A change of gear

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The question of whether we can bring about change is firmly answered. Not only that, it’s also moved on. Change is happening, things are shifting, and it’s up to us now to respond, to move into the spaces that are opening up and start building something new.

Having set out to explore how we can effect change, I began to look into what was happening in Greece and Spain, imagining that having experienced the end of the capitalism dream there would be things emerging that pointed to a different way.

Then I experienced the personal earthquake of losing Mark and for the past 20 months or so I’ve been weaving together my own story of loss, devastation and recovery with those of others, trying to make sense of survival, resilience and what it takes to rebuild in both my own life and a bigger context.

Recently though, I’ve sensed other shifts. One is in relation to what has been described as re-entry after grief. Since my visit to Athens in late May, the sense that I exist behind a sheet of glass, removed from others, has gone. I was attending three days of training on the Art of Participatory Leadership and the Greek crisis was very present. Since then I’ve felt as if I’ve landed back in the world, but the world’s not the same as it was before the bomb went off.

Since the vote to Leave Europe on 23 June, I’ve sensed further shifts. Reading an article titled Inspiration in dark times today, I squared up to them a bit more. In it, Paul Mason chooses Reason in Revolt by Fred Copeman as his book to help us through the crisis. The quotes below reinforced my belief that we are witnessing an ending…

Only one event in Britain’s economic history parallels Brexit, and that is the moment in September 1931 when Britain left the gold standard. The cause was austerity, and a government’s inability to make it stick. The effect was the breakup of the global order.

Through Copeman’s eyes we see what happens when history gets suddenly cranked up to full speed, plunging non-political people into decisive political events. Unfortunately, Brexit may be just one episode in a rerun of global chaos.

It is hard, watching Louisiana cops teargas black protesters, and Syrian refugees herded behind razor wire, to believe the current levels of disorder and brutality in the world will simply die back down to normality. More likely there will be cathartic events of the kind Copeman’s generation lived through.

Copeman’s generation didn’t ask for the job of restoring the global order and suppressing fascism, but they had to do it. All they had to draw on were the same basic principles of human decency that guide Copeman.

So, having experienced grief and loss personally, I now find myself reengaging with a world that doesn’t feel so unfamiliar, because things are coming to an end here too. Now seems a good time to gather together all the understanding I’ve gained since 2014 and see how it applies in this new landscape.

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