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The Next Five Years
A couple weeks ago I spoke to a couple hundred people in Boulder, CO on the topic, “The Next Five Years.” (Video here). The main theme was how to stay sane in crazy times. We are facing a period of turbulence, not only in external affairs, but in our ways of making sense and meaning. We are in the midst of an accelerated unraveling of our collective stories and agreements. The redoubts of the old reality are crumbling. Their garrisons (such as mainstream media) are looking nervously over their shoulders. Those who would narrate to us what the coming social, economic, and political upheaval means have lost their credibility and their confidence. In the next five years, all manner of new stories, new meanings, and new identities will offer themselves as replacements for the old order. Few of them will be wholesome, yet all will carry at least a grain of truth. How do we maintain sanity in the maelstrom?
The Covid era was a foretaste of what is to come. The pandemic madness may be over, but none of the social or political conditions that fostered it have changed. I do not think we will face another pandemic, much as some would like to use that possibility to keep us on a war footing. No, some other flavor of madness will take root in the fertile ground of society’s phobias, divisions, and unhealed traumas. We need to be ready for it. We have learned a lot over the past few years: what is courage, what is madness, how the mob forms, how it is manipulated, what powers are at work behind the scenes, who is vulnerable to them and who is not. We now have the opportunity to apply this learning to stay sane and hold sanity for others.
This speech inaugurates the preparation for a new program I will announce in a month or so, called the Sanity Project. As I say in the speech, staying sane isn’t simply about hearing correct information or having correct opinions. Ultimately, it is about restoring relationships. A disconnected person goes mad. The reality of human and non-human others becomes theoretical. Stories about others replace direct experience of others. Sanity is a group project.
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