Discover more from Creative Destruction
A new, desirable story. Reconnecting and rediscovering our entanglement with nature. And a reconceptualization of what it means to be human.
As promised a few weeks ago, I recently went through all of my newsletter issues with the aim of uncovering the big throughlines, the key threads that connect different paths we’ve been exploring in this newsletter so far. Today, I want to share three of these threads with you.
As this newsletter’s core focus is all about exploring deep narratives, I believe that the following will give you a very thought-provoking, meta-level view of what’s happening in the world and – most importantly – some very interesting ideas on how we can build a better world. This last part is also something I wanna focus on more in future posts and projects.
But now let’s look at the three key throughlines emerging from 1,5 years of Creative Destruction:
✨ A New, Desirable Story
🌍 Reconnecting With Nature
For each of these, there is a ‘Further Readings’ section with links to the Rabbit Holes issues, deep dives, or directly to the source articles or books I have featured in my newsletter.
Let’s dive in:
✨ A New, Desirable Story
We are in a time of story breakdown. Stories that used to dominate our societies are unraveling, leading to high levels of uncertainty and complexity, anxiety about the future, and a desire to return to simpler, less complex times. There is a sense of lost meaning in a world that feels like it’s increasingly breaking down while a sort of future-phobia emerges. And even those things that would help us solve the big challenges at hand seem to include some sort of loss of comfort or enjoyment. Because there is no desirable new story, people hold on to the old stories, the old comfort they still have left.
This leads to the grand opportunity of our time: Creating a new, desirable story!
People are longing for a new North Star. An idea or vision of the future that is alluring. A new project that is meaningful and inspiring, thereby giving people new energy to look forward and act.
“Every year that we head closer to catastrophe [...] the old narrative loses its hold on the collective consciousness. Waves of young people are looking for a new worldview – one that makes sense of the current unraveling, one that offers them a future they can believe in.”
So, how can we come up with a new, desirable story? And by the way, this has to be a story for the masses, not the few. A desirable future for everyone. So how do we do that?
Instead of being occupied mostly (or only) with spotlighting the downsides and flaws of still popular, existing stories, we must focus more on popularizing a new, more enjoyable mode of living! More specifically, we need to come up with new, better definitions of the characteristics associated with prosperity or a utopian ideal, such as happiness, success, well-being, safety, wealth, love, health, freedom, harmony, abundance, etc.
"You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete."
The key thing to understand in the above quote is that it’s not only that the finished, new model – the result – needs to be novel and better than the old one, but that we also need to use new, post-conventional, and better “construction materials” and “design concepts” to build that new model, to begin with.
It’s important to realize that the old frameworks were constructed a long time ago by old cultures with old knowledge and old language. However, what we know has changed, and cultures have changed, so it is crucial that we use our new, more refined knowledge to create these new definitions and frameworks. But let’s not promote these new modes of living with rationality, meaning let’s not use the same lingua franca that the old frameworks employed (e.g. homo oeconomicus, individualism). Humans are emotional herd animals, so speaking to these emotions and the need for connection is important. In short: To popularize a new story, we must become great storytellers and great community builders.
So, for instance, how can new modes of living combat loneliness and alienation? How can they combat this increasing sense of meaninglessness, that sort of spiritual loss that many of us feel? And how can new modes of living take away this feeling of constant acceleration, of burnout, of anxiety?
“The exercise of imagination is dangerous to those who profit from the way things are because it has the power to show that the way things are is not permanent, not universal, not necessary.”
Ursula K. Le Guin
New Deep Narratives: we need new stories of what it means to be human
Peak Nostalgia: Why Gen Z Are Becoming Futurephobic
A Crumbling Old World
Reframing Climate Change As An Opportunity
Reconsidering the Good Life
The Age of Reorientation
We Know The Deadlines; Now It’s Time To Share The Lifelines As Well
We Suck at Promoting Climate Action, Here is How We Change That
Fewer Facts, More Friendships
Want to change the world? Start by changing your words
Sustainability vs. Nature-Love
Is Love Better Than Anger, For Social Change?
🌍 Reconnecting With Nature
Somehow, sometime in the history of humanity, humans have started to see themselves increasingly as a special, superior species, as one that is separate from nature and can thereby use, control and even master (or transcend) the environment. What is often referred to as dualism, separation, or the great divide has become humanity's dominant belief system or story, especially in the modern world.
This worldview is at the root of basically all bio-destructive systems and processes worldwide. It is so foundational to how the world works these days and how damaging so many systems are that it doesn’t even make sense to list all its consequences because it impacts everything! It’s at the root of the polycrisis, which is why it is soooo crucial that this worldview changes!
I mean, we humans are so egotistical that we even call today’s era the Anthropocene when it’s actually Earth that’s calling the shots.
However, climate breakdown and the biodiversity crisis are showing us, now more than ever, what our ancestors knew and what many indigenous communities still preach and practice today: That we are inextricably entangled with nature, that we are nature, and that nature is us. And even with new modern ways of knowing (i.e. science and technology), we are increasingly realizing this entanglement with and our dependence on other ecological systems.
