Surf’s Up!

One of the articles in Business On A Small Planet (IC#41)
Originally published in Summer 1995 on page 62
Copyright (c)1995, 1997 by Context Institute

Dear IC Readers,

As I reflect on what has been said in this issue, I find myself wanting to echo and reinforce much of what has been said, and add, not so much a note of urgency, as one of immediacy.

My sense, now that I am back in Europe after two months traveling through Australia, New Zealand, and the Pacific US, is that the major social systems – economic, political, familial, etc. – are unraveling everywhere at a remarkable pace, a pace that is felt but still not fully seen.

Like Willis Harman, I find myself often drawing parallels between the change going on globally now and the change that took place in the former USSR. I used to tell my Russian friends, back in the late 1980s, that they were just 10 years ahead of us. Few people in 1985 would have believed that events there would have unfolded so rapidly between then and 1991. Now, in 1995, I suspect few of us are psychologically ready for the pace of change we are likely to encounter over the next few years.

There is much that we can anticipate, and even see the beginnings of already around us. I’d like to think that this issue of IN CONTEXT, as well as many others, help with that anticipation. Yet the aspects of change that often cause us the most difficulty are its surprises.

So, along with my usual plea to get on with creating sustainable alternatives, I would urge you to develop and refresh those skills that will enable you to move creatively with the surprises of the coming years.

Loosen your mind from the all-too-easy assumption that the way things are is how they always will be. Practice listening to and acting on your intuition. Pay attention to what feels really important in your life and stop putting it off until ___ (fill in the blank). Ask yourself from where do you derive your sense of security? Will that be adequate in a world where many of our existing social and economic institutions may go through profound change?

And above all, practice being easy – on yourself and on others. Forgiveness is the great lubricant that enables us to move with the changes and keep joy in our hearts. Each of us must act on our own best understanding of the truth, but especially in times as complex as ours, we also need the humility to recognize that we know only a tiny part of the whole story.

I remain an optimist. If anything, my travels leave me even more so. I expect that when the dust settles, perhaps decades from now, we and our descendants will be well pleased with the transformation in human life that has transpired. Yet I don’t expect we will get there by putting our heads in the sand or riding it out in some survivalist campsite. No, it is by being the change that we will most easily traverse the turbulent times between now and that positive future. Be of good cheer, and by all means, get loose. The surf is definitely up.

Context Institute’s Founder and Director Robert Gilman has spent the last few months talking with community groups and government officials in Australia, New Zealand, and Hawaii. Robert is now in Delft, The Netherlands, where he will meet with European groups and officials, research sustainable economics and ecovillages. Robert can be reached at this e-mail address:

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