What does it mean to be Wise?

It was some years ago when I realised I had reached the last few decades of my life.   I found myself thinking,  “Am I not supposed to be a wise woman by the time I get to this stage of my life?” This was followed by a certain degree of dissatisfaction, verging on despair. I was unable to perceive within my psyche any feelings which I assumed a wise woman should actually feel.   So my next thought was, “I had better involve myself in some serious activities to develop my aspirations towards understanding the qualities of this hypothetical ‘wise woman’.

Some Dictionary Quotes

The first place I went was to the Dictionary where I found some quotes:

  • Wisdom is a virtue that isn’t innate, but can only be acquired through experience.
  • Anyone who is interested in trying new things and reflecting on the process has the ability to gain wisdom.
  • By learning as much as you can, analyzing your experiences and putting your knowledge to the test, you can become a wiser person.
  • The Buddha says that real knowledge which is nothing but wisdom can be attained by knowing the impermanent nature of all objects we hanker after and annihilating cravings for them.
  • In the introduction to Age-ing and Sage-ing by Rabbi  Zalman Schachter-Shalomi we learn that the contemplative approach to aging is one in which we transcend doing in favour of being.   We learn to plumb our psyche for the spiritual gems of wisdom that come from mining our depths.
Are these definitions still relevant?

These definitions speak about the wisdom of emotionally and cognitively reprogramming our past experiences.   However, in view of our present existential crises relating to the Covid Pandemic, the inequality of the Caste structure and the dangers of Climate Disasters;  as well as the recent insurrection of the Washington Capitol by Trump supporters, the wise woman part of me is telling me to project my analysis into the future.

To support this approach here is a definition from The Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary.  It defines wisdom as “knowledge, and the capacity to make due use of it.”   It then continues, “One of the greatest pearls of spiritual wisdom that life can ever give you is that, for as long as you live, you will never have all of the wisdom you need. What you learned yesterday was enough for yesterday. Keep yourself aware that every minute you will be open to the new things that life wants to teach you about your environment, yourself and others. As you evolve, so do the messages that you must add to keep the spiritual evolution going.”

The Good Ancestor

And, then I discovered Roman Krznaric.  His TED Talk “How to be a Good Ancestor” and his book “The Good Ancestor” are replete with words which I consider to be wise.  Absorbing the thoughts and the philosophy of this wise middle aged man from Oxford University, is proving an exciting and affirming journey.   The case he makes for the present residents of this planet making themselves aware of how they are influencing the lives of their descendants, brings a whole new dimension to the work of becoming the hypothetical ‘wise woman’.

Do unto Future Generations as you would have Past Generations do unto you

Let us do a thought experiment.   How much do we appreciate our ancestors for the music, poetry and art which we are able to enjoy today?    And, how grateful are we for the comfortable and healthy lives we live because of the advances of science and medicine?

For what do you think future generations will thank us?   The sad reality is that our children and grandchildren are inheriting a planet which is in a much poorer state of health than the one into which we were born?

We have been warned since the 1970’s about the implication of Carbon Dioxide Emissions and the Warming Planet.    America which is the largest polluter in the world has for the past four years had a President who chooses to deny scientific evidence in favour of his short-term goals of stimulating the economy.

Learning to think Long-term in a Short-term World

Interestingly, it is in cultures which Western Society consider to be primitive that the long term habits of Ancestor Worship, as well as the concept or retaining the quality of our environment for the following seven successive generations, are practiced.   There is an urgent need for contemporary wisdom seekers to emulate these practices.

González Schuett suggests, “Maybe it’s for the environment, for the sustainability of future generations, for your personal finances, or for the sake of your peace of mind that you need to consider the implications of your habits of consumption for future generations.”

The Marshmallow Brain and the Acorn Brain

It is the Marshmallow Brain that makes us aware of our immediate emotional needs and the fulfillment of our most pressing desires.   However, it is the Acorn Brain which we associate with cognition that allow us to think long term.    Unfortunately the neoliberal philosophy which currently rules our politics and economics, allows the short term marshmallow brain to take priority over the long term acorn brain.

“Yet if we truly wish to become good ancestors, we need to expand our conception of legacy and think of it not just as a route to personal glory or as a bequest for our offspring, but as a practice of everyday life which benefits future people.   We can think of this as a transcendent ‘legacy mind-set’ where we aim to be remembered by the generations who we will never know, the universal strangers of the future,” says Roman Krznaric.

 

It is Sunday 8th November 2020. Joe Biden’s success in the American Election has been announced.   The writer’s paralysis I have experienced during the past few weeks is starting to heal.  Now, with some relief. I feel I can  share my thoughts and reflections of the past tense pre-election weeks.

