A View From the Understory - October 2021

A View From the Understory - October 2021

Cause we are the champions of the world.

So here is the rub. The very way that we live has become the thing that threatens to destroy us. To understand and believe the science is to accept that over the last seventy years particularly we have lived well beyond our biological means and consequently our only support system is faltering.

Human centrality looms over this train wreck. We have promoted ourselves as being central to everything. We perceive that we are in control. We have a problem. Give us a crisis and we'll solve it. There is no problem that we cannot solve. It appears however that there are problems that we do not want to solve.

What if increased levels of carbon in the atmosphere was not the biggest problem. What if climate change is a way of pointing to the real problem. What if the real challenge for human beings to understand through this crisis is that we are not central to this ever expansive world and universe. What if the thing we need to learn is to truly understand how to love the earth and each other. Our control paradigm is such that it won’t allow us to take our hands away from the wheel and give control back to where it belongs.

But in the meantime if we collectively choose that we want to make our grandchildren's existence bearable, then change will be required. What has Covid taught us about change. Initially during the early lock-downs many people welcomed the slowing down of big industrial life . Working from home with less commuting. Less hectic lives, time to reconnect with nature and kids. Many spoke about the big slow-down as being an opportunity to re-calibrate, to re-discover a more human scale of living. Others however demanded that measures be taken immediately to get things back to normal. Back to how things were.

Is this because change is somehow always viewed as a loss. Losing what was. Losing the things we had. It is interesting to consider that material life has changed dramatically since the Second World War . Apart from a mildly recurring nostalgia for the music, films, movies and fashions of the past, people have mostly accepted this change. We have been nudged from simplicity, connectivity, collaboration, frugality, low-cost making-do to complexity, individuality, competitive, over-consumption, expensive, must have the lot. Change was presented as sexy, progressive, fun and essential. This type of change was made palatable by the trade-ups; security, personal freedom, increasing wealth and access to shiny things beyond our wildest dreams. Unfortunately we also traded away most of the things that made life human scaled.

So where can I look to find the encouragement and leadership that i need to help me adapt to profound change? My first lesson is about obligation.

First Nations people see their relationship with each other and with the earth, “Country” as being central to their existence. They do not see themselves as dominant to the earth or to other species but as living in a relational way. Being relational means living in relation to other people, species and the earth in recognition of an interconnectedness with all. It means, in interactions, being engaged, centered, grounded, clear, generous, humble and kind. One important way that these relationships are honoured is through a sense of obligation to perform duties.

Opportunity and flexibility are the next lessons on my personal journey to change and they come from refugees. The UNHCR calculates that 82 million people are presently displaced. As climate change impacts this number will increase many fold. In the face of dramatic change their life is reduced to the raw, immediate present moment. In the absence of stability, flexibility is the key in finding opportunity in whatever guise it presents.

So what would I like to see change by 2060 as Kuranda celebrates the 80th Anniversary of the Amphitheatre. My idea for change gleaned from the richness of the Djabugay people and the diversity bought by the waves of refugees who have come to our land would see a Kuranda that truly honoured it’s locality.

Locals who continued to honour the wonderful biodiversity in which they live and who practice earth centred governance and promote a rich thriving local circular economy. They respect the elders and welcome newcomers with a positive forthrightness that inspires them to collaborate in this new and transformative experience. More about “local” next time.

“Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.” ― Rumi

This article was first published in The Kuranda Paper.