emerge.  A new morphology for our fragile world.  Not an angel or a devil, a man or a woman, but a polyglot, a push-me-pull-you, a glorious, organic, fleshy beast of creativity, multiplicity and empathic agency. People in all their complexity have so much more to offer than a race to the bottom for financial wealth.  And as the fabulous thinker and scientist Janine Benyus who has coined the term Biomimicry shows us, we have so much more to learn from other species and natural systems.  The future is a morphed one: not this, or that, but something new from this, that and the other. One that is capable of taking us all boldly forward.

Here’s to a surprising future: I’m up for the ride!