The Delusion Of Certainty
by Nigel Summerley and Rowena J Ronson
NS: In the midst of the pandemic, It seems a constant refrain – and one that is growing louder – that nothing is certain anymore. Were we lucky to have “predictable” lives before all this? Or is the continuing uncertainty actually a jolt pushing us back to living in the moment and being constantly adaptable?

RJR: Our times were only predictable in comparison and certainly depended on where someone lived in the world. And predictability is only an illusion. The 20th century brought with her world wars, famines and pandemics, and the warning signs of climate change too. Predictability has always been an illusion, as has certainty. We have always adapted as a species. This adaptation is being forced upon us because we became delusional and complacent. These times are a much needed jolt to look in the mirror of our oceans and lands, and take responsibility for the future of our entire planet as one. We are forcibly being awakened.

NS: Perhaps I should have said that things are now even more uncertain. So, is the answer to embrace uncertainty and be prepared at all times to adapt? A major problem is that most people (and their politicians) don’t find that idea appealing. They want stability and dependability and security – none of which, as we know, are possible. Humans have to adapt to survive, but so many of them seem unwilling to do that that it makes you wonder how on earth we’re all still here…
RJR: How indeed! I heard a wise man say the other day, and I think he was quoting Attenborough… ” ‘If we continue as we are in terms of our relationship with our planet… we will witness it, our children will live it, and our grandchildren will die from it’… We desperately need to adapt our behaviour…”
NS: Humans seem to be unique in having the ability to imagine that things are other than they actually are… ie the ability to be in denial. All other living things seem to deal with reality – and adapt or die. Those two options are now the ones that confront us and our grandchildren. We must adapt or they will die.
RJR: So painful to read what you have written, Nigel. Has this year made a difference do you think?
NS: It must have made a difference in many ways. But I think it’s possible that many of us are so wrapped up in our individual anxieties that we are not seeing the big picture. Although it may sound uncaring to say this, the pandemic is surely a minor issue, isn’t it?
RJR: Minor in some ways… but with great potential of chaos… and then, hopefully… change.
NS: Yes… there must be a fear now that we have not seen the peak of the chaos… nor can we see what that will bring in its wake – although of course I share your hope.
RJR: I feel we are entering a phase of raised awareness. The virus is touching everyone’s lives and is teaching us all so much, including the idea of gratitude. If our gratitude can be raised, it has to be a good thing, no?
NS: Yes. There is so much to be grateful for. If the crisis makes us see this, it may also make us adapt for the better.
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