Connecting local responses around the world
At the end of a year marked by calls for action on the climate emergency, I am sending you this note on the meaning of Now, written with Isabelle Giraldo of Emergences.
Happy New Year 2020
"Act Now! The end of the world is nearby! Collapse is already upon us, and with it its train of disaster!" Doesn't this message bear a striking resemblance to the message about AIDS that was repeated over and over again 25-30 years ago? "Be good, people. Abstain, be faithful, use a condom!" The experts went as far as the United Nations Security Council to warn the world of the risks of inaction in the face of the AIDS pandemic: decimated populations, destabilization of entire regions, migration....
Yesterday as today the experts rely on computer models to announce disaster. An anecdote by way of illustration? It happened in 1994 in Phayao, Thailand, the province most affected by HIV in Asia. In June 1992, 20% of the military conscripts from there were carrying the virus. But since then, the epidemic had been regressing, and Khun Suwat Lertcharantee, in charge of epidemiological surveillance, wanted to predict when the provincial hospital would be able to close the AIDS ward. However, the model provided by WHO to the health authorities to predict the course of the epidemic was not working in Phayao: it did not accept the province's declining HIV prevalence data. Why not? WHO in Geneva, when consulted, replied that the model was designed to "raise awareness" of the catastrophic impact of the epidemic....
Would the situation be different today? Do current models take into account the possible shift of entire populations away from the pursuit of money and power towards ways of living in harmony with oneself, with others and with nature? What variables do the models use to capture the butterfly effect, well known to sociologists? Isn’t it known that in a given population, it is "enough" for 10 to 20% of the population to change their behavioural norms in order for the culture of that population to shift towards these new norms?
Fear of the apocalypse inevitably leads to anger, discrimination and exclusion. Yesterdaypeople with HIV, LGBT people were discriminated against and they are still in many ways.
Today, fear and its corollary denial of climate change, fuels anger towards categories of
people, such as young activists concerned about their future, the rich and politicians, or
towards behaviour considered unacceptable such as flying, eating steak, throwing a
cigarette on the pavement... All these ostracisms contribute to the fragmentation of society at the very time when it should be uniting to face the threat. What actions lead to this separation, guilt, anger or shame? After decades of campaigning "against" with very few results, isn't it time to campaign "for" and "with"? What can we do to transform this anger into positive energy to work together for a harmonious society?
First of all, situate "Now" in the moment, where neither time nor judgment has a hold. By freeing ourselves from time and judgment, deep connections between beings become
possible. From these connections, a new vision of the world emerges ...Freed from our
preconceptions, connected among humans, we can put our energies at the service of our
deepest aspirations. By formulating our common dream, we realize how much our
aspirations are common and we overcome our differences. Each one of us can then,
according to his or her role in the community and in society, act to progress in the realization of this common dream.
As Bayo Akomolafe tells us, "There is an urgency, let's slow down". Let's take the time to
have the necessary and right conversations. What the Earth needs most "now" is deep
listening. Let us take the time to listen to ourselves, to others and to nature.
Collapse or renewal, no one knows what will happen. But at least no matter what happens
we will be able to say "We tried TOGETHER.
Jean-Louis Lamboray and Isabelle Giraldo
Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)