Never before had I invested so much of my emotional energy in an election.   Whilst I look forward to the change with some cautious optimism, what a pity the present occupant of the White House has vowed that he is not going to leave without a challenge.   This position he has taken up despite the flimsiest of legal claims he can muster to justify retaining his present status.

Making Sense of Our Times

Going through my emails as a facilitator of TED Circles I have just come across this 8-minute video which I found inspiring, and I suggest you spend a little time watching it

Christiana Figueres is a Costa Rican diplomat who helped to promote the historic Paris Agreement of 2015. She eloquently describes the accelerating climate emergency. How this is the deciding decade to ensure that we do not condemn our children and their descendants to a world that is increasingly uninhabitable.

“We can, however,” she says, “cut our greenhouse gas emissions in half over the next 10 years ensuring our cities remain green, our supply of food remains stable and equitable living standards are generated throughout the world.”

“This ambition is daunting because we have procrastinated way too long. We now have one last chance to truly change course. It is the decisive decade in the history of humankind. That may sound like an exaggeration, but I am convinced of this truth.   If we continue on present path of carbon emissions, we condemn our children and their descendants to a planet unable to sustain their needs.    They will live in a world with exponentially growing levels of disease, famine, conflict, and irreversible ecosystem failures,” she continued

Fire Drill Fridays

Another woman with whom I can identify is Jane Fonda, who at the age of 82 has initiated Fire Drill Fridays.   Each week on Capitol Hill, Washington. Fonda demonstrates, together with a variety of activists, to pressurise the government to espouse legislation which will help to reduce carbon emissions.   “The climate crisis is not an isolated issue,” she says, “it involves every part of our economy and society.”

“Because of that, each weekly demonstration has a different focus. Scientists, movement leaders, experts, activists, Indigenous leaders, community members and youth come together to share their stories and demand that action be taken before it’s too late.”

Despite having been arrested for “crowding, obstructing or incommoding.” she has not curtailed her weekly demonstrations.

How happy I am that Joe Biden has confirmed that on the first day of his inauguration, he will bring America once more in compliance with the Paris Agreement.  (And, or course, that he is the president for All Americans.)

I do believe that  it is essential to limit carbon emissions right now.   Further delay will cause permanent damage to the earth’s atmosphere.   The use of oil, gas and coal for the production of power, needs to be rapidly replaced by solar and wind installations.

The Personal and the Political

I was personally challenged this week by a friend who had played a very positive role in my life last year. Whilst Johannes had during 2019 spoken out and supported me around some contentious personal issues, I had not been in touch with him this year since the outbreak of the pandemic. My espousal of the movement around climate change and its numerous manifestations was new to him.

Our conversation rapidly became confrontational, as he expressed his opinions around ‘climate denialism.’ I was prepared to drop the topic of conversation. I realised I was not going to influence a man with his views, who was additionally a Trump supporter. But then Johannes challenged me. “OK,” he said, you send me 6 references supporting the negative effects of the warming planet, and I will send you 12 references debunking them!”

Of course, I had to accept the challenge.  This is what I found. Googling “97% agreement of Climate Scientists” led me to this impressive link To clinch the deal, you might like to follow up with this list: A list of World Wide Scientific Organisations  It may be redundant to report that I have had no response since sharing this information with my challenger.

Would you like to volunteer?

I am feeling a strong need to make changes in my lifestyle to incorporate this new reality.  There is so much personal and public work which needs to be done.  Is there any one among the readers with similar urges to contribute to this important, immanent and challenging work?  You are welcome to contact me with their thoughts and ideas around a joint venture!   There is a form at the bottom of this page which allows you to communicate with me!

Summing up

I was born into the Second World War, a war which had a devastating effect on the world economy.   Some revolutionary post-war thinking initiated schemes like The Marshall Plan.   The success of this initiative resulted in the the two generations following this event, were able to enjoy a higher standard of living than their parents. This trend has subsequently diminished and my offspring will  probably need to be satisfied with fewer possessions, travel more sparingly, and develop a taste for locally produced rather than imported food.

We know that the way things have been done during the past seven decades will not be maintained in the 21st Century.   There will be more hurricanes, floods, droughts and rising seas if we continue this lifestyle which is dependent on massive emissions of carbon. We need to transition to living more modestly and more sustainably.   Recent climate events show that now is a time of an urgent transition.   These changes can now longer be postponed.   We are all needing to participate in the transformation.

We need to move into a pattern of living which is compatible with the natural reserves of our home planet.

 

 

I am not religious. Nor do I consider myself to be particularly spiritual. However, in January I found myself experiencing a profound premonition that this year the subject of Climate Change would be important in my life.

January 2020

In January 2020, there were vague rumblings about a virus in China. It was far away. Probably like MERS and SARS it was something that would affect countries in Asia, but there was no inking in my mind that this virus would initiate a pandemic declared by the World Health Organisation a few weeks later.

