Humanity has reached the most critical watershed period in its history. To survive this crucial era, we must deal with the consequences of our collective irresponsibility: unresolved global relations, monetary exploitation, misguided technological development, excessive human consumption, hyper-militarization, and exhaustion of environmental resources, to name a few. We are approaching absolute limits in nearly all vital areas, threatening the very survival of mankind. To survive, we need to tap into the transformative power of crisis.
This is the perfect storm of a defining era. It is not some futuristic horror scenario; it is happening in our lives now and we need to face facts. This is the moment to set aside complacency, analyze the evidence, and connect those critical dots. This is not a time for voicing opinions and platitudes; it is a time to tap into the transformative power of crisis by making drastic changes in our behaviors.
Futurist Hardy Schloer calls these times we live in the Consequence Era – a time that spans from 2010 to around 2050 and during which the consequences of past actions are coming due. It is payday and the very survival of our species will be determined by the actions we take now.
In a 2012 article published in the Club of Amsterdam Journal, Schloer outlines ten stages that all societies cycle through: from the first stage of irresponsible exuberance that fosters reckless behavior, to the collapse of unsustainable systems and rebirth of society in stage ten.
Schloer is not alone in his observations. Futurists and visionaries have been calling for urgent action since the 1980s. Recently, the BBC charted a list of changes anticipated in the next 150 years, along with the likelihood of each event occurring. It tracked developments in computing, politics, business, science nature, society and technology. The chart shows a clear shift towards increasing dystopia as we approach 2020, indicating a buildup of social pressure for obsolete systems to give way.
We are well into this Consequence Era and crises seem to everywhere. It is important to note that in our global community, these crises affect each one of us on this planet: rich and poor, North and South, East and West.
We know that the transformative power of crisis can be seen in individual transformations that tend to occur when people are pressed to make changes, often during crisis. Fewer transformations occur when things are going well and there is no apparent need to evolve, because we inherently resist change.
Nothing motivates like fear. Sometimes vision alone is insufficient. At such times, the juxtaposition of a frightening possibility and a sustainable alternative can team up to accelerate our shift to new states of consciousness and behavior.
It is time to look at the bigger milieu that forms the backdrop of our daily lives. We are connected to everything that happens in the world out there, for better and for worse. By connecting the dots of what is happening globally, we can tap into the transformative power of crisis to take effective action locally.
This process requires willingness: willingness to re-examine old assumptions, beliefs and attitudes; willingness to abandon old behaviors; and willingness to incorporate more beneficial practices. And this time, it is not just for the fun of personal growth; our survival depends on it. Are you willing to use the pain and discomfort in your life as fuel to grow?
I believe that we can tap into the transformative power of crisis globally to transform our minds, heal our lives and rebuild our world. It is time to muster the courage for meaningful change. We need to examine the bigger picture, educate ourselves about emerging potentials, and take appropriate action at the individual level. When we can do this, we will find creative ways to ultimately thrive during the Consequence Era.
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