“Once you have done your homework, you realize we need new politics. We need new economics… But that is not enough. We need a whole new way of thinking… We must stop competing with each other. We need to start cooperating and sharing the remaining resources of this planet in a fair way.”
Margaret Thatcher famously remarked:
“There is no such thing as society.”
The retrospectroscope is unforgiving, and from today’s vantage point Margaret Thatcher’s remark appears deeply deeply misguided.
Buddhists have known for thousands of years that there are no such things as separate, atomistic, individual selves, that in reality we all “inter-be” as interconnected cells in one mysterious, cosmic society. Modern science is catching up too, revealing just how communal life really is on planet earth, with a wonderfully vast community of fungi and trees the literal bedrock upon which we all depend.
During the Reagan and Thatcher years, driven on by her deeply misguided individualistic mindset, a brutal assault on communities and societies unfolded, an assault that continues to this day, fuelling the multiple systems failures that now characterise this time of the sixth mass extinction. This brutal assault in fact had roots that stretched back much further, all the way back to the collective traumas of the enclosures and the dissolution of the monasteries.
Ill fares the land!
As a result of this centuries long brutal assault on communities and societies, many of the systems we have taken for granted are now crumbling to ruins before our eyes. As these systems crumble, the absence of flourishing communities in our lives increasingly becomes a matter of life and death for us all.
We need to re-commit ourselves to the life-long struggle of cultivating flourishing communities, for we are going to need one another on the road ahead.
Starting on 1st September, I will be hosting a six-week online course with Kim Harrison, called ‘The Art of Commoning’. This course aims to be a contemplative, collaborative learning space, for exploring together what we must do if we are to cultivate vibrant, beautiful, creative communities.
There will be no “teachers” or “pupils”. We will all bring our own unique questions and experiences and give and receive together, and there will be lots of time and space for slowing down and reflecting deeply on the following six themes:
- Waking up to interconnection
- Taking care of one another
- Knowing and loving the land
- Cultivating healing cultures
- Collaborating, cooperating and co-creating
- Continuing the conversation
If you feel you could value from being part of such an experimental, brave and tender learning space, exploring what it might mean to become a commoner, it would be wonderful to have you walk this journey with us.
And at this challenging time for the Religious Society of Friends, as we find many of our institutions reaching the end of their life-journeys, this course will also provide space for us to reflect on the future of our “Religious Society” and to explore how “commoning” might provide a helpful lens through which to approach the present challenges and opportunities we face.