Read the remarks made by our Programs Director, Briggs Bomba, at the 2022 Wellbeing Summit where we spoke as part of the first cohort in the Pioneer Program. His remarks detail the global moment we are in and the fatigue it brings; the different type of leadership (visionary and future-focused) needed to navigate theses turbulent times; and the self-healing needed for the long-haul work which can be found as we integrate wellbeing practices in our activism for sustained people power.
Remarks by Briggs Bomba at the Wellbeing Summit, Bilbao, Spain on 31 May 2022
Centering Wellbeing at this Turning Point in History
I would like to share with you reflections on Wellbeing at this Time; by touching on three things:
Looking outside. Looking inside. And creating a better world.
These have been the three most notable movements in my own Wellbeing journey as a social justice activist and leader.
My reflections today are inspired by the wise words of a guru who said:
“The one who looks outside, dreams” And “The one who looks inside, awakens”
Looking outside is about the context we are leaving in. It is about observing the Outer at this time. It is about looking at the clock of history and knowing what time it is. And the demands of the time.
We are called upon today; more earnestly; than at any other time for this generation, to lift our gaze, look around us and observe the Outer and see and understand our historical task at this time. If we were to look around and carefully observe developments in the world around us today, we will see that we are at a truly historic juncture in world history and our task as social change leaders has never been more important.
But don’t take my word for it. Us activists have sometimes been accused of hyperbole in framing every moment as key.
Instead, let me bring in the voices of world leaders from the just ended World Economic Forum in Davos and other recent statements:
The official summary of proceedings from the just ended Davos was packaged as:
- “History at a Turning Point” - Davos
- “We are on a precipice” – John Kerry
- Someone spoke of the crisis “inducing a sense of a new kind of world that we want to create”
- According to Joe Biden, “the world stands at an inflection point in history”. He goes further to say “We are in the midst of a fundamental debate about the future and direction of our world”.
- Henry Kissinger at 99 has is talking about “a new era”
- There is talk everywhere, by the most prominent people of “a new world order”, including the leaders of big and ascending powers. This used to be the language of conspiracy theorists.
And it is no longer about building backwards:
- “None of us are coming out of the pandemic assuming we are going back to 2019. We have to find a new way going forward” - Satya Nadella, the Executive Chairman and CEO of Microsoft
In a sense, we are witnessing an unprecedented fracturing of our outer world.
Indeed, it is no exaggeration to say that the social, economic and political foundations of our world are in peril.
The task to build a new better world beckons.
The question is what has the process that has taken our outer world to this point of peril done to us inside? We must dare ask the question.
I have learnt as an activist in my own national context of Zimbabwe, that protracted– unresolved crises fester, like a wound - into a breakdown of the very social fabric of society. The breakdown of trust and social cohesion. The breakdown of solidarity, without which institutions can’t deliver.
I have learnt that deep-seated unresolved injustices all the way from colonialism create trauma that persists across generations resulting in wounded leadership, even among activists and social change leaders. I have learnt that this woundedness creates a vortex that turns “victims into perpetrators” and limit our ability to create a better world. And it’s vicious loop.
Looking Inside and Creating a better world.
We must look inside if we are to lead from a different place, and to a different place.
Otto Schammer says our efforts to deal with the challenges of our time often fail because “we are blind to the deeper dimensions of leadership and transformational change.”
The wellbeing process has been my own personal movement towards what Otto Schammer calls, “the source dimensions from which effective leadership and social action come into being”.
There is so much we are not tapping into by just looking outside and staying in our brain.
I believe that the task before us to help define our next chapter as humanity requires that we appreciate as Bill O’Brien says “the success of the intervention depends on the interior condition of the intervenor”
The wellbeing process has taught me that we do better as social change leaders if we can tap into our wholeness as human beings and draw from dimensions beyond the limits of our intellect.
For example, our ancestors already knew how to deal with some of the problems we can’t solve today. And all we need to do is just remember. Re-member our broken connections.
They knew at least how to pass on the world to the next generation and that can’t be said of us today. What with our arsenal of weapons of mass destruction and reckless leaders casually talking about nuclear war and ignoring climate peril.
Creating a better world
We are the generation that history has tasked with the weighty responsibility to re-imagine and build a new and better world. I believe centering wellbeing is our historic task as a generation at this historic turning point in world history.
This can no longer be a conversation on the margins. We need a wellbeing movement
Wellbeing must be at the center of our institutions. Wellbeing must be at the center of our work and support to social movements and other partners for change. Wellbeing must be at the center of our support to emerging leaders.
I believe in the task to create a better world, at this time; we are being called to look inside and heal our broken selves and once again reach for and that which makes us to be better; do better; and gives us the possibility to create a better a world for all:
- Healthy relationship with self. Other and the world around us