September 2020

Now in September, we have just memorialised the terrorism tragedy of 9/11 2001. Noted that it is 6 months since we went into stage 5 of a lockdown in South Africa. We are in a deep economic recession. An awareness of the malignancy of class and race has emerged as a prime consideration.

The World Economic Forum is telling us that capitalism, as it has been practised in the west since WW2, is unsustainable. And, there is a growing acceptance that Climate Emergency is the responsibility of each and every one of us.

Introduction to Climate Reality

My nine-day introduction to becoming an Ambassador with Climate Reality opened up a new vista to me.

This worldwide organisation, initiated by Al Gore a decade ago, has now trained thousands of people around the world with an understanding of the part each individual can play in reducing their consumption and encouraging their peer group to educate themselves on the dangers of unwise and excessive purchases.

I felt the Pressure

I felt somewhat overwhelmed two days ago when I received information that as a Climate Reality Ambassador I was expected to participate in 24 hours of activism on Sunday 11th October. I was feeling daunted by these instructions. I needed to prepare a one hour talk to be presented either face to face or online on October 11th.

It was hoped that 3000 presentations would be given on this day by ambassadors from all over the world. I needed to play my part. This was indeed pressure. Having participated in the free online course about one month ago, I was feeling more and more anxious that my journey to climate activism had not yet started in earnest.

Reaching Out

Now, I had this commitment. So I reached out.

When I had participated in the online course about two months ago, I was part of a cohort of representatives from Africa. We had a WhatsApp group to share the joint meetings, activities and interests of the participants. This means of communication had been vital during the training, but had become somewhat quiescent in the interim!

I put my pride in my pocket, and reached out to the group: “An appeal:Is there anyone (preferably in Cape Town) who would like to work with me to discuss how we are going to work towards our presentation in October. I would love to share my ideas and motivation with someone!”

Little did I know that within 15 minutes I would find two delightful, talented, knowledgeable young women from our group responding with their cellphone numbers and email addresses?

Welcome Farzana

Farzana Prior has written two books “The Blood Bath has Begun – are we too late to save Humanity?” and “Covid-19 – which is the worst pandemic?” During our Zoom calls, when we were on the course, I had been excited to learn about Farzana’s chutzpah. She is a regular participant on Twitter where she advises Cyril Rhamaposa on the way he needs to manage Eskom. She is outspoken, knowledgeable and experienced in the world of Climate Activism.

Now, she is encouraging me and tells me she is there to support me.

This was sufficient for me to make my commitment to 24 Hours of Activism, and here is the invitation to my presentation.

Welcome Jackie

I was equally excited that Jackie May reached out to me. I had wanted to chat with Jackie who is in the design industry and is actively promoting climate-friendly procedures within the world of fashion. She has masterminded a prize for the South African fashion manufacturers. Awards are offered for those businesses whose policies most profoundly demonstrate climate-friendly industrial procedures.

Visible Mending

Jackie and I got to talking about Visible Mending. For many years beading and patchwork have been two of my hobbies. When making my own clothes, or upgrading bought garments, I have been fond of adding my personal touch to these items. Adding beading, or embroidery, or tassels to my clothes has been a pastime for many years.

As Jackie and I discussed, invisible mending is out of date, it is now Visible Mending which demonstrates the wearer’s noble commitment to lowering their consumption of fabric. I was so excited when Jackie and I, discussed the possibilities to co-develop our ideas on enlarging this new creative pastime.

We would be able to creatively and constructively work on the art of extending the life of clothing.

Thanks, Jackie and Farzana – there is nothing to stop me now!

Read more about these endeavours on the Front Page of my blog!

 

 

 


“But this is a time to gather the facts, then get quiet and summon our deepest wisdom — and let that wisdom lead us. For we have difficult choices to make in the coming days,” says Valerie Kaur in her memoir entitled “From Revolutionary Love.”

It is now five months into the pandemic and I need to reflect on my thoughts and feelings regarding the impact of Covid-19 on humankind.

The Three Stages of Live

I have been a member of The University of the Third Age for the past 20 years.   Never before have I been so aware of the significance of ‘The Third Age.’    This senior group of people has retired.  Their concern is about their investments, rather than their capacity to earn.   By contrast, those in ‘The Second Age” are still needing to earn.   They are the most implicated in the slowdown of the economy and the insecurity of maintaining their lifestyle.   Those who are still in ‘The First Age’ are concerned about the disruption of their education because of the closing of schools and institutions of higher learning.

