Y2K was the warm-up

Antwerp

Yep, I’m one of those.

“The future enters into us, in order to prepare itself in us, long before it happens.”
~ Ranier Maria Rilke

It occurs to me, now, that the significance of Y2K wasn’t that so many of us were wrong, but that so many of us learned about emergency preparedness and crisis management. I, for instance, learned about the essential interdependence of individual, civic, and military/governmental systems for responding to crisis. I agree with Tom Barnett: “Systematically examining a worst-case possibility should not be an exercise in fear, but one of discovery and learning.” His assertion is in the context of US military brainstorming concerning worst case crisis scenarios, globally.

The challenge is that deliberately and consciously choosing the stance of discovery in the face of fear requires labor – mental, emotional, cooperative and collective. Charles Cameron says “a Y2K lessons learned might be a very valuable project, and even more that we could benefit from some sort of grand map of global interdependencies.” I’m suggesting there is evidence that as more people become aware of these interdependencies (thank you economic crisis?), they/we are also becoming increasingly sensitive (as in affected by and reactive to) the implications.

A major theme of the past year for me (living temporarily in Belgium) has been sustainability. I was hosted by a self-described “green terrorist” for part of my stay, as a result I increased personal capacity for lowering my own ecological footprint. As an American with over four decades of lived experience consuming energy with nary a thought, just becoming aware of things I’ve taken for granted – such as how much generated power I use, and how heedlessly – has been the first hurdle.

After awareness comes action – which is another entire dimension of learning. I do mean learning, too – because engagement (i.e., doing something, especially anything different than what one usually does) is a change process. Some actions may result in little or no individual effect but aggregate into large social or institutional effects – an example-in-progress is now being debated about twittering and Iran. Staying honest despite the short-term rush of deception is being valorized:

Human beings are well capable of suspension of disbelief, which amounts to trusting one another to create a collaborate narrative that highlights the most authentic aspects of how we see ourselves and one another, to explore, to push the boundaries of what it means to co-create the mixed-media, mixed-reality world in which we live.

a blogpost on online ethics of self-representation, lying,
cultural collaboration, and the evolution of human consciousness

The question is whether we can find ways of telling the story of saving the planet that exemplifies and emboldens us to overcome the inevitable waves of individual and social panic. Here’s Cameron again, building on Don Beck:

“because the idea of “seeing the contours of our social systems” — if you like, glimpsing for a moment the intricate weave whose complex properties we call “the world” — remains … a vivid quest…

Beck works with vMemes, value memes that contribute to models of transformational change. Generating memes about individual efforts to reduce energy consumption is an idea proposed by friends – and I am amazed at the lists some people can recount (over stewed rabbit, no less!) I am also wondering about generating memes to USE YOUR JOB to leverage change in business practices – most acutely at investor, management, and policy levels.

Transform fear into change!
References/Resources:
“one of those” = waning of Public Interest in Y2K
“emergency preparedness” = differential impact on minority communities includes a downloadable prep sheet prepared by Nell Myhand after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans
quote about the willing suspension of disbelief = The ethics of changing your Twitter location to Tehran
Tom Barnett, Naval War College, Year 2000 International Security Dimension Project
Charles Cameron on Y2K lessons learned: Y2KO to Y2OK in The End That Does: Art, Science and Millennial Accomplishment (quotes above via personal correspondence)
“evidence” = a new attitude?
vMemes & models of transformational change = systems in people, not types of people
(re: biopsychosocial theory)

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