What does this crisis ask of us? - reflecting on step into action.

“Only a crisis - actual or perceived - produces real change. When that crisis occurs, the actions that are taken depends on the ideas that are lying around”. - Milton Friedman.

A crisis literally throws the lid off, and asks us all to face what we did not want to look at before. Be it a nonexisting relationship with the older generation, tension arising while spending time at home with each other as a family, or seeing our own deep dependency for security and a stable income source. The next question to then ask ourselves is “how do we choose to respond to what we've now become aware of?”


A crisis like this one could lead to economy further exploiting opportunities for profits, to the weak being bought up by the rich, to the world of transport and traffic re-establish itself, using the same sources of coal and oil, to hygiene hysteric fueled by fear of another pandemic  (“don't touch this or that, Germs are bad!”), to increase isolation at home and induction of technology (“why even go shopping anymore when i can have everything delivered”). This is scary but also very likely to happen. It has happened before in times of crisis and disruption. 


But it could also be a time of total healthy transition. The time when the reforms and money packages to save the economy come with green restrictions and a message to change business as usual. The time when gift economies unfold naturally and the ideas of Universal basic income comes back into the conversation. The time when local food relationships and living communities take form and reshape the meaning of livelihoods and worklife. The time for immense creativity and entrepreneurial contribution. You find a million blocks and articles displaying this hope: 


What feels really important to be in this time is this! This is not a time to lean back and hope things will change for the better - out of the blue. The ideas lying around that speak about a sustainable change will not get picked up automatically, no we have to get active and vocal about what ideas we think are critical for the future. It depends upon us, and especially young people to get aware about what kind of world they want to live in and to get active and engaged in how to shape that world. 


And what should the role of step into action be in all of this?


Also, we in the projekt step into action can look at ourselves through new eyes or go back to business as usual. So the big question to ask ourselves could be “what do we as step into action believe our work to be now, in the light of this crisis?”. How can our team and community respond to the knowledge: that restoring “the society” to “normal” would be a deeply lost opportunity?


These are the conversations that i would like to have within our Team and community: 


The Hope and spirit  of youth. 

This can be the time when it is the young people who find ways to break the addictive hold on normality, because the young people have to “unlearn” much less than the grown ups. Young people have a unique position because they are less addictive to their habits of thoughts and norms. And for the first time we have ALL seen that change is possible. For decades we as a global society have been moving with snail speed towards now using an average of 2,5% of the GDP in the world on green initiatives. In less than a month governments have put together initiatives and packages that make us use an average of 5-13% of GDP on the Corona crisis. IT IS POSSIBLE TO CHANGE FAST. This brings an immense amount of hope. A hope that somehow deeply reminds me of how things used to be within euforia when the connection to the spirit of youth was still so strong. How can we reconnect to this hope, and rejuvenate this unique position to discover something new with the spirit of youth?


Stimulate connection and systems thinking:  

The corona virus has taken its hold on our society and some of the reasons for its rapid expansion has to do with our global lifestyle and interconnectedness, which allows the virus to spread fast and far carried by human connection. This interconnectedness is normally very abstract and many of us have a hard time viewing the world as it is - one big interconnected system. If we want to move out of this crisis learning from our experience, it is clear that we need to foster much more awareness of systems thinking and systems dynamics. 


How to do that? How to hold the new orienting principles that put our planet and ourselves as an interconnected system into the middle? We all and especially young people need to be faced with questions that provoke and stimulate their sense for interrelatedness with others. The skills and abilities to make healthy relationships to oneself, to others and to the planet play therefore a pivotal part in how to manifest this new orientation. 


For this reason the young people and teachers we influence, should be asked the following questions: Why am i here? Am I here to reproduce, preservation and maximise, searching the highest bandwidth, life expectancy and GDP per person? Is this what it is about? Or am I here to make something beautiful out of my life, so that instead of leaving no trace I leave a positive trace on the world? And what is a beautiful life? What does it mean to me to live it beautifully, and not just long?


Resilience to not be convinced about enemies (dynamics of inequality and xenophobia )

Hence what we see taking shape under the waves of this turbulence is at the moment both optimism for change and reflection, but also patterns of control and domination driven by fear, that expressed itself as moralisation, denial, undemocratic policies, depression and as we have seen before can lead to both ethnophobia, xenophobia and expand inequality. Some example of these expressions we see when we hear the american president arguments stating that this virus is forreign, as if it has nothing to do with “us”, or when we realize that a hashtag like #staythefuckathome creates additional pressure and reveals a divide between the people who feel safe at home and those who don’t. Wikipedia now has a page collecting examples from more than 35 countries on “xenophobia and racism related to the 2019-20 coronavirus pandemic. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_incidents_of_xenophobia_and_racism_related_to_the_2019%E2%80%9320_coronavirus_pandemic

So what does it take to develop the super power and resilience to not be convinced about these enemy projections and stories of xenophobia? How does our work promote this awareness? How could we do that more?


Understanding global power structures and influence (capacity to hold and practice our own authority and self-empowerment):  

How can young people deal with power structures that seem so immense? And that we HAVE to deal with if we want to make sure that the recovery process during and after this crisis does not sneak in more of the same old. Does not become an excuse to expand and enforce undemocratic and unsustainable polices, in the name of “emergency”? (In Hungary e.g Orban just passed a law giving him a lifetime seat as president). Does not recover business while cutting off social programs? (what happened a lot during the financial crisis) Does not recover the old economy, but actively use this change to invest in a more sustainable economic model? Just like greenwashing is a concept we know well, where sustainability initiates (although done with the best intentions) are merely used as shields to present something positively, will we see a similar crisis-washing? What does it take for us and for the younger generation to notice this, to detect it and say STOP!? In step into action we have already thought a lot about meeting the problem closer to the root cause. Did we learn something new during this time about our TOC?


What is the role of volunteering? 

Sharing the goods of the world more equality, Sharing ownership, making incentives to privatise into incentives for the commons, requires the deepest sense of what it means to gift and share without retribution. We work with volunteers, and we see different reasons for why people choose to volunteer with us. Some want to be part of something they find meaningful, some want a certificate to support their career, some want to be identified with changemaking, and many wish for a bit of everything. The questions and motivation behind giving and gifting one's own time and energy to something is really important. 

The substance of the gift economy is to give something without expecting something in return. Which does not mean we should not get something in return, we should, but it works differently than the logic of exchange (i get something you get something that is the same value at the same moment). A gift economy system takes us out of an exchange paradigm, because it runs on the assumption that everything I give is a gift that does not have to be compensated right away. I give it freely. BUT it only works if the gifts are acknowledged, and if everyone is part of giving and gifting something. How do we grow and promote a gift economy with how we engage with volunteering? How do we look at volunteering? How do we acknowledge? How do we lead volunteers? With what attitudes and principles we use?


Finally....

This is a time of change, an opportunity to rethink what kind of world we want to see and live in. And this change starts with us. So How do we think differently about ourselves in step?

It is our job now to make sure we direct this change and shape this possibile imprint to promote what we (step into action) are here for. Lets start these conversations! :)






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