We are all leaders. If we want to be a leader in the area of social change, we need to appreciate that learning leadership skills alone will not be enough to make a positive impact. If you want to be a leader of change that has a positive social impact, pause and put the books down, clear the busy diary and make space to look first of all at your ‘Soul Compass’.
Our economic activity has taken the soul out of nature, our society and increasingly out of ourselves. As a result, the way we live has become environmentally, socially, and psychologically unsustainable. To create a more sustainable future, we need a new economy which puts the soul back into nature, society and ourselves. Whilst this will require far reaching changes, this article provides some examples of what is already happening. These examples give us a glimpse of a sustainable future, what could be at the end of the tunnel, if we have new leadership right across our society. We are all leaders and, together, we can create a better future.
Our society is environmentally, economically and psychologically unsustainable. We are already living beyond the means of our planet, we have high levels of inequality, and we are increasingly suffering from mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety. As our society is created by the collective decisions of leaders this means our current leadership must also be unsustainable. The leaders who have the most influence on our society are those in politics, corporations and civil service. Yet our society is made up of each of us. Our actions, ideas, and words can all provide leadership. We all have the opportunity to develop ourselves, and hence our society, in a way that sustains us and our planet.
Environmentally, socially and psychologically our society is unsustainable. If consumption continues to increase at current rates, by 2050 we will need 3 Earths to sustain us (United Nations, 2015). Socially, income inequality is at the highest level in 50 years in OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) countries. Psychologically, according to the latest (2015) figures from the World Health Organisation, 615 million people were suffering from depression or anxiety across the world. We are destroying our planet, allowing the rich to get richer and the poor poorer, and in doing so we are suffering more and more depression. Our society is created by the collective decisions of leaders. If society is unsustainable our current leadership is unsustainable. We need leaders who can stop the downward spiral, reverse the damage done to society and build a sustainable future.
Soul is often defined as the spiritual or immaterial part of a human being or animal. This definition is not without its critics, as it arbitrarily stops at animals. What about plants and trees? Do they have souls? Indeed, it could be argued that plants and trees have some form of consciousness. It has recently been found that plants and trees send nutrients and signal to each other through underground fungal networks. If they are able to communicate and live co-operatively together, then why are we excluding them from having a soul? Why stop there? What about the whole of nature having a soul?