Who are the characters in the biggest story of our lifetime?
Updated: Feb 10
Today I’d like to invite you to come with me into the future – to the year 2030. We don’t have to pack a suitcase or book a flight. Which is just as well. Because we can’t get off this island. Our lives have been plagued by unbelievable events that have grounded us. More pandemics, torrential rain causing flash flooding, tsunamis and winds so ferocious the sea has battered coast lines all over the world. Fires are raging through forests, displacing people and animals. It’s like something out of a movie.
As we sit in our homes in 2030, we turn to our loved ones and wonder how it came to this. We remember sitting at home during the pandemic of 2020/21. And here we are again. But worse. Much worse. How did this happen? If it was a movie, or Scooby Doo, what are the
alternative options for how life might look and feel in 2030?
The endings will depend on the characters and the part they play in how the story unfolds. Can we make 2030 a life free from suffering and pain? Or will we aimlessly trundle towards a life less wonderful?
Time for some introductions...
Meet Rena. Rena loves power. She savours the feeling of being in control of what others say and do. She doesn’t like herself very much. However, her ‘evil’ streak is actually a result of childhood trauma. Her parents didn't know how to show her love. She was sent off to a boarding school and her parent’s would send her thoughtless gifts, the same thing every year.
With enough money going into her bank account that she could buy whatever she wanted. Her parents never spent any time with her, instead sending her to summer camp or away on extra curricular holidays. She didn’t know what fun was. She barely remembers her childhood and is very envious of people who know how to enjoy themselves. The only way she could feel valued was by over-achieving. And taking out her unresolved trauma on those around her. Does Rena need to be saved? Is she to be feared or friended?
Then there's Richard the Creator. Richard is a visionary. He creates something significant. Which doesn't always mean it's good. What he creates is of major benefit to Richard and a small number of his friends only. He’s a hoarder.
He doesn't care for the welfare of others. He is only concerned with his own highly inflated ego. Richard isn't a bad person, he is troubled. His selfishness and thoughtlessness is a result of a need to overachieve and an ingrained toxic masculinity that makes him incapable of compassion, which is seen as a feminine trait. But Richard, like Rena, isn't making these decisions consciously. This need for domination and financial success are also the side effects of a less than perfect childhood. For whatever reason, he just hasn't realised all of this yet. He lives his life coping as he knows how. Trudging through a foggy disused train tunnel. Will Richard ever be able to alight at a station that takes him away from the tunnel
Say hi to Mika. Mika goes through life not really thinking about anything much at all. She is financially rich and compassion poor. Her sense of community and empathy for others who are less fortunate is practically non-existent. Her main focus of attention is on her Instagram feed, her image and ‘drama’. She isn’t a bad person but her intentions don’t contribute to a better society. They don't necessarily make things any worse, but her over consumption, and lack of interest in the 'big picture' are misplaced. Mika was wrapped in cotton wool as a child. She didn't learn how to do anything for herself, and has never had to work for anything. Mika is naive. She lives in a bubble that's unaffected by anything external. An 'unburstable' bubble. Or is it?
Alex is a non-conformist, always doing what he’s always done. He has amassed a financial fortune, purely because of the family into which he was born. Like all of the others we have met so far, he simply cannot see the world in any other way than how the world is for him. Rich. Protected. Perfect. Materialistic. His financial fortune has been inherited and he, and everyone he works with, fails to see that the resources they use and abuse are not theirs to take. It belongs to the earth, and that is where is should stay. He has great power which has blinded him to seeing better solutions. Alex flies around the world in any one of his private jets whenever he wants, even during pandemics. He has numerous yachts and regularly escapes on the oceans of the world. Alex has never known any other way of life. Can he and his family ever give up his extreme lavish lifestyle? Why should he?
Finally, for this first instalment, we meet Joseph and Janine. Joseph and Janine have been
trundling through life accepting what ‘is’. They don't have the luxury of permanent employment, instead having zero hours contracts. So when they are lucky enough to be given some hours, they come home exhausted, make dinner, watch TV and go to bed. They love to shop, even though they don’t have a lot of money. Their favourite past time is to walk slowly around Tesco or ASDA, where they can be seen every week on one of the days when they are not working. They pick up frozen food and tins, processed meats and plastic wrapped ready meals. When they get to the checkout, they pick up several ‘Bags for Life’ to add to their gaggle of plastic bags at home that have set up camp in a cupboard under the stairs.
If there’s anything they can’t get in Tesco or ASDA, they log on to their an online marketplace and use the upgraded account that they were duped into paying for and can't actually afford. But the constant advertising makes them feel like a part of something for the 30 seconds the advert is playing. Their delivery arrives the very next day as if by magic. And they chat for a moment across the threshold to the exhausted looking delivery person. It gives them a sense of relief that they are not the only ones struggling.
Joseph and Janine are good people. But they have no interest in what happens beyond their front door or what they see on the ‘News’. They feel powerless because they’ve been made to feel that way by Rena and her band of not so merry men (and the odd woman). If Joseph and Janine could change things, what could they do? Would they have the courage to?
In the biggest story of our lifetime, if we want to change 2030, do we need these characters to go through a George Bailey style experience? A transformation or an awakening? Perhaps they need to be visited by the Ghosts of Extinctions Past? Or step inside a telephone box and emerge as a hero/heroine/'neutroine' in an upcycled outfit?
Ohhh, now there's a wonderful image. One we'll come back to. Thankfully, we already have many heroes/heroines/'neutroines' stepping up to the tectonic plate. And these are the characters that we have to thank for 2030 not being much much worse than the picture we painted at the start of our story - let us call it Scooby Doo ending version 2030.1.0. And it's these heroes/heroines/'neutroines' are who we will meet next time…
Until then, stay conscious planet people.