This is Paul Born's response to What are you skating towards in 2012?
When the ice is good it is easier to skate than to walk. Similarly when relationships are positive it is always better to walk with others. I have this growing sense that things are going to gets a lot 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 think things are going to get a lot worse? The systems we have come to rely on no longer serve us well, they are broken. The environment is a mess, the economy is unstable to the point of being wonky, and people are angry and scared all over the place and rising up against both justice (conservative and fundamentalist movements) and injustice.
I used to think “these troubles” have always been with us and for sure we will get through them. I still believe we will get through them though I am convinced this is not trouble as normal. Things are going to get worse before they get better and no amount of innovation or brilliance will save us from the pain worse is going to cause.
So what are the things this optimist feeling pessimistic is going to skate toward in the next year to get ready to absorb the pain?
One: I am going to look for a neighborhood where people know each other and are doing things together and that engage in acts of caring and co reliance. I am going to help this neighborhood be more than they already are by inspiring a project they can work on together that will help someone other than themselves. I want to experience collective altruism with them. I may even move there.
Two: I am going to help cities realize that by ending poverty they are promoting security. Less poverty means less reason for jails and hospitals.
Three: I am going to walk with those who desire new forms of leadership. I want to visit places that embrace leaderfulness. Places where lots of leadership can co exist and where people are learning to walk together and pull in the same direction.
Four: I am going to party more, laugh harder, reach out to those who are lonely and embrace (hug) the goodness all around me because I believe that when times get bad you practice the good stuff a lot, with gusto.
and… I am going to slow down so I can see the good ice and then I am going skate there often. I am going to slow down so I can meet good people, build relationships and walk and listen and talk.
Paul Born is deeply curious about and engaged in ideas where people work together for the common good, work that he describes as collective altruism. Paul is the President and co founder of the charity The Tamarack Institute, which since 2001 has provided leadership in Canada on issues of citizen engagement, collaborative leadership and community innovation. More than 12,000 subscribers engage in Tamarack’s learning communities. Tamarack also sponsors Vibrant Communities Canada, active in cities across the country, that has so far reduced the impact of poverty for more than 202,000 people. An Author of three books, Paul is a motivational speaker who loves the power of stories. www.seekingcommunity.ca Twitter – @pborn
Note: I am releasing individual essays from the collection, What are you skating towards in 2012? on a regular basis. Upcoming contributions are by Kathy Bromley, Adam Kahane, Jacques Dufresne, John Stapleton, Cheryl Rose and Peter Deitz . You can access the accumulated essays here.