COVID-19 – A WINDOW OF OPPORTUNITY?
“Wisdom is revealed without words” – a message from the field
Looking out from my living room I see a blooming garden with fruit trees, birds, bees and butterflies. The silence is occasionally interrupted by the sound of human electric devices, a chainsaw, a vacuum cleaner, a Bluetooth speaker. Tuoro Sul Trasimeno, a small town in central Italy, in the times of COVID-19 outbreak, like the rest of the world, feels like living a past-future film. Social distancing, lock-down, silent and empty streets echo old memories and imaginary futures. I find myself appreciating the intelligent design and opportunity to reflect and rethink the social systems we are part of.
Those of us that have dedicated their lives for bringing “social change” or “system change” I feel it is a humbling moment. With all our climate rebellions and marches, all our international conferences, summits, and think tanks, nothing has been as remotely effective in reducing carbon emissions as this tiny cellular being which came to us from a small and endangered specie.
It calls me to re-consider change, not as something we (humans/activists/change-makers) actively do or have the sole responsibility of, but rather something which happens/will happen anyway and we have the responsibility to respond to the best of our abilities. Climate change, viral pandemics, wars are complex events which root causes and functions go beyond the rational ways of knowing. Does that mean we should just do nothing? Sit idly by as the world goes by? Yes… And No.
It is to soon to tell what would be the human toll of the current outbreak which could by some experts get up to 3% of the global population (which means more than 210 million). We can and should hold spaces where the fear, pain, confusion and grief of what is lost could be expressed. As activists, change-makers and leaders we can sit and contemplate, see the world and learn from it, together. Aligning our words with our actions and our actions with the changing world.
The economical insatiability and social risks of the current crisis come to hand by hand with a significant reduction in carbon emissions and surge of creative solidarity among local and global communities. What is the connection? Could it be our socio-economic systems and indicators are not compatible with the well-being of our planet and our community? And what systems and indicators can be compatible with eco-social well-being?
WHAT ARE SOCIAL FIELDS AND HOW CAN THEY HELP US?
“Social fields are social systems — but seen also from within… And aims to shed light onto the usually invisible dimension of collective experience” – Otto Scharmer and Eva Pomeroy
A train wagon, a WhatsApp group, an entire nation, all could be seen as social systems/fields, to research social fields is to connect and make visible to “the felt sense of a social system”. Human beings (and non-human beings) are naturally capable and literate in “reading”, “interpreting” and “shifting/changing with” social fields. Think of a situation or a moment in which you have gotten a caring message from a far way a friend, how did this feel? Did you experience a change of temperature or a change in the colour/quality of the light? How did this affect you being and you’re doing? How did it affect your social sounding?
Global events like the COVID-19 outbreak has a strong rippling effect which could shift how we interact physically, emotionally and structurally in our social systems/fields. while social fields can have physical properties and boundaries (like the edge of the walls of a train wagon or the borders of a country), the relational fabric and the shared field of consciousness, expand and radiate beyond them. Social fields are living organism that is that have “layers” and are multidimensional and exist both in physical space-time as well as in the imagined space-time (e.g an awareness and perception of the future). This “meta-poetic” and “imaginative” aspect of the social field are connected to the the “consensual reality”. It is this “dream/myth reality”, the collective imagination, that is constantly informing and creating the “consensual reality”.
This collective imagination and story is multi-layered and constructed over time. This is why the outbreak psychological and the global social impacts of the outbreak in the region of Hubei and China and in North Italy and Europe are experienced differently by the collective imagination. Italy which is one of the most popular global tourist destination and historically important for the story of western localisation hosts some of the most known cities and fashion brands of global culture. The new outbreak connects with the collective memory of the “black death” and the “fall of Rome” and shifts the perception of the new Coronavirus outbreak from yet another disturbing story in the news to the greatest and most immediate and apocalyptic threat on the western-global culture, which it probably is but maybe does not mean necessarily the “end of the world”.
In the “universe of social fields” emotionally charged global like COVID-19, are terra-forming and has the potential to shift and transform global culture. Living in Italy and experiencing the lock-down I could sense the opportunity and great transformative potential of shifting toward a more sustainable and regenerative global culture. Slowing-down our hectic lifestyles, reducing our international travel, building local and global community solidarity and sharing our wisdom, skills and gifts in new ways (and online), can be just the needed ingredients for a global transition to fossil-free global culture.
Social systems could be illustrated using the metaphor of an iceberg in which only 10% is visible and the other 90% is submerged. Otto Scharmer has been expanding the use of the iceberg model from trying to understand corporate and organisational culture and challenges (Edgar Schein) to trying and understand global culture and challenges. We could also try an imagine the social field as the ocean which contains the iceberg, or how the iceberg feels like as the ocean currents “dance around” it.
We could also try and imagine the layers of the social field as the inside of planet earth. Like the Earth’s crust, a thin shell accounting for less than 1% of Earth’s volume, physical and visual reality as experienced through the senses, account only for a small fraction of the social field.
Under the crust are the relational patterns which guide the social dynamics of the system and the patterns of awareness which inform how we see (or don’t see) ourselves as part the systems around us.
In the inner core is a “fire” which gives life it the trans-personal aspect of a system, connected with the larger “mythical” and timeless field (the Aboriginal people of Australia call it “The Dreaming”).
How can we map and make visible this constantly evolving social field in a way which makes visible its deeper layers?
When geologists studied started to study the inner layers of the earth the did it using seismic devices studying patterns in the earth movement during earthquakes.
What are the seismic devices and events which will allow us to measure and map our social fields and systems?
Artists and children, we could access these deeper layers of the social field when they create art or when they play make-belief games. what if we could use arts-based and game-based research approach to map social systems and social fields?
“Wisdom is deep connection to the life source that goes much deeper from our mind ability . it gives us access to an enormous sphere of possibilities, what we really need at this time is to trust this, listening the deep source within us and acting from it. Acting from the heart enables others to do so as well, helping each other and ourselves to be free from fear.” – Ellen Bermann, The Wisdom Interviews.*
*The above words came from an interview I made as part of ongoing research towards an economy of wisdom. If you would like to to receive the full transcripts of this video together with other wisdom keepers please you are welcome to write to me. These interviews and other materials will be posted on this website soon, so stay tuned.