Note — Aug 29, 2021

Collapse, Renewal and the Rope of History

Seen in → No.185

Source →

It seems to be a trait of a sizeable chunk of humanity to dwell on the negative, to be attracted to bad news. Here Gus, Amy and the rest of the FC team present an overview of the last month first in the common collapse-heavy tone, then in a more hopeful one. Both are entirely true, based on things that actually happened, but each makes a different selection and is written in a different way.

They then show, in part by way of Kurt Vonnegut’s Master’s thesis in anthropology for the University of Chicago, that there are all kinds of shapes of stories, that humans especially love renewal and collapse but that really, both coexist and each of us can decide which we are contributing to. Or, as in the excellent Jane Goodall quote they close with: “What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.”

The labels we give to the past aren’t descriptors. They’re propaganda. They depend on who’s telling the story, and are applied post facto, usually for political purposes. […]

[T]he signals for disaster are everywhere we look, and so are endless examples of human progress, environmental stewardship, ecological restoration and extraordinary acts of kindness, all densely entwined and far too complex to resolve into a simple three act structure. […]

We can choose which strand of the rope we belong to. We can add to its grand weave, in the way we treat other people, in the daily work we do, in the decisions we make about where to put our energy, in the leaders we vote for and in the words that come out of our mouths.