Friday, March 13, 2009

Optimism in the Great Disruption

"I feel strongly that optimism is among our greatest resources. We must certainly not turn away from reality but everything changes. Just look to nature. Nature teaches us ebb & flow, up and down. For me optimism is a key generative force that can must certainly fuel us to create a better, more sustainable future." - Embrace the Moon

This quote was a comment left on my recent post about the Silver Lining on the Dark Cloud of the Recession that I see.

It is exciting to see a lot of optimistic articles writing about the current recession as a possibility for reshaping our economy and world view into something stronger than it was before. It brings to mind the Nietzsche quotation, oft translated as: "That which does not kill us, only serves to make us stronger." Goodness, I know that the current downturn is devastating to many, and wish soulfully that I can do something about it. My approach is to continue spreading optimism and compassion as much as possible.

Yesterday, my friend Dean DeCrease shared a Thomas Friedman opinion piece entitled The Inflection is Near? In it, he shares:

“We are taking a system operating past its capacity and driving it faster and harder,” [Paul Gilding] wrote me. “No matter how wonderful the system is, the laws of physics and biology still apply.” We must have growth, but we must grow in a different way. For starters, economies need to transition to the concept of net-zero, whereby buildings, cars, factories and homes are designed not only to generate as much energy as they use but to be infinitely recyclable in as many parts as possible. Let’s grow by creating flows rather than plundering more stocks.

Gilding says he’s actually an optimist. So am I. People are already using this economic slowdown to retool and reorient economies. Germany, Britain, China and the U.S. have all used stimulus bills to make huge new investments in clean power. South Korea’s new national paradigm for development is called: “Low carbon, green growth.” Who knew? People are realizing we need more than incremental changes — and we’re seeing the first stirrings of growth in smarter, more efficient, more responsible ways.

And he also shared his own A Crisis is a Terrible Thing to Waste blog post:
We are now facing a future with sharply limited resources. Can we turn this situation into an advantage? Looking forward, I believe we can re-vision – and then re-shape – our world in two critical ways: by restoring our connection to each other and to nature.

In doing so, we can build stronger, healthier communities while reducing our footprint on nature. In this way, we can have a lifestyle that is both more frugal with our resources and more fulfilling for us.

The Conscious Choice article The Intention Economy takes a different angle on it, seeing this as a time to envision a whole new reality:
Opportunities such as this one don’t come along very often and should be seized once they appear. When the edifice of mainstream society suddenly collapses, as is happening now, it is a fantastic time for artists, visionaries, mad scientists and seers to step forward and present a well-defined alternative. What is required, in my opinion, is not some moderate proposal or incremental change, but a complete shift in values and goals, making a polar reversal of our society’s basic paradigm. If our consumer-based, materialism-driven model of society is dissolving, what can we offer in its place? Why not begin with the most elevated intentions? Why not offer the most imaginatively fabulous systemic redesign?
the breakdown of our financial system has not altered the amount of tangible resources available on our planet. Rather than trying to re-jigger an unjust debt-based system that artificially maintains inequity and scarcity, we could make a new start. We could develop a different intention for what we are supposed to be doing together on this swiftly tilting planet, and institute new social and economic infrastructure to support that intent.

I love how there are so many different ways to see this in a positive light. Please share others that you have have noticed.

This post is dedicated to Dean DeCrease for sharing his optimistic views and for putting so much good out into the world. I wish him the best of luck with his latest project, Re-Vision Labs.

Please send me comments on your optimism in these times and related articles.

1 comment:

  1. Amen! Granted, it's easier for the younger generations (and those that still have their jobs) to be optimistic, but I look at how we'll (hopefully) emerge. New and exciting businesses and business models, greater returns for those who invested during the recession, slightly more affordable housing, structural investments for current and future generations, etc.

    And of course, there doesn't need to be a recession to realize that optimism is powerful resource. If only more people defaulted to it.