Paganism, Permaculture & Poultrykeeping on a Welsh Hillside
Wednesday, 9 November 2011
The Changing Tide
At the beginning of 2011, I watched as the events of the Arab Spring unfolded with a sense of hope and excitement. Wonderful how people could come together in solidarity and support of each other, and with amazing courage and tenacity face down and finally overcome what had initially seemed invincibly oppressive regimes.
In early summer I heard news of plans to turn Starhawk's book 'The Fifth Sacred Thing' into a film. This is a book that dares to imagine a future where two different societies have evolved from pretty much where we are now. One is dystopian - repressive, authoritarian, militarized, a deeply unequal society. The other is utopian - a flourishing, diverse, peaceful, egalitarian society of abundance and tolerance for all. The book imagines what would happen should these two societies confront each other. I have always thought it would make a great movie and it is a great springboard for discussion on the direction we want our world to take.
And finally, I have been watching with hope, joy (and sometimes anxiety), the birth and development of the 'Occupy!' movement. Watching people come together in the belief that another, better world is possible; watching them behave so peacefully and self-responsibly in the face of sometimes terrible provocation by the authorities; seeing consensus and true democracy in action - well, it has made me feel truly hopeful again.
Something is afoot. Change is in the air. Yet the energy though strong and determined, is also mindful and considered. This is no flash in the pan, firey but ultimately directionless revolt. Despite the protests being criticised for articulating what they are against whilst having - as yet - few solutions, I believe this is actually a strength. Rather than rushing headlong into poorly thought out answers to the inequalities in our society, the protestors are taking time to debate, consider, and generally sift through many many diverse ideas and strategies. Rather than asking the authorities to make it all better, the protestors are acknowledging their own power-with. This is sensible. This is mature. This could lead to real, and lasting change for the better.
If nothing else the protestors are learning invaluable lessons about living together in community, organising, mutual support, working by consensus. And in the meantime the continuing occupations in New York, London and dozens of other places show that they are not going away, not going to just give up and accept the status quo. The Occupy! movement is people finally taking their own lives into their own hands and realising their collective power.
There are many other hopeful developments too. The increase in interest in permaculture, the Transition Towns movement, the move away from mass-produced tat to home-made with love, from fast food to slow...
I haven't been able to get down and Occupy myself (yet!), but inspired by the protestors I am making changes I have talked about for a long time but until now not implemented. I have changed from my old bank (Lloyds, heavily invested in arms companies and with grossly overpaid directors for example) to a more ethical bank (The Co-op). I have made myself, or sourced from other craftspeople almost all my Christmas presents this year, and asked my family to make or buy my presents similarly. I am signing up to an organic veg box scheme. And putting my money where my mouth is feels good!
The tide is changing. Where it will take us, I don't know. But I feel real hope that we are heading to a brighter future. Perhaps we have a real chance to develop into Starhawk's utopian society from The Fifth Sacred Thing. Or something like it. I for one, hope so.