This is a name for my big Why. And it is a pretty big one! It’s the reason I want people doing good things to be able to get their messages across well – because it all builds into a tapestry that benefits everybody.
It’s a thing that’s been lurking in my mind since the early 1990s. We were talking, then, about ‘sustainable development’ – which, with its definitions, was a perfectly reasonable way of talking about the thing, but it quickly became clear that it was too abstract and academic too get traction easily with the general public.
A lot of people put a lot of effort into giving it traction, and it got altered to the slightly friendlier ‘sustainability’, and there was some success but it didn’t really stick. I occasionally talked about not getting hung up on it, and treating it as just ‘doing things right, in a joined-up way’. It clearly involved more than collecting a bunch of environment and development issues under an umbrella.
Fast forward to 2014, and I’m writing my book Crowd/Control. It’s clear that cultural forces are leading us into making the world worse, and we stand at a point where we have to choose. I needed a label to use in passing for the alternative of working together in pursuit of higher values, and ‘the upward path’ came out.
Later, that stuck with me. I realised it was a simple and powerful metaphor that fit with ideas I already had, for instance about the nature of skills. Since then I’ve referred to my idea of unity more and more often by that title. It’s kind of become ingrained, to the extent of occasional speedbumps when I’ve used it with people who don’t know what it is!
So what is it?
This is about the big picture.
It’s about the journey toward a happier, fuller, fairer world.
It’s about remembering that’s what we want, and turning our steps in that direction.
This site holds ideas and articles around the intersection of social change, psychology, personal development, communication and being human in the 21st century.
Upward and downward
This is a time when we are called to make choices. Old stories of the world are breaking down. Facing our own psychology to build better ones is the challenge of the 21st century.
Climate, injustice, economy, ecosystems, work, wellbeing… The big issues confronting us are joined together and their roots are inside us.
We can choose the shared endeavour of compassionate aspiration. But our own thinking and voices in society lure us toward the fog and brambles of the downward path. They come from fear, and speak to the fears inside us.
The world needs us to say, ‘Enough. Whatever I can contribute, I will use it to take a step upward.’
Why a path?
Like learning a skill, we walk it one step at a time. We don’t get all the way to the end in one go. We just have to keep going in the right direction.
Every so often we look around and the view has changed. We can see people up ahead of us, and people back where we’ve come from.
Often we feel like our own path in our corner of the world is separate from others. But they are parts of one tapestry seen from different angles.
- Clean your windows. Switch the lights on in your worldview. Reconnect with what you value and what you want to see in the world. Tidy up your conditioning.
- Pack your gifts. All those skills, experiences and resources you’ve been growing – you’ll need to take them with you.
- Find your fellow travellers. Who will you walk with for a while? How can you work together and complement each other?
- Make a journey to be proud of. What can you do, with your vision and your gifts and your companions? Is it a good big thing, or a good small thing?
- Be a beacon. Value what you have learned and use it to help others find their way.