Preparing for an Unsure Future

“…in November 1942, the economist William Beveridge had published a radical report on the way that Britain should be rebuilt after the war.” 2

The significance of sharing that odd piece of historic trivia is that very few people before World War II anticipated such a radically changed future as occurred during and after the war.

As an explanation for Beveridge’s insight, David Bohm tell us, “When things are going smoothly there is no way to know that there’s anything wrong — we have already made the assumption that what’s going on is independent of thought. When things are represented, and then presented in that way, there is no way for you to see what is happening — it’s already excluded. You cannot pay attention to what is outside the representation. There’s tremendous pressure not to; it’s very hard. The only time you can pay attention to it is when you see there is trouble — when a surprise comes, when there’s a contradiction, when things don’t quite work.

However, we don’t want to view this process as a ‘problem,’ because we have no idea how to solve it — we can’t project a solution.” 3

What escapes almost all people is that when they do not anticipate a changed future, they are unable to prepare ahead to change the future to an outcome that benefits them. The situation becomes even more precarious when individuals and the public accept their impotence to change the future.

It does not take an in-depth survey of critical conditions across the globe to come to the conclusion that one cataclysmic “black swan” event could initiate a cascade of outcomes that would challenge the continued existence of civilization as we know it. Our civilization is in an existential crisis with billions of people unaware, or in denial, that the increasing social, political, and economic dysfunction around us can neither be prevented nor stopped from becoming more and more desperate.4 Once the black swan event occurs, the cascade of events will bring about the collapse to most nations.

The litany of tragedies that I have mentioned in the above paragraph does entertain an audience with the continuing hype that so many people have come to expect from the media … and have gotten used to it and numbed to it. They no longer give it much thought. But for thinking citizens, the question has always been this, “So, if this is not preventable, and all of these tragedies are inevitable, how do we prepare for recovering afterwards?”

That is my question as well, plus another very important question, “Should we rebuild our broken societies by fixing the problems of our antiquarian social, political, and economic structures, or should we create solutions that give us the real possibility of designing our democratic societies to become socially sustainable into a long and thriving future?” Our situation is very similar to the observations of William Beveridge in November 1942, except that our situation now involves not just Britain but the global community of nations and all of humanity.

Pearson, Helen 2016 The Life Project. Soft Skull Press, Berkeley, CA ISBN: 978-1-59376-645-0, p 29.
Bohm, David On Dialogue (2004): 68.

3  Limits of Growth 1972. Funded by the Volkswagen Foundation and commissioned by the Club of Rome.
Donnela Meadows, Donnela, Jørgen Randers, Dennis Meadows 1972, 2004. Limits to Growth: The 30-Year Update. Chelsea Green Publishing Co.

4  Strauss, William, Neil Howe 1977. The Fourth Turning – An American Prophecy. Broadway Books, New York, New York
Martenson, Chris 2011 The Crash Course – The Unsustainable Future of Our Economy, Energy, and Environment. John Wiley & Sons, Hoboken, New Jersey