When Jonathan Porritt blogged yesterday that David Cameron was not attending the Rio+20 talks but Unilever and Aviva were, he saw it as “a sign of our unsustainable times.”
I see it as something different — the beginning of a new era.
There is something in these summits that contains the dynamic of the parent/child relationship. The ‘parents’ are having a dinner party. The ‘children’ come downstairs and tell them that they are scared because their rooms are falling apart or there is a monster under the bed. The ‘parents’ smile sweetly and explain that everything is alright, and they are talking with the other grown-ups, so please can the children go back to bed.
Over time, the ‘children’ have developed more dramatic ways of attracting their parents’ attention (see right).
And the ‘parents’ have learned new ways to tell the ‘children’ that they can stay up later next time if they are good.
But over 20+ years, the underlying dynamic in the relationship has not changed.
We know that change only happens when the system requires it for its own survival. So we shouldn’t expect the G20 to change their behaviour any time soon. (Though there may be individuals within the group who would like it to change.)
Like neglected children, we need to realise that our ‘parents’ simply are not going to take care of us like we thought they would.
That realisation is never easy. Growing up requires inner growth and new outer behaviours. But it is our only hope. Develop or die.
If we take that route we will find ourselves in a new era: one where we can justifiably pity the ‘parents’ who did not take their responsibilities seriously.
And the good news is, as Unilever and Aviva have shown, there are others in the world who are already beginning to do so.