Sensemaking

Over the years I’ve often thought about the concept of sensemaking, the action or process of making sense of or giving meaning to something, especially new developments and experiences. sensemaking | Search Results

It is increasingly difficult to make sense of all that is going on today. All the bad things I had anticipated for the future are suddenly happening now. And things I never imagined, like the assaults on truth and science, come at a time when they are desperately needed.

sensemaking–the action or process of making sense of or giving meaning to something, especially new developments and experiences.

At the collective level, a loss of sensemaking erodes shared cultural and value structures and renders us incapable of generating the collective wisdom necessary to solve complex societal problems like those described above. When that happens the centre cannot hold.

Threats to sensemaking are manifold. Among the most readily observable sources are the excesses of identity politics, the rapid polarisation of the long-running culture war, the steep and widespread decline in trust in mainstream media and other public institutions, and the rise of mass disinformation technologies, e.g. fake news working in tandem with social media algorithms designed to hijack our limbic systems and erode our cognitive capacities. If these things can confound and divide us both within and between cultures, then we have little hope of generating the coherent dialogue, let alone the collective resolve, that is required to overcome the formidable global-scale problems converging before us.

Pontoon Archipelago or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Collapse. By James Allen, originally published by Medium
June 18, 2019

Celebrants have an important part to play in the legacy humanity caries into the future. I suggest that our responsibility as ceremonialists, as humans who help other humans meaningfully connect with the web of life, is to find ways now to help people connect with the story of this world’s beauty, even as the world we love recedes. I believe there is a gift we can bring to our communities, to help people learn the art of losing. To help us all to meet the rising tides.

Celebrants & Ceremony in Response to Climate Grieving, Dina Stander, July 26, 2019

I believe faith communities need to play a crucial role in helping us move through the oncoming, increasingly severe chaos. Faith can provide sensemaking for those who have no framework for making sense of our broken systems.

People of faith can be celebrants. Indigenous peoples are celebrants. Their cultures are based upon a timeless connection to Mother Earth and everything that is part of Her/us.


The problems before us are emergent phenomena with a life of their own, and the causes requiring treatment are obscure. They are what systems scientists call wicked problems: problems that harbour so many complex non-linear interdependencies that they not only seem impossible to understand and solve, but tend to resist our attempts to do so. For such wicked problems, our conventional toolkits — advocacy, activism, conscientious consumerism, and ballot casting — are grossly inadequate and their primary utility may be the self-soothing effect it has on the well-meaning souls who use them.

If we are to find a new kind of good life amid the catastrophes these myths have spawned, then we need to radically rethink the stories we tell ourselves. We need to dig deep into old stories and reveal their wisdom, as well as lovingly nurture the emergence of new stories into being.

Pontoon Archipelago or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Collapse. By James Allen, originally published by Medium
June 18, 2019

How do we rethink the stories we tell ourselves? We need to let go of the stories we have discovered to be untrue. Learn about, and embrace stories of other cultures that are true. People of faith need to seek, and really listed for, Spiritual guidance. And actually implement that guidance.

One idea is to share stories from earlier times. “We need to dig deep into old stories and reveal their wisdom.” The Quaker Stories Project is an example. https://quakerstories.wordpress.com/

To re-think those stories. To consider what they say about our world today. To see if they represent something we have lost. Something it might be good to return to.

Seeking out new people and experiences are ways we can create new stories. For more than a year I have been learning new stories from my friends in the Mutual Aid community. We have been learning, together, how to live and work together in ways without a vertical hierarchy. Where decisions no longer come from leaders who try to wield power without consent. As my friend Ronnie James, who is my Mutual Aid mentor says:

I’m of the firm opinion that a system that was built by stolen bodies on stolen land for the benefit of a few is a system that is not repairable. It is operating as designed, and small changes (which are the result of huge efforts) to lessen the blow on those it was not designed for are merely half measures that can’t ever fully succeed.

So the question is now, where do we go from here? Do we continue to make incremental changes while the wealthy hoard more wealth and the climate crisis deepens, or do we do something drastic that has never been done before? Can we envision and create a world where a class war from above isn’t a reality anymore?”

Ronnie James

It all comes down to what type of ancestor I want to be for my descendants. Do I want to be a regular nobody that did nothing to protect our planet or do I want to be like Crazy Horse who fought and died for the little bit of land that we have left to protect? We have that chance right now to make that decision. This kind of resistance runs through all of our blood because we are the Indigenous Peoples of these lands. It’s at vital choice for the survival of humankind.

What Kind of Ancestor Do you Want to Be? Why I Fight the KXL by TaSina Sapa Win, February 28, 2019

This entry was posted in #NDAPL, climate change, decolonize, Indigenous, Native Americans, Seeding Sovereignty, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

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