The Confluence of Three Crises

I am not alone in my conjectures regarding this pandemic having made me more critically aware of both the urgency of Climate Disruption and the injustice of Class and Caste all over the world.   In the USA many People of Colour have died at the hands of the police.   The way it happened to George Floyd a couple of months ago, the cruelty of this particular public act, and the fact that it was so widely reported on social media, has ensured a widespread awareness as well as the urgency of acting on this misappropriation of justice.

The awareness of the malevolence of the role of a carbon dense atmosphere has been intensified.  Pictures of cities in China which are usually bathed in smog are now photographed as being  exposed to the blue sky.    The birds are singing more loudly and wild animals are returning to their habitat.   There can be no place for the refutation of scientific evidence regarding the negative implications of carbon polluted air.   It has been reported that the reduction of emissions for 2020 are now in line with the recommendations of the Paris Convention.   Great news indeed.   It can be done.   Let us ensure regulations are promulgated to ensure the continued diminution of toxic waster products.

Interdependence

This is the first time in history that populations throughout the world are feeling the devastating effects, the gross implications of living in an interconnected world.   The virus knows no boundaries.   We are all in this together.   The only way in which we are going to save our planet from the gross injustices of the past is for people, of all nationalities, of all persuasions to work together.   Never before has the interdependence between humans, and animals and nature been so obvious.

Exciting News

The World Economic Forum is taking the lead.    This organisation led by George Schwab has been meeting fortnightly to brainstorm transformative ideas for a restart of the economy based on the needs of people across both the political and class spectrums, irrespective of prestige or belief.   In January 2021 the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting at Davos is going to have a new format.   Instead of inviting only successful business leaders, political heads of states and influential people, the decision has been made to have the voices of three generations present at Davos.  The concept of The Great Reset is truly inspiring

Reading of the plans of this illustrious body of thinkers, I detect a rejection of the neo-liberal model where gross economic growth is the most important criterion of success. The main objective of business.    There is an inkling of awareness that it is not only the shareholders that need to be rewarded with dividends.   All players in the organisation have needs that must be met, including those performing the most mundane jobs.    The selfish, short term motives of activities must be replaced by the long term goals to benefit all the players.  The benefit all needs to be incorporated into the business structure.   It is going to be today’s youth who come up with new ideas to manifest these progressive theoretical concepts.

The Biggest Learning of the Pandemic

The rules and regulations of the lockdown have transformed our lifestyle in the most dramatic manner.    This ability of the world’s population to regulate their day to day habits has been necessitated by the lethal capacity of a micro-organism.   It has been demonstrated that “Where there is a Will, there is a Way”    There must be a way towards a fairer and more equal society where the needs of all beings are treated with fairness and dignity.

In Conclusion
In Conclusion

“I can see how we could use this opportunity to design a better world,” says Sharan Burrow, General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), “but we need both national and multilateral institutions to make it work.

Solidarity and sharing and deciding on how you protect people – both within nations and globally – is absolutely critical at the moment.”

 

Premonition of January 2020

I have never considered myself to be a particularly intuitive person. I have the odd hunch, and I know that foresight does play a role in decision making. However, since January 2020, I have been grappling to come to terms with the idea that Climate Awareness was going to be my project for the year.

Having facilitated monthly groups for seniors in which we examine what it means to be a Conscious Elder, I announced at the first meeting of the year that we would be bringing the topic of climate change awareness into our discussions. To set the tone, I invited my grand-daughter Keren who has transformed herself from an artist to a business woman. In her new capacity, she is manufacturing bags which are environmentally friendly as they assist shoppers to cut down on their use of plastic.

It was in February this year, the world outside China, heard about Covid-19.   March 26th is the date of the initial Stage 5 Lockdown in South Africa. “But, what is the connection to Climate Disaster?” was constantly running through my mind. Comes August 7th, not only my eldest daughter’s 60th Birthday but news of The Great Reset. At last, someone was articulating the connections I had been feeling in my gut since the beginning of the year.

Covid-19: The Great Reset by Klaus Schwab and Thierry Mallert

By June 2020, Klaus Schwab the founder of The Economic Forum had started to articulate the long term significance of what a minute virus was doing for humanity. Before that date, I had felt embarrassed to even think that the world wide suffering of the past six months may have a silver lining.  I shared my ideas with but a few broad-minded acquaintances. I was cautious about suggesting that maybe this microscopic non-living matter was here to humble us. But yesterday (Friday, August 7th) I decided I can come out of the closet.   I received an email from The World Economic Forum which stated:

“There is an urgent need for global stakeholders to cooperate in simultaneously managing the direct consequences of the COVID-19 crisis. To improve the state of the world, the World Economic Forum is starting The Great Reset initiative.”

