Bruce Nixon Bruce Nixon


Dame Anita Roddick’s Foreword to
LIVING SYSTEM: Making Sense of Sustainability

See also the companion USA foreword from Margaret Wheatley


This book is about sustainability in the broadest sense – the environment, the ecological system on which all life depends, global social and economic justice and the need for respect for all difference amongst human beings and in nature. It calls for a change in values and consciousness that will not only save the planet, but put an end to violence. It calls for an end to mono thinking, monoculture and the habits of domination, imperialism and attempting to colonise thought as well as cultures and nations.

What is unique about the book is that it advocates understanding and addressing the underlying system and the values beneath it as the best way forward if we are to realise our hopes for a fair and sustainable World. The system Bruce describes is a living system embracing all human beings and the Earth they live in.

Living systems always react if not respected. We are part of a living system – each of us here for but an instant in time. So we owe it to our children and descendants to be good stewards and act wisely. This is what leaders must learn or they are a danger. Once you understand it you see it everywhere, every day. This is what we have been confronted with particularly from the beginning of the 21st Century. The tragedies and catastrophes are warnings – 9/11 and its successors, global terrorism, violence, climate change and destruction of the ecosystem. We need to learn from them or there will be much worse to come. Poverty, lack of respect, injustice, poverty, greed and domination are at the root of it. Current beliefs in “Western” leadership have only made things worse – more poverty and violence – not less. We have to face the truth. We delude ourselves with slogans, blatantly misleading words.

Bruce describes the key elements of the system. These are an uncritical belief in global sourcing and “science”, domination of nature, domination by global and regional institutions by business, which also undermines “democracy”, racist foreign policies, untruthfulness and denial, destabilising financial markets, the money debt system, perverse taxation, massive tax evasion and distortion of the purpose of business and responsibilities of directors.

Underlying the system is the dominant value of putting money and power before meeting human needs, unconscious racism and an imbalance of male and female energies.

Bruce puts forward a new agenda for the 21st Century to address these issues including a renewable Charter for big companies and citizen’s basic income.

Whilst radical, it is also realistic and respectful of other views. It ranges from strategic issues and proposals to down to earth practical steps anyone can take. It takes a historical and spiritual perspective attempting to learn from History. It is very balanced in tone and content recognising the positive contributions, the up side and the down or dark side; challenging and positive, hopeful, encouraging and appreciating. Bruce believes in seeing the good in people, putting attention on good models, what works and finding common ground – rather than verbal or physical violence which has been increasingly used by the “West” on a massive scale.

There are amazing revelations in the research he draws on eg war and foreign policy and his study of politics in our parliament - the “Mother of Parliamentary Democracy”.

Of particular interest are the ideas about sustainable buildings and cities and the notion that they belong to people, who need to be involved in the co-creation of important buildings and town and cityscapes. Our environment is essential to mental and emotional health and communities that work for people of all ages and incomes. There are some valuable positive examples.

Bruce believes we are all mirrors of each other and if we are to change things for the better we need to look first inside ourselves – including acknowledging the beast within us all. We need to be truthful, show respect and build partnership based on trust and good relationships.

He believes we have much to learn from wise women, who may save us from ourselves.

–Dame Anita Roddick, England

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