I just finished reading an article by Lester R. Brown about an impending global food crisis entitled “Could Food Shortages Bring Down Civilization?”. In the article Brown makes the case that the combination of global warming, population growth and declining fresh water aquifers is a recipe for a global disaster. The prediction is pretty grim and completely feasible. Nation states will fail as their food supplies disappear. As more nations fail, the world will destabilize. As Brown points out, ” It is not the concentration of power but its absence that puts us at risk.”
Or to put it more bluntly, we can negotiate with a head of state or as we’ve shown ourselves capable in the past we can bomb the state back to the stone age. Try doing either to a failed state comprised of a bunch of warlord militias and starving mobs and suddenly our political and military advantages go right out the window. As we have seen in places like Somalia, the old ways do not work anymore. Has any great nation ever succeeded in keeping the barbarians at bay?
An impending global food crisis is but one of many such global challenges we face. Generations before us have also faced great challenges and as a result of their determination, creativity and effort, we stand here today confronting our own. However here today in this age, we have something past generations could only have dreamed of. We have global instantaneous communication. We have mind share, the cloud, Skype and Google. We can twitter a thought out loud and someone half a world away can hear us and join in on the conversation. This is why I found the last paragraph of the story to be most striking.
We desperately need a new way of thinking, a new mind-set. The thinking that got us into this bind will not get us out. When Elizabeth Kolbert, a writer for the New Yorker, asked energy guru Amory Lovins about thinking outside the box, Lovins responded: “There is no box.”
There is no box. That is the mind-set we need if civilization is to survive.
There is no box. The title I chose for this blog over a month ago when I realized fundamental change was going to require a fundamental shift in how we look for solutions to the challenges we face.
The time has come for us to stop defining ourselves, our actions, our responses by what was possible, but rather let us leap ahead and look to what is possible now. Let us tear down the four walls that have defined us and confined us. Let us take a step forward into a future that is connected and realize that there are new and better ways, together ways, to make a difference. To live connected. The time has come to think, not outside the box but about what we can do without the box.