This week we commenced the Dare to Care Workshop. To dare to care more about the other, or a purpose, asks us to put aside our fears of rejection, being trolled, being wrong and making mistakes. It asks us to care enough to stand in the heat, to stand for something far greater than we are, including the majestic expression of a friend.
I have been contemplating how we humans need to confront the truth. A Dare to Care Workshop participant shared this quote with me today.
Not all things faced can be changed, but before anything can be changed, it must first be faced. James Baldwin
Humanity needs to confront many things. We need to face extremely uncomfortable truths.
As Jack Nicholson said in the movie, A Few Good Men, we can’t handle the truth.
Yet the truth will set us free; even though at first it will piss us off.
In this short article I raise some issues I believe we need to confront. To give context to the article, I was aware writing it that some of the points I make are incomplete. A whole book could be published on several of the issues I raise. My purpose is to prod some sacred cows to invite debate and a deeper inquiry. At the same time, we might remember the Principle of Precession – one of the Laws of Nature. To every action there is a reaction at 90 Degrees. Drop a stone into a pond and we get ripples at 90 degrees. The precessional effects can be experienced as negative or positive. Humans have enjoyed the benefits of technology used to do bad things to others, just as we have suffered as a result of the precession of our addiction to fossil fuels.
One of the truths we need to confront is the truth of Capitalism as the god of society.
We have attempted to re-costume Capitalism to pass the palate test.
Shall we Green Capitalism?
Or shall we Conscious Capitalism?
What about Regenerate Capitalism? Might that be better?
We revere companies that use the spin of Greening to gain status credits. At the same time, the model that keeps them going relies on increased sales, endless growth, and, if you are of sizeable dimension, the exploitation of the Global South – as the profits skyrocket and the CEO salaries grow exponentially.
Yet under the hood, the operating system is the same.
As Jason Hickel points out in all of his work including – including Less is More and a recent paper, Capitalism and Extreme Poverty – unless we consider the world as One Spaceship Earth, our home planet, then we can easily dance along the yellow brick road speaking about how Capitalism has allowed the life conditions of most to improve while ignoring the fact that this has happened at the cost of exploitation, extraction and continuing colonisation.
Capital exists to increase production regardless of human needs. The purpose is to increase profit and accumulation.
This is the truth we need to confront.
Because Capitalism, like it or not, requires a cheapening of inputs. Reduce the costs.
That would be input from you and me. That would be shipping labour to countries where the costs are lower and the labour laws agree to modern slavery. That would be raping and pillaging Earth as if she is a giant endless resource, with not a care in the world about the future costs – the externalities.
That would include enclosure and dispossession. Still occurring today.
That would include feeding our elders – trapped in homes for old people – with food most of us in the West would find a disgrace.
Currently, there is an energy war. Rich countries – most probably like the ones we – the majority of readers of Syntropic World – are privileged to live in – are buying up the gas and oil reserves due to one country’s autocrat wanting supremacy over another. We might breathe a sigh of relief that we will not freeze over winter.
We might also realise that this comfort comes at the cost of others. In truth we are exporting poverty as we have been doing for several hundred years.
Our ability to buy energy, and as a result, to push the prices up, means the Global South has to pay prices far above their ability to pay. The cascade of events from this pushes more and more people across the threshold of hunger as all prices go up.
Our new need for rare earth minerals to fuel the green transition comes at a cost – once again, most harshly paid in the Global South.
To think colonisation is over is to not confront the truth of Capitalism. It is living and breathing as I type. I am a beneficiary.
It is because I know this that I get up every day and return to the task of changing the very operating system of humanity.
As a white Australian living on a colonised land, this last week, I have watched as the British Commonwealth of Nations, of which Australia is a part, mourned the death of Queen Elizabeth. The media coverage was so wall-to-wall that it forced me to disengage, which is not bad. I have not engaged in big for-profit media companies for many years. But even our public broadcaster, The ABC, was intolerable to watch.
Observing in the news coverage the combination of sycophancy and derision for Elizabeth and the Monarchy, I was reminded to consider what my mentor, Buckminster Fuller, took as his stance:
Focus on changing the underpinning systems, the operating architecture that takes good people and turns them into profit-at-any-cost, accumulation-without- care tools, widgets, pawns or ‘robots’, while hollowing out others on the periphery, far enough removed from sight and mind to matter not.