The process has been started. The World Economic Forum is leading The Great Reset by recommending that politicians, economists and sociologists as well as climate activists consider a radical transformation of both values and goals – a new world order and a major transformation of objectives is projected.  One important aim is to close the gap between those born with advantage and those who come into the world with multiple challenges. If you have any doubts about the advantages of being born both Male and White then read Rob Wijnberg, Editor of The Correspondent who wrote an article entitled, ‘What I learned about racism by talking to people who experience it.

When I heard about The Great Reset, I was really happy about the letter I wrote last week:

“Dear Jeanne

Covid-19 has brought some unsettling features into the life of people all around the world. It has affected my sense of security and my perspective.

When, earlier this year, I learned that you were offering the one-year training for Sage-ing Facilitators online, I was very excited. Whilst it was impractical for me to participate in this course if I needed to travel to the USA, doing it online seemed an entirely feasible project.

Hence my excitement when I learned from you I had been accepted on the course.

However, on reflection, and due to the circumstances, I feel that someone on your waiting list could make better use of the training than myself. This past week I participated in an international training run by Climate Reality. This opened up my awareness of the emergency of our situation on planet earth.

Despite scientific predictions over the past century that the warming of the planet would destroy life as it has been known, those in power have chosen to ignore many of the warning signs. Politicians in league with the oil and gas industry have allowed pollution, which has already caused massive climate disruption in the form of droughts and floods throughout the world, to reach a situation of irreparable damage to our ecology.

In addition, the untimely and brutal death of George Floyd has emphasised the discrepancy in economic status between the rich and the poor on this planet. The spread of Covid-19 has also effected the poor disproportionately.

The juxtaposition of Covic-19, the Climate Calamity, and Class clashes has made me feel that there is something more important for me to do than enhance my “Sage-ing Ability.”

I feel the urge to expend my limited energies and time left to me to try and do something in the form of Climate Activism. Helping to develop structures which may diminish the discrepancies of the opportunity between the rich and the poor.

So, it is with reluctance that I wish to withdraw my participation in the training offered by Sage-ing International. I appreciate the time and professional manner in which you have handled my application. I am indebted to you for treating my wish to undertake the training, with both compassion and professionalism. I am really sorry to have to announce my decision to withdraw from the program.

My best wishes to all the personnel at your organisation. I big thank you to you Jeanne for your kindness and hard work.

Best wishes

Grace”

Having been a facilitator of Conscious Ageing for the past decade with members of the University of the Third Age as my participants, I felt a strong urge at the beginning of 2020.   It was the need to refocus my work from emphasising the personal growth of the individual senior and awaken my cohort to the dangers of continued climate disruption.

First Meeting of the year

So it was at our first meeting which took place at the beginning of February that I tentatively suggested to those present the proposed shift of focus.   My motivation emerged from some unknown inner forces emanating from deep within my body.   I was not able to determine why I started to liken myself to Joan of Arc, of all people.   I just felt this need to share with my friends, family and associates this intuitive feeling that each and every one of us needed to do their very best to come to terms with the dangers on our doorstep.  Civilisation which had progressed for many millennia was going to regress, and in the worst case scenario humankind as we understand it was going to undergo a major disruption.

Covid-19 comes to South Africa

It was the following month of March that the knowledge emerged that the Covid-19 virus was going to be a threat to life here in South Africa, just like the rest of the world.   It was now on my doorstep.  Until this time, it was something that was happening in China, far away from us.  So, it was just those few weeks after I had publicly announced my realisation of the association between the Covid pandemic and climate change, that this juxtaposition started to appear in the public domain.

As I look back from the present moment in July, just four months after the lockdown was announced in South Africa, I realise how my early hunches are starting to penetrate the consciousness of all around me.   I still feel a little alarmist when suggesting to people they need to take up a vegetarian diet, or dedicate themselves to a less consumptive lifestyle, or suggesting they should regularly be showing their gratitude for being protected by their comparative financial security.

Becoming a Climate Ambassador

However, I am now just one week into my global training as an ambassador for Climate Reality.   I have been exposed to the thoughts, philosophies and activism or people throughout the world who have enriched my understanding of the urgency of motivating my contemporaries to play their part in the revolution in thought and values that need to take place.

Emerging from the Social Sciences

I have always been interested in the social sciences.   I studied psychology and social anthropology for my Bachelor of Arts and subsequently was involved in education from many different perspectives.  Now I realise how all the knowledge and skills around teaching and learning, I have developed during my lifetime need to be invested in helping this disturbing transformation in climatic conditions.

Confluence of Critical Challenges

The confluence of Covid 19 with the callous death of George Floyd at the knee of the police has raised public awareness of the structural inequalities in our society.  I am starting to visualise how climate change must be part of the solution.   We need to revolutionise the thinking around our present brand of capitalism, and the manner in which our limited democracies are working.

