We are currently receiving many varied messages about what is, and will be happening to the earth, and us, in the run-up to 2012, the year that predictions say will bring a massive transition. This can cause confusion, and for some people, fear and anxiety. Change is often destabilising, not least when it involves the potential collapse and disappearance of long-lasting structures.
Change brings opportunity, however, and many people are opening up to ideas of sharing and exchange, more localised production, and autonomy in caring for their own health. Local Exchange Trading Systems, non-profit networks in which goods and services can be traded without the need for money, are becoming increasingly popular. In France, the main one is SEL (Systèmes d’Echange Locaux).
There are people like Little Grandmother (Little Grandmother) who are inspiring and uplifting in the messages they are bringing. The messages being brought to us by Marla (Maria del Socorro Pérez Farfàn) at the Centre d’Études Kardem in Guadalajara, Mexico, are positive and enlightening, and talk about a major transition in 2010, but these messages are currently accessible only to those who speak Spanish for French. They are also messages that require huge leaps of vision and understanding to be able to grasp.
Magazines like Resurgence, edited by Satish Kumar, bring us articles like the one on Educating for Gross National Happiness (rather than Gross National Product) in Bhutan. It’s in publications like this that such issues as Nature Deficit Disorder and “dismantling development” actually get an airing.
The traditional media continues to focus mostly on what is going wrong rather than what could be done to put things right, and death and disaster will almost always hit the headlines before a news item about a positive development.
Change, however, is coming, not least because of fast-developing independent means of communication. People are increasingly able to put their views across without going through third parties that more often than not favour profit over free and fair speech.
The times truly are a-changin’.
Postscript: I’m trying not to get nostalgic for those days when the norm was a financial payment for articles or translations. It’s not unusual now for a writer or translator to be offered free publicity in exchange for their work. (That doesn’t seem a fair exchange to me.) Just recently, a leading British newspaper offered me a free three-month subscription as payment for a proposed article. I declined. Bills can’t be paid with newsprint, and I have more than enough to read every day as it is. Websites, and particularly travel websites, can draw on a deluge of readers’ contributions to fill their pages, and have little use for experienced freelance journalists who charge a fee. This transition period is certainly a challenge. But, hey, let’s stay positive. The old structures are collapsing, anyway, so best to trace new paths.