What did you do...?

Stag: iPhone

Stag: iPhone

“it’s 3:23 in the morning

and I’m awake

because my great great grandchildren

won’t let me sleep”

(Drew Dellinger)

As I drove through the spectacular autumn woods near @Ashridge_Biz earlier this week, a beautiful stag crossed the road in front of my car. I stopped for a moment to soak up the scene as the stag paused and glanced towards me before before gently going on his way. It looked like he was carrying a painful lameness…

Later that day I checked into a hotel in Windsor to meet a group of friends. We were to consider how we could support each other in developing significant work during this time of rapid ecological and social change. My iPhone image shows the driftwood sculpture at the front of the hotel; a haunting, ghostly representation of the stag caught in stark artificial lights.

As we closed our first day, I was moved to read Drew Dellinger’s poem, ‘Hieroglyphic Stairway’, which I have loved since @Paulettya brought it to one of our #EDOC doctoral supervision conversations. After the opening lines above, it continues:

“my great great grandchildren

ask me in dreams

what did you do while the planet was plundered?

what did you do when the earth was unravelling?”

I can’t imagine that I will ever meet my great great grandchildren but I notice, more and more, my intention to achieve worthwhile, generative change on their behalf. This week, my media feeds have featured daily accounts of potentially apocalyptic news. Among them, nearly 100 senior academics wrote to the UK Government demanding robust emergency action in respect of the worsening ecological crisis, it is becoming clear that global carbon emissions will reach a new record this year and we are seeing early signs that we are now routinely ingesting plastic. In the face of failing political conversations which are little more than polarised name-calling, it’s clear to me that our ideas about change must shift. We should stop relying on figurehead leaders and politicians.

We need to turn our ideas around. We must all lead.

Drew’s poem confronts us:

“surely you did something

when the seasons started failing?

as the mammals, reptiles, birds were all dying?

did you fill the streets with protest when democracy was stolen?

what did you do

once you knew?”

So, as our small group gathered to express our values, discover our shared identity and purpose, educate each other in our individual skills and capabilities, and define our collective leadership offer to the world, I have a simple request.

Do it too. For all of our great, great grandchildren.

Start a dialogue, find your tribe, make connections, change the conversation, create a shared future that we can all value.

We will be right alongside you.


Read the rest of Drew Dellinger’s ‘Hieroglyphic Stairway’ via this link - and his book, ‘Love Letter to the Milky Way’, might change your life.

Have a look at the UN report that says ‘only the remaking of the human world in a generation can now prevent serious, far reaching and once-avoidable climate change impacts.’

If you think doctoral inquiry into how we can constructively shift our thinking about change might be your thing, either drop me a note or check out #EDOC at @Ashridge_Biz.

Finally, have a look at Anne Lamott (via @brainpicker) on love, despair and our capacity for change.,

Steve Marshall4 Comments