And, a Silver Lining

For me personally there has been a silver lining to all the restrictions to which I have been exposed.    My facilitations in Conscious Ageing have been moved into the zoom room.   I have all of a sudden developed an international audience.   I have participants from South Africa, Australia, England, Ireland and America for the fortnightly discussions on Zoom   So, what a wonderful way to start working on sharing my understanding of the inter-relationship between human inequality, major discrepancies between the rich and the poor, unequal access to health and education, and denial of opportunities to the present disadvantaged group.

Moving to a Sustainable Future

Let us look at all these factors.   Ideally, they all need to be evolved and transformed to create a sustainable lifestyle on this planet.   There are models that have been developed over the last decade to show that these changes are possible.   Let us work on it together to ensure that humanity not only thrives but becomes more fair and equal going forward.

South Africa has been in lockdown since 27th March 2020 – that amounts to 13 ½ weeks at the time of writing.    What have I learned about myself, society and the human condition during that time?  How am I making sense of all these constraints on my personal freedom?  How am I coping with the anxiety of an ever more threatening future?

Being Subjected to Outside Disciplinary Measures

I live in a village for Senior Residents.   I was told by the Village Manager yesterday that I was not allowed to visit my daughter who lives about 15K from my home and has just returned from hospital after a surgical procedure.   I was somewhat stunned to internalise this restriction on my liberty, but realised that a protest would evoke unpleasant repercussions from my community

So my plans were thwarted.   Despite spending yesterday morning making vegetable soup and kneidlach, spring rolls, and stewed apples;  topped by homemade rolls and a fresh carrot and cabbage salad, my aspirations were stymied.    My intention was to share these symbols of my love with my two daughters over a celebratory supper.

However, when my younger daughter arrived at the security station to fetch me and the fondly made repast, she was not allowed inside the Village grounds.   Not even to collect the food.   Furthermore, I was told by the village Manager that if I left the village to visit my recuperating offspring, I would not be allowed back into my home again!   And, I did not even protest!

School Goers also have Disciplinary Features in the Daily Routine

Our local scholars have just returned to school after three months of home learning.   They are not allowed to play in the grounds during the break, but must sit in their desks to eat their snacks.   Teachers are not able to walk between the children’s desks, let alone hug them or shake their hands.   Standing in line to have temperatures taken and hands sanitised is the opening ritual on arriving at school.   So, I am certainly not the only person in the world whose activities are being thwarted.

Some Sanity from a Wise Psychiatrist and Environmentalist

I had the privilege of listening to Ian McCullum putting into perspective the anxiety-provoking circumstances of our present lifestyle.   He drew my attention to some profound new understandings initiated by the confluence of the Covid pandemic, together with the virulent reaction to the death of George Floyd.   There have been many demonstrations over the years when police violence in America has been out of proportion, however this particular event was witnessed all over the world with the 8 minute 46 second video, circulated by a bystander.  The unexpected consequences have been monumental.

Our Defence Mechanisms

Dr McCullum offered some profound insight.   He described the response to the present unique circumstances in terms of four “viruses.”  More traditional psychological theory might have labelled the qualities ‘defence mechanisms.’

  • Ignorance is manifested by those who do not have the ability to recognise that all humans and animals are interconnected. Many do not have the curiosity to internalise this concept of inter-dependency.
  • Entitlement is a quality possessed by many people who are in denial of their privileges. The present challenges have demonstrated clearly that it is the poorer and less privileged who are the worst victims of this scourge.    It is not true to say, the virus does not discriminate.   Statistics show that a lower socioeconomic status puts the individual at greater risk.
  • Indifference is displayed by arrogant people who think it is their right to come first, and are incapable of internalizing the significance of their privileges.
  • Defeatism is used as a tool for those who declare it is too late to do anything about climate change. They declare that to be optimistic is to be foolhardy.   However, active hope is an essential tool for humankind if we are going to find a “new normal”
Covid-19, Racism and Climate Change.

The confluence of the challenges of Covid-19, Racism and Climate Change has brought to my attention the necessity for each and every one of us to examine their personal values and beliefs.  We have just undergone a massive worldwide change in our behaviour.   All over the globe citizens of many countries have had their freedom curtailed by government regulations.

The threat of the virus is immediate, whereas the threat from climate change is long term.   There is no immediate repercussion for the individual if he or she continues to use plastic indiscriminately.   Racism has existed all our lifetime and the destruction of the spirit of those with darker skin hues gets condoned because their hurt feelings are not visible.

We can change our behaviour, turn our lifestyle upside down virtually over-night when potential death is on our doorstep.   What an amazing demonstration of the fact, “Where there is a will, there is a way.”

