I was at a small event the other evening where the conversation was about the environment, economics and imagining futures better than the one at present.
One of the speakers mentioned that the reason why it is difficult to envision or create new futures is because of a crisis of imagination.
The problem is that we are stuck in traditional thinking ruts, we respond to change in predictable ways and we have not learned to re-imagine ourselves and the world around us.
I don’t blame anybody. The problems are so huge that it’s difficult to know where to start. Crime continues to spread like a cancerous disease, breaking down the social fabric and personal integrity, shutting the door on the conscience. Governments don’t fully understand the crime problem, are unable to contain it and the response is almost wholly inadequate.
Inequality is another problem that is so big that policymakers at their present level of thinking just don’t seem to have the answers. They pump billions into education, social services, infrastructure and health but the inequality remains.
Some are now saying that the financial crisis, the prolonged recession and the challenge of growth, is because of a crisis of the imagination. Old financial paradigms, outdated models of capitalism, lack of holistic systems thinking have blocked progress. The answer, they say, is imagining a new future where old concepts are turned on their head.
Educationalists today are concerned about children being exposed to a flood of manufactured images from television and the Internet that crowd their minds and keep them from forming their own images.
Yet Charles Darwin said that it is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent. It is the one, he said, that is the most adaptable to change. The other evening I was chatting to a friend who is a scientist. I asked him about the difference between an inanimate object and a living organism or creature. One of the main characteristics of “life” is that the organism or creature is in a constant state of change.
Entrepreneurs are at the risky edge where crisis offers opportunity for those who know how to grab it. They are experimenting with new business models. They are producing organic products and trying to get the quality and economies right. They are using technology in novel ways whether in renewables or smart phone apps that improve people’s lives.
If you acknowledge that obstacles are opportunities, that a crisis of imagination holds open the door to those who possess creativity and change is your friend and not the enemy, then go here to embark on your journey of the imagination.