At 6:16 AM, Eastern Standard Time, the tragic death of Benazir Bhutto was confirmed by US news outlets. This outrageous act is one more demonstration that the concept of "normality" is continually being challenged, now more than ever. Normality implies that there is some sort of standard mode of being through which the present condition of a system can be evaluated, as in "It's normal to start work by 9AM." or "It's normal for American women to have 2.1 children." Normality means that you don't have to start every day wondering if it might be a complete discontinuity from the one before it.
I believe that our sense of security and well-being is deeply rooted in the implicit assumption of normality. I also believe that the presumption that tomorrow is going to be pretty much like today is no longer valid.
A sense of reality that reflects insight into the disparity of forces colliding is a more accurate description of the facts of life. It is as though a googol of vectors from every conceivable provenance are constantly putting out their energy and interacting with each other in ways both understood and awe-inspiring.
Normality is a delicate weave of these factors that we take for granted; it is the fractal we have come to know and expect. Normality can be anywhere from bland to grand, as in this Kells book image that implies/describes infinity:
Reality is the interaction, the collision, the dynamic turbulence of a multitude of fractals in ways that frequently are self-canceling (bland) and occasionally absolutely climactic, as in the literal crashing of galaxies:
When vectors collide, replicate, interact, entrain in new ways, they create feedback effects for which we have no preparation.
And that is the point.
Even though there are a multiplicity of ways in which nothing seems to be changing, ours is an era in which the pace of change is accelerating beyond all known precedents. Who will be assassinated tomorrow? Who will be born tomorrow? Who and what will be understood tomorrow?
Those of us whose minds are wedded to yesterday's assumptions are woefully unprepared for the complexity that is coming...Hell, it's already here! In fact, we may be so locked in to what we know and how we know it that we can't even begin to see what we cannot see.
So, when the inevitable happens, we are surprised. We are shocked. We might even be so astonished, we die.
Nowhere is this lack of readiness more apparent in today's American lifestyle than in the fields of energy and transportation. These massive carbon-based systems are going to collapse someday. They simply aren't sustainable. At some level, everyone knows this, but the vast majority of us live as though this impending crisis will always remain a myth instead of crystallizing into reality.
But -- in spite of the fact that I've been wrong for years! -- I don't believe that the inevitable can be permanently postponed. Someday -- and it may be someday soon -- it will be upon us. And, when it arrives, most of us will be frightened, confused, worried and surprised! (Not all of us, but most of us.)
Dramatic change in energy and transportation dynamics will exert an enormous impact on where and how we live and how we interact with each other in getting around. I believe that our sense of individualism is greatly reinforced by the fact that so many of us spend a great deal of time alone in our automobiles. And, as a result of this "freedom," we live in relative isolation from each other in our suburban and exurban environments. The consequences of these patterns of living on our individual and cultural consciousness is largely unseen, but immense. A real inflection point in energy prices will threaten assumptions we are not even aware of because they are such background constancies in our reality.
And, when we experience existential threats and conditions, we will make tremendous demands on our leaders. It will be a time when the old aphorisms and homilies fail. It will be a day when only the demagogues and the legitimate big picture thinkers will be heard. It will be a time of a great struggle between those who want to serve themselves and those who want to serve the well-being of the planet and the viability of humanity's preeminent democracy. The looming energy discontinuity won't be solved with a 35 mpg fuel standard.
Anticipatory Leaders will be ready for this moment. They have time to prepare their minds, their hearts, their communication skills, their passion, their values, their information, and their networks right now. Working with the systems thinkers of the Society for Organizational Learning, Art of the Future is offering a range of future mind coaching and consulting services to those who are ready to embrace the new reality, i.e., the recognition that a singularity of some sort is approaching, a moment when humanity will confront the possibility of consciously reinventing itself (including the ways in which it generates, uses and conserves energy) or choosing the suicide of a requiem scenario.
Future Mind Coaching includes the following ingredients:
1. The scope of Future Shock with particular emphasis on the implications of the crisis of carbon
2. Discovering and challenging fundamental assumptions -- what you take so for granted that you can't even seen it and what a difference it makes to reconsider what you think you know
3. Becoming new through a range of processes, technologies, meditations and readings devised to "change your mind" to, as Gandhi said, be the change.