Chaotic times

Submitted by Paul Born on February 18, 2012 - 11:53am
Help me define what this means for community


I am finishing a book on finding connection in chaotic times. When you read the short write up below does it capture in short chaotic times. What would you add, how might you change it - even just a word or short phrase you might add would be vey helpful. Much joy and thanks.


Chaotic Times


We are living in chaotic times, and I believe that things are going to get worse. This comes from a guy whose wife introduces him as the eternal optimist, always seeing the cup overflowing (though she quickly adds this gets annoying some days).


So, why does this optimist have a growing sense that things are going to get a lot worse? The systems we have come to rely on are broken and no longer serve us well. The environment is a mess, the economy is unstable to the point of being wonky, and people are angry and scared. They’re rising up all over the place, both against injustice and in fearful reaction.

I used to think that these “troubles” have always been with us, and I was certain we would get through them. I still believe we will get through them, though I am convinced this is not trouble as usual. Things are going to get worse before they get better, and no amount of innovation or brilliance will save us from the pain that the getting worse is going to cause.

Some may consider this outlook unwarranted. We live in a time of rapid and massive change, fueled by the hope of technology. We forge ahead, boldly believing that an innovation is near and able to address any challenge we might face. New technologies have made it possible for us to live in mass cities efficiently and enabled us to produce food and supply water to sustain ourselves. We are able to monitor almost every aspect of our humanity from simple computers. In a matter of hours, we can visit each other anywhere on the globe.


Science, we are told, is en route to curing every major disease, solving every possible disaster. When this belief is challenged, the reply is confident: All we need is more time and more money and we can overcome this. We are asked to believe that we are a people of possibility without limits.


We are urbanizing at an unprecedented rate, living closer to each other than we ever have. But mass urbanization and massive population growth have made us more vulnerable, and many are no longer optimistic that these trends can continue. The very earth we have come to rely on is suffering and showing signs of inability to sustain this growth. 


We live in chaotic times, defined by disasters looming over us, such as global financial meltdown, massive environmental degradation, wars, revolution, terrorism, shortages of food and water – human and natural disasters all fueled by and fueling global climate change. We seem to jump from one crisis to the next. And the realization that unfettered growth and overpopulation are unsustainable causes us to question the optimism we feel in technology. The human ethos is increasingly becoming one of uncertainty and growing fear.


Community as experienced by generations before us has broken down. Years of embracing individualism and consumerism, and relying on government intervention to respond to unmet needs, have left us with few resources for building community. We live more densely than ever, but many of us do not know our neighbors, and most of our families are spread far and wide. Traditional observances and religious practice are on the decline. Television and other individual pursuits have stripped many of us of the skills to play together and share our stories. The busyness with which most of us fill our daily lives is so pervasive, it carries—no, hurls—us forward. 


Worse or harder?

Hi Paul,

I too have a feeling that things are going to get harder. I try to avoid the word worse because it gives me a negative filter for whatever happens. Things are so easy now (so convenient) that it just seems logical that it will get harder. Things are so easy now I don't even need my neighbours for anything practical. Used to be that neighbours were interdependent. I believe that we'll shift back to that interdependence when things get harder.

The Transition Town movement has done a lot of great thinking and positive visioning about the coming changes. I like their point that most of the things we could do to prepare ourselves for chaotic times (such as get to know neighbours, plant gardens, learn to make food from scratch, hone our conflict resolution skills, and brush up on our foraging skills) are things that will be fun and enrich our lives and the planet anyway so why not just go ahead and "prepare"?

Thanks for bringing up an important topic.


Chaotic times

Dear Paul

We now know (?!) that we are evolution becoming conscious of itself and as a result we understand how important the choices we make are not only to ourselves, but our communities, the earth and probably the Kosmos. As such, optimism -- which I know is alive and well in your bones -- has now become a moral imperative. Its not just that the Cassandra's are wrong, its that they are irresponsible because as co-creators of reality we have real choices.

From a perspective of being inside a woman's body, the process of birth looks like a death as all that is known and comforting suddenly breaksdown and life explodes out into some unknown place that cannot be known until we get there.

As long as we understand/believe that a central purpose of the universe itself is the manifestation of divine being into self-aware consciousness, we have no need to fear what is on the other end of the birthing process. Quite the contrary, we can sense the ecstatic sense of urgency to bring the process to its next stage. The sheer beauty of each new connection is inspiring and sends the mind reeling: is this what it will look like, or is it this, or that!! Will I still be around for the party? How do I choose how to make my contribution? Is it this way or that or is it both? 

Furthermore, we can also look back at the history of evolution and see how with each new emergent level of manifest being there has been simultaneously more creativity and more fragility and vulnerability. They always go together. In fact the ecstatic edge of creativity is a result of the vulnerability. if you don't feel vulnertable you are not paying attention!

Everyone is in the business of creating new forms of community including those busily destroying the old ones. In that sense, we are already all working together.