My Hope

The unprecedented times through which we are passing allow us to slow down, feel our feelings, examine our thoughts, meditate on our actions and re-evaluate our belief systems.   My hope is that the wisdom bearers amongst us will be able to use the present circumstances to mobilise human resources to create a more fair and equitable world.   And, I predict that it will be the generation of my grandchildren who will come up with the necessary revolutionary perspectives and creative ideas to enable the transformation of human behaviour and its relationship to the environment.

 

“Your true purpose is found at the intersection of your greatest aliveness and the world’s critical needs.”  This statement was made by Frederick Buechner to define wisdom.

My Search for Wisdom

It was some years ago that I realised I had reached the stage of my life in which I was supposed to be wise.   However, I did not feel wise, so decided to make it my business to find out what this state of being was all about, and how I could acquire it.

I have always believed that it is easier to approach such a deep question in the company of others who have a similar mind-set.

Engaging with a group about Conscious Ageing

I approached our local University of the Third Age to let them know I wished to recruit members to explore both Wisdom and Conscious Ageing.    The group has been meeting now for the past decade, and has grown to incorporate new ideas as they become part of the present zeitgeist.

Wisely and Consciously Engaging with Today’s Existential Challenges

In the third decade of the 21st century, nothing is more important than coming to terms with the problems around climate change and carbon dioxide emissions.   Inspired by the clarion calls of Greta Thurber, Extinction Rebellion and other similar movements I have been researching what the present day elders are doing about these environmental threats.

The Role of the Unconscious in Understanding Climate Change Denialism

Jeffrey Kiehl worked for 30 years studying climate change.  He noticed that when he gave public lectures, his audience would become very uncomfortable when he offered them factual information about the dangers of the changing climate. His well researched scientific evidence made his audience uncomfortable, so they tended to reject the quoted statistics and factual information.   Kiehl decided this denialism must be related to unconscious feelings.  He was so keen to understand this rejectionist attitude that he changed career to study Jung’s Theory of the Unconscious. Today he is a respected Jungian Analyst.

How does the unconscious operate?

Studying Kiehl’s ideas has offered me a new understanding of why it is so difficult for many people, business leaders and politicians particularly, to accept the scientific data.   There is a human predisposition to reject information which makes us feel uncomfortable.    No one wants to change their lifestyle.   The public are frightened by the realisation they may have to consume less in the future in order to maintain a healthy environment.

Crises offer us an Opportunity for Change.

I am reminded of learning about Crises Intervention at the Child Guidance Clinic many years ago.   A good time to create changes in the attitude of emotionally disturbed children is when they are going through a personal crises.    Maybe the crises created by the present dangers of flood, famine and fire will help us to understand we all depend on each other to maintain conditions for sustainable life on this planet.  The Buddhists told us many years ago that all mankind was inter-related.   Ubuntu in Africa is based on this mutual interdependency.

In Conclusion

The Wise Elder needs to find avenues for co-operation with the younger members of the community to make progress in finding a way to work together to halt and reverse carbon dioxide emissions.

 

 

Man’s Footprint and its consequences

Do you believe there is a connection between the appearance of the virus that causes Covid-19 and the disturbance of the natural environment?  I posed this question recently in a meeting which had been transferred to an on-line app,  because of the current lockdown. The suggestions was met with silence other than the response of one participant who said, “Grace, do you believe there is an association?”    I could determine through the sound of his voice he was totally sceptical of my perspective.

“Yes,” I responded tentatively.   And then I found myself launching into my understanding of the present predicament. “I believe that because of our destruction of forests and savannahs, wild animals are venturing into populated areas, bringing us into the orbit of viruses which cause deadly diseases.”

Habit of Consumption

My comment was met with a deathly silence.   It is now one week later and I have been listening to some enlightening presentations in a range of on-line meetings.   Consistently I am hearing about the detrimental effects of the selfish habits of consumption perpetrated by the human species.  Whilst this tendency was recorded for the first time over a century ago, consumerism has seriously escalated during the past couple of decades, accelerating the deteriorating conditions of our environment.

Early Warnings of a Pandemic

Bill Gates in his TED talk of 2014 predicted this outbreak.   He lamented the fact that so much attention and money was being put towards the deterrence of a nuclear attack, but yet little was being done about the probability of a major attack by viruses in the near future.

Now, my concerns are around how we are going to live our lives when the period of quarantine is behind us and we find ourselves having to adapt to very different circumstances.    Those who are resilient and who welcome change will cope much better with the psychological and economic challenges of the immediate future.   We need to be prepared to have our value system challenged.  It will be a decade in which a major adaption of both life style and attitude will be demanded.

We will all Need to Change our Life Style and Values

I believe that the largest adjustments will need to be undertaken by those who are financially stable at this moment in time.   For some years I have been suggesting to my family and social circle that I believe that a key disconnect in our world is the acceleration of the size of the Gini Index.   That is the statistical measure of the distribution of wealth between the rich and the poor.    The larger the index, the greater the inequality.   I believe it is a crime that the 10 richest people in the world own the same amount of wealth as the poorest 50% of the world’s population.