So, how can we acknowledge this entanglement and adopt a more symbiotic relationship with nature? How can we reconnect with nature and other ecosystems? How can we build systems that assure guardianship of nature and provide bio-productive (instead of bio-destructive) benefits to other ecosystems? And how can we design systems that put ecology (instead of humans) at the center?
Ultimately, it’s all about reconnecting to the ancient (and ignored) wisdom of indigenous communities (and our ancestors). And, in line with the point made in the first section, this is also about speaking to the emotional and social desires of us humans. So, how can we embrace a kinship with nature (or other animals and plants) through storytelling, culture, and community? And how can that kinship be much more enjoyable than the disconnect and separation that we are reinforcing today?
Lastly, because we are nature, a reconceptualization of ourselves is an important part of making this worldview change a reality. Because what happens when humanity defines itself over centuries as separate from nature, is that humans also become increasingly separate from their own selves, their own nature. But as this is such an important factor, the next section is dedicated to this aspect.
“Wetiko is an Algonquin [indigenous people of Eastern Canada] word for a cannibalistic spirit that is driven by greed, excess and selfish consumption […]. Wetiko short-circuits the individual’s ability to see itself as an enmeshed and interdependent part of a balanced environment and raises the self-serving ego to supremacy. It is this false separation of self from nature that makes this cannibalism, rather than simple murder.”
Separation is the largest religion in the world
Restoring the Kinship Worldview
Why we're entering a new age of 'Ecocene politics'
What if Design isn’t for Humans?
Designing for Interdependence
Reconnecting With Nature Through Culture
One of the most crucial and dire consequences of the separation worldview described above is the disconnection from self. What do I mean by that? Well, the disconnect from the natural isn’t only happening between humans and nature but also within ourselves as we increasingly lose our humanness or our own “naturality”.
We forget what it means to be human. We forget who we are and what we want. We not only become alienated from nature and other beings but also from ourselves. We lose the connection to our inner self – ‘who am I, really?.’ And unnatural, un-human practices such as sitting, staring at blue screens, living in sync with artificial time, being alone, eating artificial food, cherishing artificial beauty, spending lots of time indoors, consuming instead of creating, etc. are becoming the norm. Ultimately, we become machine-like, and we lose our natural aliveness.
What’s more, we also lose our inner diversity, both in terms of actual inner biology – by increasingly relying on fewer food crops, depleted soils, and artificial additives and thereby losing our gut microbial diversity – and also in terms of “monocropping” our thoughts, perspectives, and knowledge – by relying more and more on personalized feeds and information bubbles.
I know this sounds…extreme…but deep down, it’s kind of what’s happening. So how do we find ourselves, our humanness again? How can we reconnect to our inner nature? How can we rewild ourselves, our thoughts, perspectives, social connections, and our inner biological ecosystems? How can we re-humanize and become alive again?
Ultimately, this is a task of reconceptualization of what it means to be human, aligned with what I described in the previous section. Namely, it’s about understanding ourselves as part of nature, as natural, as ecological. There is a need here to go from ego to eco, to decenter the egotistical self within us, and expand our sense of the ecological self and our relation and interdependence with other ecological systems.
“No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.”
Tapping into deep human feelings is essential here. Universal feelings like ‘awe’ which diffuses or transcends the self-image and helps us feel more connected. Or ‘resonance’, which is similar but perhaps more practical and emphasizes the aspect of relating. Or play and the practice of letting loose, just being totally intuitive and playful, open to serendipity. And lastly, also the feeling that comes with self-awareness or finding one’s purpose and meaning in life.
Moreover, systemic structures and processes that enable us to have these feelings and to embrace our inner self more are likewise super important. For example, certain structures that allow us to have more time to rest, to slow down, and just contemplate. But also proximity to and time spent in nature, as well as time that is more in sync with nature (more natural, circadian). And more opportunities for truly meaningful connections with other humans, the tools we use, and the things (yes, also the possessions) we value. And, of course, also rituals and spaces that allow us to challenge ourselves and thereby help us find ourselves and our place in life. Lastly, also places of rewilding, meaning places or systems that help us rewild our thoughts, our perspectives, our information intake, and also our inner biological diversity (i.e. food diversity).
Just imagine how amazing life could be if we were in true balance with our inner selves and other ecological systems.
“What if, in trying to heal ourselves, we also begin to heal the planet?
Because, in a wonderful turn of events, it would seem that what is good for us, is good for the planet too.”
Deep Ecology & Deep Self
The Play Deficit
The Cult of Convenience
Busy Being Busy
Tech doesn’t make our lives easier. It makes them faster
The Tyranny of Time
An Insane Society
External Trappings of Success
Pleasure Activism - Shifting from pain points to pleasure points
Why We Lost Our Groove & How To Get It Back
Lots of Thinking, Not Enough Contemplation
An Unoptimized Life
Healing Ourselves to Heal the Planet
Untethering our sense of self from work
Designed for Circadian Rhythm
The Benefits of Awe
Rewilding your Attention
Becoming a Person of Place
Being Dignified, As A Rule
That’s it for this week’s exploration into these three main throughlines from all these Rabbit Holes issues.
If you want to have access to my Miro board (see screenshot below) with further analysis of different topics we’ve explored in previous Rabbit Holes issues and their connection to the three main topics described above, please get in touch with me via mail.
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