I have been reading Naomi Klein’s latest book ‘This Changes Everything’ (Alfred A. Knope Canada 2014), a book I would highly recommend. Even though it comes in at close to 500 pages, every page is well researched and her general message is one of optimism about the future of our planet. In it, Klein suggests humans have been trying to conquer nature for the past 300 years, using it to for our purposes, even at its expense and that of humans. Evidence of this includes cutting down the rainforests, removing minerals from the earth, destroying the landscape, while having little regard for animals, vegetation and water. When we look at where our world is at and where it is heading, we quickly understand this approach isn’t working.
Klein talks about a need for humans to live in partnership with nature, respecting all aspects of it and working to support it so sustainability is possible for every living species. This requires us to understand how nature works, and what it needs to be resilient and hence sustainable. With understanding comes respect for all species, respect that leads to sustainability for all. As I read Klein’s book I couldn’t help but connect her thoughts on this larger issue with our work (smaller scale) and wondered – just how much understanding of our earth does each of us actually have? Based on our experience in leadership development alone, most of us rarely take the time to understand each other on a daily basis, let alone the time to understand other species. How will humans ever see the value of understanding other species if they rarely see the value of understanding their own, be it family, colleagues, bosses, or friends? I think we can all agree we all want the planet to remain habitable, not only for ourselves, but for future generations as well. What no one seems to agree on is how exactly to do it.
So we wondered, what do we do so we can move from our current need to conquer nature, and each other, to a place where we seek to understand and respect it? We have no idea ‘what’ is needed specifically to get there, however we do know one of the basic strategies of ‘how’ to get there is curiosity.
If the human race can shift from telling others what to do, shift from a position of imposing ‘power over’ each other and nature, and move to a place where we seek to understand one another, we will be moving towards respect for, and partnership with nature, a move towards sustainability of our planet Earth.
Only when we are curious can we be present to fully listen to what is being said, suspend judging to learn from others, and ask the open, curious questions required to help us all begin to change the paradigm of conquer and control to one of partnering which can lead to respect, understanding and sustainability. That is the power of curiosity and everyday we all hold that power to make change.
We cannot rely on politicians, CEOs, large organizations and/or other seats of power to create the needed change for our planet any more than we can rely on them to create the change needed in our individual lives. We need to begin acting in a curious way, each one of us, being open to how we can show up differently, how we can connect with others, understanding larger needs and forming communities that can create the momentum needed to start to move towards sustainability. Every single person on the planet is responsible for this and can help.
As Margaret Mead once said: “Never underestimate the power of a small group of committed people to change the world. In fact, it is the only thing that ever has.”
- What do you know about global warming?
- How can you find out more?
- How curious are you about other species you share your world with?
- How much do you understand about them?
- What are you doing to support sustainability of our planet Earth for us, for our children and future generations?
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