Every CEO and shareholder of every publicly listed company is living some version of this. If we dig deep enough, we are all ‘profiting’ from the animation of this. At the same time, most of us have experienced some form of exploitation. We know this story in our bones.
The British Monarchy is a remnant of an age of exploitation and colonisation. It relies on costume, pomp and pageantry to keep the myth alive. Like all existing monarchies, it needs to be composted.
Yet to signal the Monarchy out as the pariah while we continue to worship at the alter of business-as-usual, while we pray for our retirement funds to go up without really knowing how they do go up, without demanding that the very model that is the generator function that keeps the engine moving, is for me another distraction from the task at hand. Simultaneously, it keeps us from observing that a new Monarchy has emerged. The Monarchy of the Billionaire CEO. This new Monarchy is very aware of its actions in the world.
We cannot criticise a company for Greenwashing unless we are willing to consider how we live our own version of Greenwashing daily.
This is a truly shitty task, by the way. It means we need to confront such hard truths as we continue to confront the truths of our lucky-by-birth-lottery privileged life. We might be wise to build in timeout for mental health recalibration.
While I am deeply grateful for Patagonia’s decision to gift profits to Earth, we cannot deny that those profits are made by selling more stuff. That is the business model. This is to confront the truth that makes us uncomfortable. We would rather not.
I am not asking for perfection. I am not asking for people to stop almost everything realising that almost everything we do – buying a phone, getting solar panels, purchasing an EV – comes at a price we still ignore.
As James Baldwin wrote, we must start with facing the truth.
This is the hardest step. Be that the truth of our own lives. The truth that we are eating too much of the wrong food, drinking too much, our partner is having an affair, or we are playing too small. Or the larger truth of the world, as I speak of here.
I believe you cannot do one without the other. As I mentioned in last week’s Sunday Syntropy, The Cosmology of a Syntropic World – we are fractals of the whole. If we cannot handle our own truths at home and in our interior, if we do not live the model as a fractal of what we want to see in the world out there, then we are hypocrites.
I am optimistic, by the way. Here is why.
I believe that the human mind working together synergistically is the greatest exponential technology we have.
Our task then is to design ecologies where synergy – where we are better together – is normal.
The synergistic Human mind can solve any problem we have.
If we do this, if we change the very design of the current operating system of humanity, and I do mean everything – our legal codes, how we measure and account for value, our monetary systems and currency – and ensure rights are always tethered to responsibilities, and all-in-accounting is the baseline. If we change these systems in our small enterprises, including our communities and families, we can demonstrate new models that make the existing obsolete.
How to do this?
Do not wait for permission. Do not wait for the government of the day. Know that the moment you say it cannot be done because the money is not there, you inhabit the very model you are hoping to change.
It starts with people confronting the truth, including the truth of their agency. Their ability to say NO. To stand up. To Dare to Care.
It is the entire work behind Syntropic World. We do not have all the answers. Indeed we have so few answers you might think we are naive.
I know that Nature’s Coordinate System – tried and tested over billions of years – has been offering humans as Nature the formula for thousands of years. Many civilisations honoured this.
But our Western colonising impulse chose to ride roughshod over thousands of years of wisdom in our haste to exert dominion, leaving a waste of genocide of lives and knowledge.
When we decide, as a community, to start, and then as Spaceship Earth, to put life, the wellbeing of all life, as central to every action, when we honour our Mother Earth as we would our own beloved Mother, when we restore our relationship as Nature to Earth and life, we will begin on the path of a more beautiful world.
I hope Elizabeth rests in peace. Like all of us, she was a flawed human. She was born to a story she did not ask for. Possibly even a story and system she did not know she inhabited. She was a figurehead representation of a system that still thrives well beyond her ability as Queen to change. We can malign the person or return to the path of making change happen to the very underpinnings of what keeps people like Elizabeth trapped, aware or not, in that story. All of us need to confront the truth of the past, of our privilege, of how we got here, and how we might move forward without ongoing exploitation and colonisation.
From a symbolic level, I hope her death creates the field for the rise of humanity that puts aside forever every form of colonisation and Capitalism, including the very ones that provide us with a comfortable home. Let us turn to face the opportunity to be part of the change our world needs.