If you found your way here…
chances are you’re concerned about where business-as-usual is taking us.
And you know that, writ large, averting the worst of projected futures and achieving the best of what’s possible requires radical, immediate, and transformative change in key social systems.
And that there’s little sign of that happening any time soon.
And that, whether we somehow manage to take big action to turn things around or we stay the course, major transitions are on the horizon. So, either way, there’s plenty of good work to be done.
In countless forms and at every level, there are opportunities for each of us to apply our unique combination of knowledge, skills, interests, and experience. Nobody can do everything, but everybody can do something. It’s good to remember that our roles can change over time. Sometimes, it’s only with the benefit of hindsight that we can see what our part has been, or is.
Reflecting on the past 25 years as teacher and scholar in sociology and socio-environmental studies, I can spot some common threads running throughout my work. One is the motivation to increase understanding, especially by assembling relevant information into a meaningful whole that can be more readily conveyed. Another is to use that understanding to identify and address root causes of problems. My various attempts along these lines have consistently led to the same conclusion:
how we think is at the heart of so many of the troubles we humans create for ourselves and others.
As many times, I’ve also heard it said that there’s no time to waste on such matters, that we need “real” action, and fast, in the material world—on energy, soil, biodiversity, water, built infrastructure, social structures, and more. No argument there. But that’s not all we need. As with disease or injury, addressing its symptoms while neglecting its causes allows the problem to persist, and likely worsen.
Fortunately, a greater appreciation for the significance of “how we think,” broadly defined, seems to have taken hold. I’ve been encouraged to see a marked increase in attention to the need for paradigm shifts, new stories, changes in worldviews, values, and ways of being. It usually shows up in the form of calls to action issued at the end of a talk or written piece. As powerful closing lines, they pack a punch but offer little in the way of details on the what or how.
Such matters are where I begin.
The underlying premise of my work is that at the root of our troubles is a fundamental confusion about who and what we are in the world with others.
Ultimately, our ability to more effectively guide socio-environmental change in the directions needed and desired, to move away from disaster and toward something better, depends on an accurate understanding of ourselves and the reality we occupy.
In ways both direct and indirect, my aim is to contribute to our becoming un-confused.
“Getting to Know Reality” features bits and pieces of my efforts in this direction. They are meant to serve as a complement to the countless and varied other endeavors underway.
Because the subject of “who and what we are in the world with others” involves all aspects of the human condition, I range widely and freely across scientific, academic, literary, spiritual, personal, societal, and other diverse territory to gather what’s needed at any given time.
This is only a small part of the work that needs doing. But it’s a crucial part, and one I am compelled and equipped to play.
If you too are interested in matters of the mind, in befriending reality, in the long game, or in exploring how such things might connect with your own activities, join me here.