Unity through dystopia: A framework for living in challenging times

1 January 2022

By Elizabeth Harrop

As we enter 2022, humanity is in crisis. Numbed by consumerism and disconnection from nature; facing the existential threats caused by climate change and COVID-19; and becoming increasingly polarised; humanity seems beached in the shallows.

But we need not stay there.

We can create unity through this unfolding dystopia and make space for people to open their hearts to a new way of being. In this we honour our differences and our uniqueness; caretake the natural world and each other; and speak from the heart instead of from media-constructed archetypes.

I have created a Unity in Dystopia Framework as a starting point to help illustrate practical steps and ways of being we might draw upon. You can find the details below and download a PDF of the framework here.

  1. Simplify life and slow down: Then all we need is less in number and complexity, and more immediate and present. This gives spaciousness to slow down, and truly appreciate the fewer things and people we have in our lives, creates room for inspiration and joy, and time to connect with our hearts and the natural world. We use less and obtain more locally, so reducing our impact.
  2. Appreciate our interconnectedness: Connecting to our common humanity through gestures of friendship, giving, open hearted communication and community; the rich web that weaves humanity in among nature and the wider universe; a sense of expansiveness or soul.
  3. Have nature as a friend: Developing a friendship with the natural world; standing in appreciation of it; our relationships with animals, plants and landscapes; what they can say to us, how they can open our hearts and keep us refreshed, present and balanced. From this place we can do no harm.
  4. Find and be true to the authentic self: Finding our inner friend. Honouring our true individual selves through connection to our hearts, and removing any filters of “should” and the expectations of others. Only we can decide how to express who we truly are, and what decisions are therefore appropriate for us; and only we can tune into that at our core. Putting boundaries around unhealthy relationships – personal or institutional.
  5. See ourselves in fellow human beings: Rejecting and ignoring the polarising boxes that society and the media wishes to put people in. Finding what we have in common with our fellow human beings such as a desire for safety which may express itself in conflicting ways. Softening our hearts towards each other and our predicament as a result.
  6. The freedom that is our inner world: However tumultuous the external world, we can choose to witness it, and act accordingly, but not become enmeshed in its multiple dramas and traumas. Instead we find our stability from a deep and consistent connection to ourselves.
  7. The joy of being alive: Giving creative expression to being alive at this time in history. The marvel of it. Relishing in the human form through movement, poetry, art, writing, food, nature, friendship and community.
  8. Know what is yours to do: The world needs lawyers, campaigners, and activists, but there are many valuable roles beyond policy changemakers, such as wise elders, those creating closer communities, and those who care for each other and the earth. Ask yourself what is yours to care about, and therefore yours to do, and release guilt for not doing it all. Lean into that calling, however modest, and see what beckons.


Liberty & Humanity