Apollo 13’s infamous understatement, but I love that line. I remembered watching those astronauts going up, and along with my schoolmates holding my breath hoping they would get back down. After their immediate shift in reality they needed to work what with they had creatively and fast, or die in space.
I received an email about my post ‘Take back the hood…’ saying I may have been flippant to those suffering from our current financial crisis. I want to apologize to those who took offense, and want to try and further explain myself when I said there was no financial crisis.
In that spacecraft four decades ago those three astronauts took off with a certain goal in mind – landing on the moon. At the time they would have been part of an elite few who had trained hard enough and given over much of their lives for that purpose. On the way though something went very wrong. They needed to let go of that original goal and re-focus fast.
Apollo 13 crew before the launch
The new goal was to re-enter the atmosphere alive and get back to their friends and family – something many of us take for granted and do every day. We all don’t need to hurl through space to do it, but when times get tougher we hold that thought foremost in our minds. The simple things in life become more cherished when our health or finances change the status quo.
Our lives now have been threatened by a failed system much like those astronauts. We need to change the goal. Whatever our previous goal was when we thought the growth economy was the answer to all of our dreams, but was actually the long introduction into the world’s current nightmare, needs to be re-thought.
If we envision ourselves as the astronauts focusing on the difficult course of action to be taken, life takes on a great feeling of adventure where we take back control of our future and present situation.
The paradigm has shifted. There is no way back to the old ways of doing things without more major damage being done. The astronauts, if they had kept their focus on a moon walk, might have succeeded but to their own demise because achieving both that and getting home wasn’t feasible in the damaged craft they were now in.
The word crisis implies there is a short-term ending in sight, the constant use of the word gives it a certain power as it disables and leaves us powerless waiting for it to be over. But what if we looked at it in another way? Not an ongoing crisis, but a shift that has already happened waiting for us to act accordingly.
What I was trying to put across then and now is that there is light at the end of the tunnel. When we look to the politicians and economic wizards that got us into the mess for the answers, I believe that is the folly.
What we have is a new paradigm. If we hold onto hopes of tiny percentage points of recovery in unemployment figures or a rise in house prices to lead us out of the feelings of frustration or other real-life problems such as, joblessness, foreclosures, hunger or worse, I think that is working against our own recovery.
If we feel empowered by how and where we spend our money, by the places we live or the people we share our community with I feel that is a lot more realistic and gives us hope for the future. The old way of doing business enriched a small percentage of the population, gave a large percentage of us the illusion all was well, but simultaneously it handed us an environmentally ravaged world, wars raging in too many different countries, political unrest, and populations teetering on the edge of starvation and financial ruin.
I feel we need to look at things in a different light.
We have the power, we have the resources, and no politician unless totally free from corporate interest can make the tough choices to take us into a new way of seeing economy, employment, and the real nurturing of the world’s people.
The astronauts weren’t about to sit around and wait for a statistician sitting in some office to tell them their odds of survival. No they got pro-active, worked with what they had, re-jigged their high-tech craft swirling in black space and got the job done against major odds and came out the other side of it knowing what can be done. Yes they had help, the engineers that helped build the craft were being pro-active and acting altruistically trying to save those three men’s lives. Today’s bankers and politicians don’t seem to have that same altruistic aura about them.
Well we’re the astronauts. No one is exactly handing us the instructions to survive the disaster some of us find ourselves in, but the tools are there all around us. When we accept our situation and stop waiting for the cures to come from above then we will blossom like flowers in spring. Crisis will turn into transition, and life will get better.
We’re all in this mess together. When the powerful economies of the West sort out their wants from their needs, and live more in balance, then the developing countries – who have always been either our endless warehouse of cheap labor and goods, or the dumping grounds for our poisons – may start breathing a deep sigh of relief – as well as the rest of us.
My inner being is warmed when I hear stories of those taking back their power. When communities in the worst-affected countries show their resilience and ignore the misery they’re supposed be in by staying positive, and creatively finding their way in the new paradigm. Once the path is found to that place it will be hard to think of any other way of existing.
“Houston we had a problem!”