Monthly Archives: December 2015

Musings on change

by Aryne Sheppard

Our world is facing some big problems: growing economic insecurity and political polarization, social unrest and the rapid increase in mental health issues, paralyzing bureaucracy and corporate corruption, the looming threats of climate change and environmental degradation. Whether we are conscious of it or not, we all experience the impacts of these problems by virtue of being part of a shared social and planetary system.

We want to do the right thing. We want to be ‘good’ human beings. And yet, our response is often inaction. Despite the urgency of the issues we face, our denial has continued to grow along with our consumerism.

Like anyone grappling with issues of social change, I have struggled with this paradox for many years. Why don’t humans change? What information or insight are we missing? Many parallels can be drawn between our approach to self-change and our approach to social change. These similarities provide a critical perspective that has been missing.

So often in our lives, we set out to change something about our selves or our lives that we don’t like, only to fail…often repeatedly. We want to lead healthier lifestyles, create more fulfilling relationships, engage in more meaningful work. We want to be less stressed and feel more at peace.

But despite starting out on the road to change with energy and optimism, we watch our commitment and willpower wane over time, and find our selves back where we began. In my experience, this cycle easily leads to feelings of resignation, helplessness and a loss of faith in our abilities. So the question is, why don’t we follow through on our best intentions? Why can’t we be good?

I have an inkling that Jung was right when he said, “the salvation of the world consists in the salvation of the individual”. Deeper dynamics are at play and we are called to do more than tinker with the external circumstances of our lives and world. If we are brave enough to look inward – a uniquely human ability – the insights we can gain from our inability to change our selves will shed light on our failures to shift the big problems we face collectively.

Without realizing it, my teacher Viola Fodor helped me write this blog – her wisdom and guidance over the years have been invaluable and always infuse my work. However, as Thoreau reminds us, it is always the first person that is speaking, so any fumblings are my own.


Building resilience to the impacts of climate change

by Don Marshall

When I first became interested in Sustainability as an issue for the world, I was convinced that I and all the other interested “environmentalists” would, in time, be able to change the track of what was happening.  So I did everything I could to change systems, habits, and my personal perspective.  And I worked to help others see the need for the changes.  I think we made some difference.

But as we now know and are informed from various sources, the effort to preserve our environment is failing.  Our environment is rapidly deteriorating.  It is no longer an issue of mitigating the problems so that we can maintain “sustainability” in our world.  We now need to consider how we are going to adapt to the changes that are coming.

The committee within the Suzuki Elders that I have been working with (Education and Community Engagement Working Group) held two Salons earlier this year specifically looking at the role that emotions, in particular grief, had in our work as Elders.  These Salons generated a significant amount of interest leading to the formation of a sub –committee to investigate how we would proceed with educating ourselves further about this subject.

The sub-committee has arrived at an awareness that the subject is much broader than first imagined and we now have a vision of what the work forward should be:  Suzuki Elders aim to play an active role in building resilience to the psycho-social impacts of climate disruption among ourselves and our communities.  Inherent in being resilient is being adaptable, thinking ahead and working so that results will be preventative.  Many organizations are aware that the promotion of resilience is core to being able to take care of each other in our communities.  An excellent site that describes resilience can be found here.

Suzuki Elders have come together because we all want to do something to help the environment.  We are passionate about this in that many of us are grand-parents and have strong feelings of compassion for our children and their future.

Shortly, we will publish a paper that will include the goals we have set, objectives that will carry out some of the goals, and a library of articles and relevant web sites.  More workshops will undoubtedly be part of our work.

I would also refer you to a recent piece written by Dave Pollard who lives on Bowen Island.  It says it all for me.

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