I started the journey that became notanymore.net when I moved to Scotland in an attempt to try and challenge my paradigm to change my perspective. This was a turbulent time in my life trying to discover my purpose and reason for being, getting away from familiarity, which I felt was holding me back. Not only was turbulence being felt in my little ecosystem but also in a macro global context. The world we live in has shifted significantly over the last decade from one of perceived ‘plenty’ and the success of the ‘Western way’ to one of:
• Short–term, transient democratic governments driving political apathy causing hung parliaments in major democratic powers,
• Fragile economies and the threat of global economic/political failure,
• The climate debate as a pseudo religious Platonic right or wrong confused argument of false dialectics (i.e. opinion overpowering truth/fact),
• War as a constant state of normalcy,
• Africa the bread basket of the world as the basket case,
• A shift in economic and geopolitical power to the East.
All, I believe, catalyzed by the preference in Western countries to view the future through a narrow, monocular shortsighted lens of self-interest, driving diminishing returns.
notanymore.net was my attempt, using other people’s words, to ask the questions that I felt were important. I aimed to create a website and community where people could submit their own thoughts and where they could be debated without fear of reprisal. However as time has gone by I also wonder why I didn’t write anything myself? I believe that fear is a deeply rooted protection mechanism that meant I hid behind other’s words and ideas. I think I feared the value of my own thoughts and the possible critique they could attract because I was trapped by the Platonic system of right and wrong that I was questioning! Really I should have aimed for complexity through dialectical and ontological discussion, allowing myself to feel comfortable with uncertainty. I strongly believe that trying to break down complexity allows for creativity to emerge. Although I admit, this is a harder and lonelier road. I have learnt that doing it by myself can be emotionally and physically taxing and I am glad to have had a fellow traveler on this journey, my wife, Felicity.
I have been described as a deep thinker and a doer, logically analytical and creative, a big picture person and detail oriented. So I am either paradoxical or I have dialectical ability? I still don’t know how I fit in the system that we call society, particularly one that wants the ‘right’ answer… yesterday! This description of my predilection has caused me to feel at odds with the world and is probably why I have felt the intrinsic need to do something to answer the simple yet big questions of ‘why, what, when and how?’
In conjunction with building notanymore.net, after September 11 and during the Afghan and Iraq wars, I began questioning the rationale for military intervention? Coming from a long history of military officers (although I was never one) in my family and living the military family life, I knew that the rationale for war had to be rock solid and a last resort.
At the time, I did not feel this and now it turns out in the present day neither do great swathes of society. However that horse has bolted and once Pandora’s box is open it cannot be shut. At this time I also began questioning the negative stereotyping that was prevalent (and still is) of a whole segment of society and culture. This caused me to walk into the King Fahd Mosque and Islamic Centre of Edinburgh on Friday prayers through over 1,000 people to ask the question “help me understand?” I was welcomed with open arms and the journey of understanding was one of the most amazing experiences of my life.
My thanks go to Sheikh Hussein, Fawzi, Yousef and all of the brothers, sisters and their families who made Felicity’s and my journey such a life-changing event. They even did us the honour of marrying us under Islamic tradition (Nikaah) to compliment the CofE wedding we had in Australia.
This search through asking the four simple questions of ‘why, what, when and how’ has caused me to continually place myself in uncomfortable situations. This is where I believe the learning opportunities exist and has led me to posit that the search is one of trying to uncover creativity in complexity. This led me to undertake a Master Business Administration (MBA) majoring in ‘strategy and innovation’. I believe that if, as society, we want to progress we need to combine strategic thinking with creativity at all levels of community to create innovation and change for the better of the human race, Gaia (earth) and its flora and fauna.
I am now the proud father of two boys who are highly inquisitive, already practicing mind-mapping techniques to unlock their own creativity. I love the fact that I never showed them how to use the technique, they just did it. In a safe environment my children have no fear and I feel that I have a lot to learn from their ability to just have a go without aversion for the consequences. My children are my best creations and hopefully they will assimilate the best of me and help me improve the worst of me.
I hope you enjoy all that notanymore.net was and who knows, maybe one day I will come back to it so notanymore isn't notanymore?