Today sees the publication of Jon’s book “Citizens: Why the key to fixing everything is all of us”.
I really do hope this is going to be one of those books that plays a part in shaping the future of a generation, that changes a nation and offers a new way of being. That might sound over-blown but, honestly, I believe this is a book about something big, ad it is needed right now.
I want to do is simply encourage you to go look for this book, or at least to view one of the many events Jon is doing. Jon’s pop-up event with GameShift was brilliant – and if you’d like to view that event you can find our recording below.
Jon has explored the foundational stories that shape the way we act and think. Jon used to work in advertising, but gradually became weary of being part of flogging the consumer story: “the story of humans as inherently self-interested and competitive”. A story that has shaped, and shapes, much of what we see in the world, and that shapes the structure of society and the actions of governments. Jon’s distress at the limits of that story set him on a journey to dig a lot deeper into who we are, why we are, and how it can all be different. Jon’s book lays bare the reasons why the consumer story is failing, and shows how a different future can be reclaimed.
This is a visionary book with the right mix of rigour and practicality. Jon has filled the book with stories and examples, mostly of folk like you and me who got on and did something, who collaborated with others and made something new possible. It’s applicable at all levels and has implications for all types of organisations – charities and NGOs, governments at all levels, all forms of businesses and more. And it’s crammed with practical tips and support – in many ways it’s a toolkit.
In this time of conflict and systemic collapse, there is a terrible risk that we rush towards control and power as a safe place. But we’ve reached the limits of heroism, and this is not a heroic book. Instead, it brings a deeper invitation: to connect to life, to connect to communities around questions that matter, and to act, together.
It asks, “what would you do in this time if you truly believed in yourself and those around you?” – what a cracking question this is. It’s a close ally of Mary Oliver’s glorious question “what will you do with your one wild and precious life?”, and David Whyte’s poetic insistence on doing something big enough to “bring you alive”.
These questions are eternal, always vital. And they matter more every day as we feel the distress of so many of the struggling systems around us. We must connect, collaborate, to look for answers, and this is the work that GameShift has always sought to do. We are delighted that Jon and his colleagues are allies and that we get the chance to do some of this together. And we recommend this book, as a very powerful manifesto for the necessity of changing the story and as an aid in doing this work well.