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Wisdom and Crises Shape Our Mindset in the Face of Climate Change

By Grace Smith January 29, 2020 Mindset

“Your true purpose is found at the intersection of your greatest aliveness and the world’s critical needs.” – Frederick Buechner

My Search for Wisdom

It was some years ago that I realised I had reached the stage of my life in which I was supposed to be wise. However, I did not feel wise so decided to make it my business to find out what this state of being was all about and how I could acquire it.

I have always believed that it is easier to approach deep questions in the company of others who have a similar mindset.

Engaging with a Group About Conscious Ageing

I approached our local University of the Third Age to let them know I wished to recruit members to explore both Wisdom and Conscious Ageing. The group has been meeting now for the past decade, and has grown to incorporate new ideas as they become part of the present zeitgeist.

Wisely and Consciously Engaging with Today’s Existential Challenges

In the third decade of the 21st century, nothing is more important than coming to terms with the problems around climate change and carbon dioxide emissions.

Inspired by the clarion calls of Greta Thurber, Extinction Rebellion, and other similar movements I have been researching what the present-day elders are doing about these environmental threats.

Why We Fear Climate Change Talk

Jeffrey Kiehl worked for 30 years studying climate change. He noticed that when he gave public lectures, his audience would become very uncomfortable when he offered them factual information about the dangers of the changing climate.

His well-researched scientific evidence made his audience fearful, so they tended to reject the quoted statistics.

Kiehl decided this denialism must be related to unconscious feelings. He was so keen to understand this rejectionist attitude that he changed careers to study Jung’s Theory of the Unconscious. Today he is a respected Jungian Analyst.

How Does the Unconscious Operate?

Studying Kiehl’s ideas has offered me a new understanding of why it is so difficult for many people, business leaders and politicians particularly, to accept the scientific data.

Apparently, there is a human predisposition to reject information which makes us feel uncomfortable. No one wants to change their lifestyle. The public are frightened by the realisation they may have to consume less in the future in order to maintain a healthy environment.

Crises Offer Us an Opportunity for Change

I am reminded of learning about Crises Intervention at the Child Guidance Clinic many years ago. A good time to create changes in the attitude of emotionally disturbed children is when they are going through a personal crisis.

Maybe the crises created by the present dangers of flood, famine, and fire will help us to understand we all depend on each other to maintain conditions for sustainable life on this planet.

The Buddhists told us many years ago that all mankind was inter-related. Ubuntu in Africa is based on this mutual interdependency as well.

So what should the Wise Elder do in these turbulent times? It’s our job to find avenues for co-operation with the younger members of the community to work together toward reversing the effects of the industrial revolution and humankind’s developmental endeavours.

It will take time, perhaps longer that it did to create the issue, but we owe it to ourselves, and the generations coming after us, to begin this process now.

Are you afraid of talking about climate change? What makes you uncomfortable about the topic? At what time of your life did you start considering yourself wise? How do you use your wisdom? Please share with our community.

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The Author

For the past 10 years, Grace has been facilitating senior groups on the topic of Conscious Ageing. They discuss how to maintain their physical and cognitive health, whilst fostering emotional and spiritual wellbeing. In between playing tennis, croquet, and bridge, she can be found walking her two beautiful Whippets. Please visit Grace at

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