This special issue of CI News comes at the request of friends who have urged me to share the following ideas more widely.
This is our time
Are you struggling to find your bearings in these times of change – or do you know people who are?
If so, I’d like to offer a suggestion and some encouragement based on my understanding of the cultural dynamics going on around us – dynamics that have already been going on for hundreds of years during the Empire-to-Planetary transition.
The visible breakdown of old institutions and cultural norms is exactly what’s to be expected in such a profound cultural transformation. New forms are also emerging although they’re still less visible. (For some examples of the brighter side of the story, please take a look at 99 Reasons Why 2016 Was a Good Year.)
Nevertheless, like with a human birth, this time of breakdown and breakthrough can be scary and painful to go through – even more so if you don’t understand the bigger picture of what’s happening.
As I see it, recent phenomena like Brexit, Trump, Syria, etc. are mostly a reaction against the long-term cultural trends that are moving the world toward more humane and sustainable cultures. These trends are bringing more knowledge, more choice and more ability to impact the world to larger and larger percentages of humanity – at the same time that the challenges of sharing one small planet are becoming more urgent. This combination of increased human capability and increased need for change is driving an accelerating co-evolution that won’t stabilize until we achieve much deeper levels of harmony – within ourselves, with each other and with the natural world. Why? Because that’s the way complex adaptive systems evolve.
There are some legitimate concerns mixed in with the reaction to this cultural co-evolution, but that reaction is mostly driven by people who sense they are on the wrong side of history, who are still loyal to Empire Era ways and who are trying to stop the momentum of change. They will do damage but they won’t be able to turn the tide.
They will do damage in two ways: There will be the obvious damage done by regressive and repressive government policies. But there will also be the subtler, yet perhaps more profound, damage done to the extent that those who would otherwise be building a better future can be distracted and diverted.
So here’s my suggestion for an 80/20 rule to minimize the damage: Devote at least 80% of your energy and resources to building toward a more humane and sustainable future. We have the cultural wind at our backs, more than most people realize, but each of us must raise our sails if it is to carry us forward. If you can see ways to innovate, implement and/or educate that move us toward the Planetary Era, now is the time to do so.
Then devote some time and energy, but no more than 20%, to engaging with the Empire Era loyalists. This may mean resisting regressive and repressive policies – and helping those most impacted by these policies. It may mean reaching out in a human-to-human way to work with at least some of these loyalists to resolve legitimate issues and reduce everyone’s level of fear.
This 80/20 rule is, of course, a gross generalization. Some people will feel called to put all of their focus on confronting the reaction against a Planetary future. That’s great if it’s a real inner calling but not so good if you are just getting sucked into the drama. If you feel any inner calling to build the new, the future needs your efforts now. The fastest way through this time of turmoil is to keep moving forward. The ricochet of reactions to reactions rarely provides much long-term benefit.
So in these Northern Hemisphere dark days, take heart in the bigger picture. This is our time, and it will be for years to come. Let’s make the most of it.
December 16, 2016