I recently moved to the south-west and would like to get together with other people who share my passion for living the best life I can as an individual whilst also making a wider contribution to society. The intention is that this will be a group for people interested in getting together to discuss all aspects of life and society. To together do our best to understand the opportunities available to us individually and collectively as well as the limiting, mistaken and often damaging assumptions underlying some of the thinking, institutions and ways of life based on the past; to consider what is and what isn't working so well in the present and explore what might be natural, practical and desirable ways forward for the 21st Century.
My hope is for this to be a group for people who are committed to finding those better ways forward not just as an academic or intellectual exercise but who are willing to put them into practice, as best we can, beginning with ourselves.
I believe that to find ways forward with real promise, it is necessary to be at least willing to go back to first principles, to re-assess values and methods, to learn from conventional wisdom but not to be limited by it. To not care about where an idea originated or who gets the credit but to work together to co-create the greatest shared understanding and best opportunities that we can.
I'm also sure that this will be hugely exciting, challenging, rewarding and fulfilling; a way to get to know each other and to each grow personally at the same time.
I envisage that we could have a variety of different formats, but maybe a good starting point could be to take examples of past figures who inspire us, discuss the aspects of their thinking, example or life's work that appeal to us most and suggest how these examples may help to show the way forward in future. Personal examples who come to mind could be William Morris (designer, writer & social reformer), Richard Feynman (scientist), G K Chesterton (christian, writer and poet), Henry David Thoreau (philosopher, naturalist and tax resister), Abraham Lincoln (US president), Joseph Campbell (mythologist), Ursula le Guin (writer and [post?]feminist), Kahlil Gibran (poet/philosopher), Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (writer, statesman and polymath) etc etc etc
Another strand could be to look at emerging opportunities and trends which we could learn from, take advantage of and support, for instance in the worlds of education, personal growth, politics, social networking, and sustainable development. Some of the questions we can ask ourselves as individuals and/or collectively might include: what should it be like to be a responsible citizen of the future (locally, nationally and globally)? how can we create rituals, mythologies and belief systems that retain the practical age-old wisdom of traditional religions and spiritual paths whilst discarding superstition and embracing scientific understanding? supportive communities that transcend alienation and selfishness and embrace connection and true meaning? what does the world still have to learn from buddhism, Marx, and Jesus and other great teachers of the past? how do we want our children to grow up and what do we want them to value? what sort of world do we want to pass on to them? how can art, music, craft and dance all best help to add meaning and value to everyday life? what role do poetry, story and mythology play in supporting both practical teaching and also an appreciation of the numinous and transcendent? what DOES it mean to live the good life? a good life? in what ways can we create a richness of life as individuals and as communities? what will families look like in future? how will sexual expression unfold and what role will it play? how will relationships work? what will be the role of the state? of local government? how will we replace the 'hole' in western culture that was left when the bulk of society threw out the religion-based ethical social and personal framework of the past with the 'unscientific' bathwater? how do we move past the justification of greed through Adam Smith's 'invisible hand' and of possessive competition through Darwin's 'survival of the fittest'? what are the impacts of process and holistic system thinking on our worldview and self identity? what will our concepts of personal growth and mental health look like in the future? how will a lower consumption economy work? how can the UK best support itself sustainably in terms of food? energy? what will buildings and communities of the future look like? transport systems? what can and should we do as individuals? as parents? as models of better ways forward? as responsible entrepreneurs? as social pioneers?
Whether you would like to bring and express specific experience and expertise as a teacher, writer, freethinker, activist, artist, farmer, musician, poet, dancer, philosopher, designer, architect, political thinker, historian, sociologist, therapist, academic, business person, lawyer, scientist, economist, ecologist, adventurer, world traveller etc, or whether you see yourself more generally as a concerned parent, a conscientious citizen or a creative individual, I'd love to hear from you and have you join the group. I'm very open to ideas and would love to be able to get a group like this off the ground. If you're at all interested please get in touch and let's see what we can come up with together.