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Steering Through The Storm

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  • #1425

    At a recent Forum event one of the first-time participants noted that at the top of each page of the three selected short readings were the words “Steering Through Chaos”.

    As storm Doris currently hurls herself at the UK, we see the mechanisms in place for alerting us to potential danger from storms, and I’m reminded of the various city, national and regional contingency plans for disruption to transport routes and power supplies. Wet and windy storms are to be expected in this part of the world, and are to be prepared against – at national, regional, and a personal level. We each of us have our plans and ideas about what we want to do today and tomorrow – or perhaps what our boss tells us we have to do – and then we ask ourselves how we can achieve that *despite* the storm.

    Walking home in the evening, buffeted by winds and stepping over the twigs, leaves, and branches strewn across the ground, we are under no illusion as to the reality of the storm or its power – and are perhaps thankful not to be in areas worse affected. What we *don’t* do is ignore the reality of the storm and act as though the sun is pleasantly shining and all is well. What we *don’t* do is see the storm, tell ourselves that this is “the way the world really is,” and allow ourselves to be blown off course, tossed about by the wind, or expose ourselves unnecessarily to a soaking to the skin and generally submit to the authority of the storm. Instead, we accept the situation but without abnegating our agency, our will, our choice, our actions. We might accept some situational limitations, but we fight through the storm for what we want (getting home for a hot cuppa’).

    Another participant said of one sphere of his life, he had realised that “we don’t have to do anything unless we decide to ourselves.” This is true. Yet why, then, do I not live this out? Why do I allow the “storm” to blow me around and dictate my behaviour, my attitudes? Be that the prevailing social winds, or the (minor, thank God, in my case) ‘buffeting winds of life’? Why do I hand over my ability to choose and act – that which Vaclav Havel calls “being human” – why do I hand this over to the storm?

    Organisations, agencies, governance and good neighbours help alert us to the potential dangers of a large storm such as Doris. What are the mechanisms that you have, which alert you to when there are things going on around which are … stormy, or dangerous, or downright wrong? But that alert you without suggesting you bow to the authority of the storm, instead prompting you to steer your way despite the storm?

    At the end of the day, I have to choose what to do. I can listen to the metaphorical Met Offices of this world, and read the metaphorical “Personal Resilience Planning Guides” of this world, but I have to decide what I do. And I can only put in place adequate contingency plans and adapt for myself generic suggested responses to the ‘storm’ if I know where I am headed, and if I know that although the storm is very real, it is not all that there is. So I pay attention to the storm, listen to the warnings, then I decide where and how I steer through the storm.

    But that doesn’t mean it’s not tough weathering the storm. And that doesn’t mean it’s not simpler to often follow without much adaptation the plans others have drawn up.


    Thank you for a stimulating and well-written post! So true!

    Let me respond by the following:

    The word “sloth” starting referring in the 17th century to a cuddly animal.

    However, earlier, the word “sloth” referred to a profoundly deep evil whose effect is to make human beings indifferent to exerting themselves towards God or towards what is good. In fact, at the very first, surprisingly, the word referred to monks who for some reason or other became indifferent to their duties and obligations to God and therefore also to human beings.

    Today, we would say that the physical dimension of sloth results in laziness, while the psychological dimension of sloth results in lack of any strong or motivating emotion about oneself or about others, leading to passivity, to boredom, to apathy.

    By that sort of definition, many modern human beings may be physically totally anti-slothful – but, psychologically and spiritually, is it not the case that many more modern human beings range are worryingly slothful?

    Even in the face of political, economic, social, legal or technological storms!

    I seem to recollect that one of the Renaissance Forum readings is on that subject?

    Anyway, thanks again.

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