4 jem bendell quote


Glastonbury Oracle, March 2020

​Last month I wrote about community resilience in practical terms, but faced with massive challenges as the result of a profound climate and ecological emergency, there is also emotional and psychological resilience to be considered. People find it much more difficult to approach this; we’ve been brought up to feel more comfortable ‘doing something about it’. This is important, but so is taking steps to keep ourselves and each other sane amidst the rising tide of madness.

The truth is, ‘doing something’ was needed decades ago. Now we can hope to mitigate the situation to some degree, but the likelihood of massive disruption and collapse of society as we know it is already here. Some people call this ‘doom mongering’, some call it realistic. Either way, the fear and confusion is already with us – and growing.

Deep Adaptation is a creative response, developed by Professor Jem Bendell of Cumbria University – initially in a paper published in 2018. His conclusions are that societal collapse is now inevitable and not very far away, and that attempts to ‘adapt’ through such things as flood prevention schemes or carbon sequestering can do no more than reduce the effects marginally. Facing up to this, ‘staring into the abyss’, is the first important step.

Those who take Jem Bendell’s ideas to heart often begin to live their lives more authentically. If we consider how we would want to spend our time if that time is limited, it can bring what is really important into focus. In January 2019 he followed the paper with a lengthy blog post, ‘Hope and Vision in the Face of Collapse’. The shift in his thinking was noticeable. Reconciliation was added to the key points of the Deep Adaptation map, and he introduced the concept of ‘radical hope’ – that we could, possibly, get through to the other side of this crisis and take part in creating a new society with radically different values.

What excites me is that at last a mainstream academic is saying such things; and now he is hanging out with Extinction Rebellion activists, taking an active interest in Buddhism, and prominently using the word ‘love’ in his writing. Something important has clearly happened for him.

Briefly, his ‘map’ is based on ‘Four Rs’: Resilience, How do we keep what we really want to keep? Relinquishment, What do we need to let go of in order to not make matters worse? Restoration, What can we bring back to help us with the coming difficulties and tragedies?  Reconciliation, What could we make peace with to lessen the suffering?

We don’t know exactly what will happen or when, and we don’t have the power to control it. What we can do is start to have this conversation, the ‘what if this might actually be true’ conversation. To this end, a group called ‘Changing Times’ has been established in Glastonbury, and a smaller group based in Bruton has begun running ‘Exploration Days’ in the area. Contact details below.

This short YouTube video is a useful introduction:
2018 paper – ‘Deep Adaptation: a map for navigating climate tragedy’:
‘Hope and Vision in the Face of Collapse’: https://jembendell.com/2019/01/09/hope-and-vision-in-the-face-of-collapse-the-4th-r-of-deep-adaptation/
‘Changing Times’:  Jackie and Mario Crovetto, post@myphone.coop
Nick Osborne and Justine Corrie (Bruton): justine@justinecorrie.com