There is a lot to be said for working from an abundance over scarcity worldview. Where there is enough time, enough resources, enough opportunities, enough skills and energy to go around – this maybe the Pollyanna in me – but it does seem to help if I work from abundance. I was introduced to the book A Beautiful Constraint a couple of years ago when I was doing Seth Godin’s altMBA and it released inside of me the power of the constraint as a gift of abundance and since then I have railed against the idea of containment and conservation and embraced more of the radical around boundaries as gift and freedom. This seems to work for activism too as it taps into hope and possibilities and plumbs into improvised creativity, using what you have got rather than languishing for what is missing or in deficit. In the work of community mobiliser and community developer Cormac Russell‘s work it turns up in his mantra – work with what’s strong not wrong.
Of course there are times when you have to go beyond yourself and into the dark edges of the unknown to get what is needed to make a change. I do however, continue to be inspired by seeing how much can be done with what is already there and in the stripping back getting more. The pandemic has provided this opportunity more than once in democracies like Australia, where the flick of a pen has enabled the potential for universal basic income to be tasted and lets see how that starts to shape up in the public discourse.
Going to the end of our discomfort and then seeing what is there in that place is going to be a challenge for us all in places of privilege, what will we give up to unlock and unleash potential for others? Travel? A bigger contribution to the public purse? Time to volunteer for things important for our planet? These are already with us and we don’t need to wait for legislation or a politician to tell us what to do. If you see inequity you can do something small in your own sphere of influence and then invite others to join you, or you can also keep quietly going about it in your own way and start noticing all the others around the world doing the same thing. We are part of an invisible movement named by Paul Hawken as Blessed Unrest and everyone’s contribution how big or small is making a difference. I have found, feeling part of a movement can help with the feelings of isolation, insignificance and irrelevance.
All around me, I see young people taking up the fight for climate change and while I want to see more of them and more of my generation, they are there and I want to surround myself with that knowledge and ask my peers to join in. I see the retro suburbia movement growing every day, and fun and joy being spread by people dressing up to put out their waste (surely a sign that the next wave will be about waste management?). I see the power of song and dance and creativity on line in times of isolation where people can’t help but continue to share their gifts. I also see the wrath of neglect and power of leaders who refuse to let go of their machismo and I grieve for Brazil and the USA in particular here. This is juxtaposed though by the leadership of amazing women in democracies who are showing what is possible and translating compassion, play and indeed beautiful constraints into public policy. Jacinda Adern posting a message this week from a home made children’s fort to her nation via Facebook was not lost on me as a powerful message of the child at the centre of decision-making, unleashing the wisdom of the inner child and holding strong in the flimsy and impermanence of cardboard creations.
As one of the group who joined me this week in my weekly Happy Hour on line said now that the parks are open – if you see a swing, get on it! Play your way to the future you want to shape. Unleash your inner child to lead your activism.