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Turning Point: Resilience In A Time Of Extremes

By Gregg Braden

We’re living the emergence of a new “normal,” and the success of our transition hinges upon: (1) our willingness to acknowledge the shift, and (2) how we learn to adapt to it. Our globalized culture of jobs, money, markets and resources means that it’s now impossible to separate the extremes in the world from what they mean in our everyday lives.

The crisis of climate change is a perfect example of this connection the record-setting droughts caused by shifts in global weather patterns translate directly into the higher prices we pay for food at our local markets. The extreme debt and failing economies on the other side of the planet translate directly into higher costs at the gas pump and higher ticket prices for the buses, trains and taxis that take us to work each day. Because of these and other extremes, business loans have become scarce, and the interest we’re being paid on our savings and retirement accounts is at a record low. The global slowdown of industry translates directly into the loss of jobs and benefits in our local communities.

These are the kinds of extremes in the world that are creating big changes in our lives. Among the many uncertainties they bring, though, there’s one thing that we can know with absolute certainty: Our lives are changing in ways that we’re not prepared for, at a speed that we’ve never known.

The Key

I’m an optimist by nature. I see real reasons for optimism in our lives. At the same time I’m also a realist. I am under no illusions when it comes to the huge amount of work that it’s taking to give birth to the new world that lies before us. Our ability to successfully meet the challenges that are converging in our lives begins by our acknowledging what may be the most obvious yet difficult question we could ask ourselves: How can we deal with the issues if we’re not honest about the issues?

Our willingness to acknowledge the magnitude of this simple question is the key to developing more resilience in our time of extremes.

A Crisis in Thinking

Change is reflected everywhere, both in the ways in which the world works, as well as in the ways things no longer work. The era of an oil-based economy, for example, is giving way to a new economy based upon forms of energy that are cleaner and more sustainable. The centralized production of our food from corporate farms half a world away is giving way to the healthy and sustainable production from small farms that invigorate local economies. The practice of creating wealth from industries that destroy our planet is giving way to socially responsible models of investing.

Arguably the greatest crisis that we face in our time of extremes is a crisis in thinking. And our thinking is the very key to the way we deal with the needs of the emerging world. You and I are being tasked with something that’s never been done. We’re being challenged to radically shift the way in which we think of ourselves and our relationship to the world, and to do so faster than any generation in history has ever done before.

Our willingness to think differently about ourselves and the world will be the key to the success of our journey. And while it’s definitely a big journey that we’re on, it’s also a short trip, because the world we’re traveling to is already here. It’s with us right now.

We Have the Solutions

Fortunately for us, the technology to solve the biggest challenges we face has already been discovered. The biggest problems we could ever imagine are already solved. The advanced principles are already understood. They all exist in this moment, right here, right now, and are at our fingertips.

All that stands between us and the new world—where energy comes from clean, abundant sources and is accessible to every member of our global family; where clean, healthy food is plentiful and available to every mouth on the planet; where every human is able to obtain the basic necessities to live a comfortable, meaningful life—is the thinking that makes room in our lives for what already exists in the world.

Are we willing to embrace the thinking that makes such possibilities a priority? Will we allow the science that reveals the deepest truths about our relationship to ourselves, one another, and the earth to become the passport for our journey?

The Big Picture

FACT 1: NOW IS DIFFERENT. From the breakdown of national economies and the end of so-called cheap oil, to the realities of climate change and the failure of the belief that war can settle our differences, a convergence of extreme conditions unlike anything known in the history of the world is upon us. It’s because now is different that the thinking of the past no longer works to solve our problems.

FACT 2: THE TURNING POINT OF THRIVING TRANSFORMATION CAN REPLACE THE TIPPING POINT OF EXTREMES. Nature provides a time when every crisis can be turned into transformation, when simply surviving the extremes in the world can be turned into a thriving way of life. That time is a turning point. A turning point emerges when a new force— a fact, a discovery, an experience—changes the way we address our course of events. What matters is that turning points of life may be spontaneous, or they may be created.

FACT 3: LIFE GETS BETTER, AND RESILIENCE IS THE KEY. It’s important to remember that the only things breaking down in our lives right now are ways of living and thinking that are no longer sustainable. Personal resilience makes room for big shifts in our lives, and is our greatest ally in our time of extremes.

FACT 4: WE ALREADY HAVE NEW SOLUTIONS. We already have the solutions necessary to create turning points of transformation in our lives. We don’t need to reinvent the wheel. Rather, we need to build the “road” of thinking that gives the “wheel” of solutions something to travel upon.

FACT 5: THE BIGGEST CRISIS IS THE MOST DIFFICULT TO ACCEPT. The single factor that lies between crisis and transformation is one that has eluded scientists, politicians and religious leaders alike. It’s a crisis in thinking. We must embrace the thinking that allows us to accept the existing solutions into our lives.

— G.B.