Wishing you a Happy Solstice and a Peaceful and Joyful New Year

by: EJ on 12/20/2011

New Society author Guy Dauncey posted this video on  twitter yesterday (@GuyDauncey) and I thought it was an appropriate year end message from New Society Publishers.

 

I have to say that I enjoy this version of Handel’s Messiah as much as anyone but this song, and a few things I have been reading lately, have me thinking: Is pointing the finger at corporations, in fun or otherwise, really helping us forge the kind of society we need to withstand our coming challenges?

 This fall, the #occupy movement inspired and motivated people around the globe.  The commitment to non-violent protest and focus on consensus-based democracy through general assembly is a model that will serve us well going forward.  The movement is about, in part, more and better jobs, more equal distribution of wealth, bank reform, and a reduction of corporate influence on politics.

 Recently, I read The Story of Mankind by Hendrick Willem Van Loon.  This book was first published in 1921 and in 1922 won the first Newbury Award for children’s literature.  The current edition, published in 2010 by SMK Books, has a caveat for parents on the title page, “This book is a product of its time and does not reflect the same values as it would if it were written today.”

 Here is what Van Loon had to say about the fall of Rome. 

 “But Rome, which was not built in a day, took a long time falling.  The process was so slow and gradual that most Romans did not realize how their old world was coming to an end.  They complained about the unrest of the times- they grumbled about the high price of food and about the low wages of the workmen – they cursed the profiteers who had a monopoly of the grain and the wool and the gold coin.  Occasionally they rebelled against an unusually rapacious governor.  But the majority of the people … ate and drank (whatever their purse allowed them to buy) and hated or loved (according to their nature) … or starved in the slums of big cities, utterly ignorant of the fact that their empire had outlived its usefulness and was doomed to perish.”

 As John Michael Greer explains so well in The Long Descent: A User's Guide to the End of the Industrial Age, “Plus ca change, plus c'est la même chose”—the more things change, the more they stay the same.

We are entering a time of transition in the twilight days of the fossil fuel era.  Protests against profiteers are needed, yes, but the real purpose of protests is to build community, to craft new ways to forge truly democratic structures,  to learn real skills from one another that will endure and to focus our energies on the way forward. 

 It is tempting to be waylaid, pointing fingers and laying blame.  Decrying the unfairness of what has transpired is satisfying.  The key point in the Hallelujah Corporations song is that the Supreme Court made the decision to call corporations people.  Corporations, in and of themselves, may or may not be greedy villains.   Bob Willard, author of The New Sustainability Advantage:Seven Business Case Benefits of a Triple Bottom Line - Tenth Anniversary Edition says, “The only human enterprises that are large and powerful enough to affect the paradigm shift are enlightened businesses.” 

 Whether you agree or disagree with Willard, the real work that lies before us is crafting new ways to interact; new ways to do business and new economic models that can operate outside the fossil fuel economy. 

As we pause at the turning point of the year, I wish for you prosperity in the truest sense – family, meaningful work, and a peaceful place to call home. And I challenge you to look beyond finger pointing and blaming - toward crafting your piece of the future, a future we all call home. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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