CBAECO CIVILISATION

What are the right questions to ask?

What are the right questions to ask?

CBA CONVERSATION WITH VIOLETA BULC
29th March 2020
Dear Violeta,
As I said the other day, “The alarm has changed in tone and volume.” This came to my mind when reading the book of Carola Rackete.Through the overwhelming effects of the pandemic we have realised that this is not about taking temporary shelter and waiting until everything ‘gets back to normal’ – that ‘normal’ has gone for good.
Nothing remained as it was before. And yet, while we are healing the mankind from the terrible pandemic, we still have the planet to heal.
Is it already too late for the planet? After all this it’s clear that humans have a problem seeing the exponential growth of any phenomenon coming. Are social hierarchies totally inapt for the challenges we are facing today?
The unprecedented global impact and the perceived duration of the crisis makes it clear that we have entered a new era. The adaptation to a socially-constrained life and keeping up with the most urgent matters, besides health, has spontaneously prompted an ongoing reflection in many of us on how we can make use of this collective global experience for the good of the humanity. However, what are the right questions to ask, among many questions that remain unanswered these days?
I am not simply asking, what will the world be like afterwards. Or, when all this will end. Nor, how. I am thinking about another question: What can we do to make the world more livable afterwards?
Even in this complicated period so much depends on us. And I understand this as the beginning of hope.
What can we learn from this extreme global experience?
How can we equip ourselves to defeat the pandemic and prevent anything like this ever happening again?
Not less importantly, what can we leave behind? Which habits can we drop?
How can we reimagine our lives, our households, our organisations, and our living environments: the cities, infrastructure and communications?
How can we reconcile humanity with nature?
And how can we distribute the achievements of science and technology in a more just and more efficient way across the globe, among all generations and within our societies and communities.
These are some of the questions that pop up in my mind.
So, where do we start our thinking process?
Here I am leaving the word to you to start the conversation.
Regards, J.
Dear Jurij,
Thank you very much for your letter. It has been a while since I have exchanged a real letter with my colleague. I am realizing that it feels really good to respond in writing. It is more personal, it gives me an opportunity to pause for a second, formulate the thoughts and look at my comments with a bit self-reflection.
I hope my reply will find you and your loved ones healthy and in good spirit. Indeed, the current situation is inviting us to re-think many things: our relationship with those close to us, with our purpose in life and the trace we want to leave behind, our relationship with our inner and outside world. It challenges us in our immediate reactions to the crisis; what can I do; where is my place; what is my attitude towards the good of the society and to my own. Do you have similar thoughts in your quiet moments?
We moved into the 3rd week of self-isolation and I expect many people experiencing serious emotional challenges, psychological stress and trauma. Today’s news from Germany is just a living example of that.
I am even more disciplined with my meditations, walks, organized work and really permanent virtual coffee chats with my family and friends. Just to stay focused, active on all levels, connected, real.
But I have to say, I often think also about how this crisis is or could be misused by those in power. I was alarmed by the article that my friend sent me just few hours ago. 
These are the times when we will all have to face a new reality and as you say the ‘normal that we know is gone for good’ and it is now up to us to bravely and boldly imagine the world we want to live from now on. I feel that much more than just a health system is at stake right now. We are talking about our freedom, democracy, economic order. Many might think that these challenges are too big to think about. But they are not. They are profoundly touching every one of us – now and in the future.
How do you feel about it? I want to invite the whole city of Ljubljana, Slovenia, the EU and the entire world to go deeper into our own thoughts, to feel our own revelations, to see the light that shines through the cracks, as Cohen is saying, and open the doors that can shine on all.
But before I dive too deep into my own corridors, let me compliment you on the questions you have raised. Let me pick up a few and leave the rest for our future debates. 
Is it already too late for the planet? After all this it’s clear that humans have a problem seeing the exponential growth of any phenomenon coming. Are social hierarchies totally inapt for the challenges we are facing today?
No, it is never too late. It is always the right time to start walking a new, fresh path. The history is teaching us that even the most powerful empires transformed into something new after a while, or even entirely disappeared, the most solid convictions have been overthrown, the most solid relationships changed. But it is true, that the world that for centuries was the one bringing changes, new philosophical shifts, fresh understandings with ourselves, the Universe and life (I have Europe in mind), became too compliant with the cocoon of the society we live in. Like a frog in worm water. But there is bubbling happening underneath and not all the people are in the pot… I have hope.
However, what are the right questions to ask, among many questions that remain unanswered these days?
I am not simply asking, what will the world be like afterwards. Or, when all this will end. Nor how. I am thinking about another question: What can we do to make the world more livable afterwards?
I hope you are not asking for a final solution yet?! I believe we need to foster as many discussions as possible, hear each others’ thoughts, inspire each other and find a collective move forward. The new solutions will very likely emerge from the civil movements, which will also bring on board professionals from different areas of work and convictions. 
Even in this complicated period so much depends on us. And I understand this as the beginning of hope.
What can we learn from this extreme global experience?
Well, during my quiet moments one strong message is emerging: We are done with “izms”: capitalism, socialism, nationalism, communism, federalism… They served the purpose. Now it is time to thank them and dare to enter a new dynamic structure of self-organization. Network-based: in a sense of creating and sharing value, recognizing common challenges, co-creating new solutions based on the principle “we all make efforts to build a critical mass of awareness, knowledge and operational capacity to deliver solutions without fear of being misused or left behind, because the outcome will be shared, too. For that we need a new understanding of intellectual rights that acknowledge the contribution of the society to the exceptional achievements of an individual and vice versa.
What do you think about that?
How can we equip ourselves to defeat the pandemic and prevent anything like this from ever happening again? 
I believe that there are three ways to respond to the virus, and this is an accumulated understanding that I credit to everything I have read about the virus in the last few weeks in media or has evolved through the discussions I was a part of.
Firstly, we can find a way to kill the virus. Yes, we can and will have a vaccine eventually, but viruses are learning fast too, and they keep mutating, re-inventing themselves. So, such a response is weak and short-sighted.
Secondly, we can try to change the way we live, prevent the virus from getting in touch with us. That is another of immediate responses needed, but it is not a sustainable one. We are social, community type of spices that work best when in direct touch with others. Isolation goes against the fundamental principle of life. Homo-sapiens eliminated the Neanderthals because it started to gather in larger communities and develop group defence systems to defend against other creatures and/or natural disasters. Community was what kept us alive.
Does this make any sense to you?
And there is also the third option, that we strengthen our immune system and learn how to co-exist with viruses without being threatened, killed by them. I like this third option best, but it will require a fundamental shift in how we cooperate, trust each other and share the benefits of our work. How do you feel about it?
Not less importantly, what can we leave behind? Which habits can we drop?
To get the synchronization with nature back is easier than we think. But to do it fast we need leaders that can lead the change. That will make sure that circular economy enters every decision we make, every investment we make. I have seen major changes developing in front of my eyes – also with my help – at the EU level: greenification of transport, transformation of EIB to a green bank, major shift in individual data ownership rights against a strong US dominance, etc. I feel that we can do it, I know that we can do it…
The future models for sustainable societies will be network-based and will in their core embrace system thinking… I just hope that we can smoothly transition to these new structures without physical conflicts and terror.
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