Affect the narrative
The past decade seemed marked by discord and disfunction and, as we begin 2020, it can be tempting to look around us and see only a world of despair, polarised politics and brokenness. The world IS broken. Climate change; conflict; poverty that still permeates society in spite of our technological and medical advances; and poor mental health are all symptoms of this brokenness. Yet, we look at this world and we are left with two simple choices: to do something, or do to nothing. The global narrative has taken a dark turn but we all bear a responsibility in the writing of that story – our story.
Sat under a tree by the sea in Koh Chang, Thailand, many miles from home, I listen to the rich voice and even richer words of Nompumelelo Mungi Ngomane. In her book ‘Everyday Ubuntu’, my audiobook of choice for today, she speaks of the need unity. Not the kind of unity that is only found in response to shared threats or huge disasters, rather the kind of purposeful, daily unity found in relationship. In the last blog I wrote, a brief collection of thoughts on connectedness, I spoke of the power of finding connection in community. Ngomane goes beyond this, she speaks of every individual making the conscious decision to think outside of themselves first. I sit here, warm sun beating down on my face, and I wonder if I am doing enough to choose others first?
We are so small on our own. One of billions of humans, and humans are only part of the story. But as much as I look at the looming and overwhelming threats of climate change and conflict that dominate much of my working life, I do ponder the fact that collectively we created the mess so surely collectively we can unravel it. Hope has to exist in our capacity for change, for love, for solutions and for innovation.
So if the narrative of the past decade has been one of discord and destruction, can we not pick up our pens and quickly begin scribing a new narrative together for the decade to come? Our writing instruments will not carry ink. Rather, we need to dismantle whole systems together – systems that pollute and oppress others. We need to individually choose others before ourselves and we need to refuse to accept rhetoric of hatred and division.
In the words of Desmond Tutu:
“A person with ubuntu is open and available to others, affirming of others, does not feel threatened that others are able and good, for he or she has a proper self-assurance that comes from knowing that he or she belongs in a greater whole and is diminished when others are humiliated or diminished, when others are tortured or oppressed, or treated as if they were less than who they are.”