I predict that the role of the professionals who deal with mental health problems will be very much in demand.   It is one thing to survive the present ordeal physically intact, but another to cope with the stresses of the situation and emerge without the effects of this traumatic experience embedded in our psyche.

Role of the Internet going Forward

There is no doubt that the role of the internet will be crucial in terms of future health and future business.   Being a boomer, and having learned the internet in my late 50’s, I am pleased that I did not grow up in an era that the internet formed a major part of my entertainment.

I have been using my computer for at least 6 hours a day for the past couple of weeks since I have not been allowed to leave my home except to shop, or to visit the doctor.   During that time I have not played one video game, nor have I visited my Facebook Website.   But I have discovered two outlets for my curiosity and my edification.    Chris Anderson or TED has been interviewing thought leaders on how best to navigate the present challenges of the lockdown.   And Elders for Climate Action have been running some beautiful seminars to help people to adapt to a life style which is more sustainable.

Yes, we are all going to need to adjust to a very new world.   We need to work on our resilience.   Maintain our physical health despite the confinement.   Ensure that our entertainment is directed toward finding healthy outlets rather than mindless pursuits.

Let us Hope a New and Better Era Emerges

We will come out of this with a greater understanding of the human condition.   Mankind has survived many challenges of the past.   After World War 2, new international organisations like the World Health Organisation were formed.   So, despite the hardship and the loss of life, let us be optimistic that mankind will find more sustainable ways to co-operate with each other and the planet on which we depend.

 

“Your true purpose is found at the intersection of your greatest aliveness and the world’s critical needs.”  This statement was made by Frederick Buechner to define wisdom.

My Search for Wisdom

It was some years ago that I realised I had reached the stage of my life in which I was supposed to be wise.   However, I did not feel wise, so decided to make it my business to find out what this state of being was all about, and how I could acquire it.

I have always believed that it is easier to approach such a deep question in the company of others who have a similar mind-set.

Engaging with a group about Conscious Ageing

I approached our local University of the Third Age to let them know I wished to recruit members to explore both Wisdom and Conscious Ageing.    The group has been meeting now for the past decade, and has grown to incorporate new ideas as they become part of the present zeitgeist.

Wisely and Consciously Engaging with Today’s Existential Challenges

In the third decade of the 21st century, nothing is more important than coming to terms with the problems around climate change and carbon dioxide emissions.   Inspired by the clarion calls of Greta Thurber, Extinction Rebellion and other similar movements I have been researching what the present day elders are doing about these environmental threats.

Forest Fires in South East Australia

At the time of writing, uncontrollable fires have been raging in South East Australia for the past six months.    This spontaneous combustion has been caused by both prolonged drought and the raising of the temperatures.   Millions of acres of forest have been destroyed, vast quantities of wild animals decimated, as well as the considerable loss of homes and lives reported.   Despite international co-operation, there is little hope of being able to control this destruction until the rainy season.   This is a wake-up call which must arouse the wider public’s awareness of the potential devastation instore for Mankind.    There is no time to waste.   We urgently need to change our destructive consumption of coal and gas.

The Role of the Unconscious in Understanding Climate Change Denialism

Jeffrey Kiehl worked for 30 years studying climate change.  He noticed that when he gave public lectures, his audience would become very uncomfortable when he offered them factual information about the dangers of the changing climate. His well researched scientific evidence made his audience uncomfortable, so they tended to reject the quoted statistics and factual information.   Kiehl decided this denialism must be related to unconscious feelings.  He was so keen to understand this rejectionist attitude that he changed career to study Jung’s Theory of the Unconscious. Today he is a respected Jungian Analyst.

How does the unconscious operate?

Studying Kiehl’s ideas has offered me a new understanding of why it is so difficult for many people, business leaders and politicians particularly, to accept the scientific data.   There is a human predisposition to reject information which makes us feel uncomfortable.    No one wants to change their lifestyle.   The public is frightened by the realisation they may have to consume less in the future in order to maintain a healthy environment.

Crises offer us an Opportunity for Change.

I am reminded of learning about Crises Intervention at the Child Guidance Clinic many years ago.   A good time to create changes in the attitude of emotionally disturbed children is when they are going through a personal crisis.    Maybe the crises created by the present dangers of flood, famine and fire will help us to understand we all depend on each other to maintain conditions for sustainable life on this planet.  The Buddhists told us many years ago that all mankind was inter-related.   Ubuntu in Africa is based on this mutual interdependency.

In Conclusion

The Wise Elder needs to find avenues for co-operation with the younger members of the community to make progress in finding a way to work together to halt and reverse carbon dioxide