Hello and welcome to our Winter edition of Northern Edge. We have spent much of this season hibernating from the cold, restoring and replenishing ourselves in readiness for the busy months ahead. In the same way, our tree and plant cuttings are able to take root over this dormant part of the year and establish a strong foundation for future growth. I was amazed last year at how many of those blackcurrant, gooseberry and quince tree cuttings that I took had managed to root in a substantial way by the time Spring came round. It seems that the winds, rain and cold they were exposed to only aided them in generating their resilience. Perhaps this is a useful metaphor for our times…
It is increasingly evident that dealing with uncertainty is something we will be required to do and remain accustomed to, with ongoing strikes, financial hardship and the continued decline of the dominant system we have known. It may however be worth taking stock of our ability to respond to such turmoil.
If we explore the word ‘Responsibility’ itself, many thinkers and writers have contemplated the term from a framework of being able to respond, ‘Response-Ability’ if you like. One writer suggests the following:
.. response-ability in its most succinct iteration, is an ability to respond to the world beyond oneself, as well as a willingness to recognise it’s existence.
This paper goes on to explain that this is not something we choose to do, rather it is something that is intrinsic to being a living human being in relationship with the world around us. We can of course pay attention to how we are in relationship with the life forms around us and what values, attitudes, integrity we are holding within this dynamic exchange. As the dominant system in which we have been functioning is failing, which relational bonds that we create will move us beyond this time of challenge?
In facing the inevitability of an ongoing ‘economic winter’ as Angus suggested in our Autumn editorial, it may give us hope to reflect on how we can strengthen the reciprocity of our connections with all that we engage and interact with. We can share any material surpluses that we have with our friends and communities, offer our skills, visions for the future, or even slow down and preserve our energies when we need to - as Bill Mollison reminds us.
Our current global system, including the individuals that we may encounter who either consciously or unconsciously seek to exploit others, must not be indulged. The more we can avoid enabling the structures and the people that exploit us, the better our lives will be. Our energies are precious and so are our endeavours, therefore we must hold them as sacred and invest wisely in connections that offer the promise and potential of true growth, fulfilment and mutual nourishment. Such growth, does not seek to take, dominate, abuse or control - instead, it holds life in reverence and wonders how best to contribute and interact with a world that is regenerating, blooming and moving towards health. As suggested in the quote earlier, our strength lies in our ability to recognise the real and living nature of the world of which we are a necessary part.