The Way Ahead Newsletter: No. 2
It's good to be back (in your inbox at least) with the second edition of the ‘Way Ahead’ newsletter. This month has flown by, as it appears many of us are now experiencing the compression of time – or of never having enough time! Whether there is a reality behind this sensation, or it reflects the increasing convergence of events occurring in the world today, is unsure. The bigger picture, as I try to reflect upon, aims to draw some of the dots together within the larger tapestry of socio-cultural evolution, with patterns of human consciousness that are both collective and individual. What marks our current time-window is the parallel emergence of mass communication alongside increasing personal awareness. Such elevated perception of what is going on around us is crucial for the years that lie ahead….
Modern humanity has been living in an intervening era between the last Ice Age and the present. In the general evolutionary run of things it has been a very rapid, and short, ride. The last 15,000 years have been an evolutionary program that has taken humanity from early hunter-gatherings to a stage of social development that is on the brink of forming a new evolutionary model – that of a conscious unified species. The last two centuries especially have been an incredible wave of development and growth. The question that now confronts us is: are we soon to reach the peak of this phase in our growth just as we appear to be on the cusp of a unique planetary era?
Indeed, if we take just a brief glance at some of the features of our current globalized world we might be mistaken for thinking we already inhabit a planetary society:
· Communications: the Internet and global communication systems; the ‘always-on’ flow of news and information.
· Language: several languages are manifesting as global, such as English, Chinese, Spanish; this is encouraged by our global communication systems.
· Economy: global economic markets; financial trade agreements; economic blocs, economics beyond nation states.
· Culture: cultural trends are dispersed globally – films, music, food, fashion, sports, etc
· Environment: threats and consequences are now global, with knock-on effects being felt worldwide.
· Travel: global mobility and tourism and now allowing for worldwide forms of contact, exposure, and experiences.
· Boundaries: a weakening of the nation state, and a blurring of frontiers; large people flows; larger international political blocs – EU (European Union); AU (African Union); UNASUR (Union of South American Nations); AL (Arab League); and ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
· Work: people live & work in different regions/countries; working from home; online commerce; migrant workers.
Our great planetary web of interrelations and interconnections has been arrived at over some 13,000 years of social development, along a familiar pattern of the capture, storage, and usage of available energies. Yet contrary to standard belief systems, such developmental processes do not occur in linear trends (a gradual line of ascent) as our basic concepts of Darwinian evolution have been used to portray.
Many ancient teachings, both spiritual and secular, and many indigenous cultures, have long known about and taught the concept of cyclic processes that are repeated over long periods of historical time. There can also be cycles within cycles; smaller cycles within larger cycles whereby social phases, from less cultured states to more cosmopolitan arrangements, can manifest within one overarching cycle. These expansions in social cycles also coincide, or are coexistent with, changes in perception and worldviews. In other words, major social revolutions are accompanied by great shifts in human consciousness. Such shifts are also parallel to shifts in how the human species understands, and subsequently harnesses, varying forms of energy, upon a progression of discovering ever-finer energies in the world, and indeed the cosmos, of which we are living participants.
Our spiral of cultural history involves a complex interplay of various cycles and systems: of social systems, energy systems and communications revolutions – all co-dependent and integral. Ecological, biological, social and technological systems are now being reorganized because our world is now leaving one model and entering a new mythology, a new model for the next stage of growth. As this transition takes place there will be inevitable disturbances as both clash and interfere
just as the interference patterns of energy. However, a new cosmology of humankind is
emerging. As eminent historian Lewis Mumford, in his The Transformations of Man
Every [human] transformation ... has rested on a new metaphysical and ideological base; or rather, upon deeper stirrings and intuitions whose rationalized expression takes the form of a new picture of the cosmos and the nature of man ... we stand on the brink of [such] a new age: the age of an open world and of a self capable of playing its part in that larger sphere ... In carrying [human] ... self-transformation to this further stage, world culture may bring about a fresh release of spiritual energy that will unveil new potentialities, no more visible in the human self today than radium was in the physical world a century ago, though always present.
In this phase shift
into a ‘a new picture of the cosmos and the nature of man’, as Mumford writes, there may well be a ‘fresh release of spiritual energy’ that in-forms this development. Yet such spiritual energies do not necessarily imply religious ecstatic states, or New Age crystal cults, or any other of these stereotyped images. Such energies are most likely to be behind increased creative innovation, awareness of the world, integral-ecological understanding, new values, communications, collaboration, ethics and empathy with our fellow humans. Spiritual energy does not have to be otherworldly
. In fact, inner growth fosters a deeper commitment and responsibility to the world of our daily lives, and not the opposite.
A planetary era does not necessarily imply that we have a globalized model for all; that we are interdependent on our shared infrastructures, or have a global currency. These are secondary manifestations and do not portray whether or not the actual species feel themselves
to be part of a planetary era. I would suggest that the sense of being planetary involves how we invest in our collaborations, communications, and empathic consciousness. This will be the release of the ‘spiritual energy’ that Mumford talks of. How we manifest our consciousness in our contacts, communities, and communications will mark how the years ahead unfold.
It would be a great shame if our present cultural evolutionary project – that took humanity from foragers to the cusp of a planetary era – was to collapse just before it managed to shift into a new era of unprecedented connectivity and collaboration.
[Please feel free to pass this newsletter on to anyone who you think would like to receive it, and ask them to sign up from my homepage. As ever, all feedback, thoughts, and enquiries are most welcome – just drop me a line!]
Until next month.... please visit my webpage
for more news...and stay informed.
PS. New Essay now available online on my website: THE PHOENIX GENERATION: THE RISE OF THOSE WHO WILL CHANGE THE WORLD
Some News of Interest
A 'Saying' to Share
'If you are not acting on what knowledge you already have, why are you seeking to know more?’
A Tale to Finish
A Meeting of Tools
It is told thatthere was once a carpentry where all the tools held a meeting to settle their differences. At the head of this strange assembly was the hammer acting as president, but soon the other tools declared that he had to resign because he made too much noise with his blows. Hammer admitted the charge but he refused to resign from the presidency because it would mess up the organization, and if the screw took over, as he was wanting to do, this would only screw things up and make the meeting chaotic and without order. The screw and all kinds of nuts argued against this at the same time objecting against the sandpaper taking the presidency as this would create excessive friction with his usual rough sandpaper treatment. Others agreed with this also saying that the tape measure should be thrown out the meeting as he always measured others according to a fixed pattern, as if he were the only one perfect.
Finally, the carpenter arrived into the carpentry, and placing his apron upon himself set about his work. He used the hammer, sandpaper, tape measure, nuts and screws. Finally, the initial block of rough wood turned into a beautiful and useful piece of furniture. When the work was finished the carpenter silently left the room, and once again the tools’ meeting was resumed. That’s when the saw began to speak; he said:
‘Friends,it has been shown to us that we each have our flaws, but the carpenter works with our qualities – that’s what makes us valuable. Let us not think more on the negatives we see in each other; rather let us see our skills that we each contribute, and which the carpenter appreciates and uses to the best.’
The assembly then realized that the hammer was strong and gave force to the screw; sandpaper was able to polish and smooth things over; and that the tape measure was accurate and precise. Together, they were a team capable of producing high quality furniture. This made them proud of their strengths and capable of working together. And from then on everyone became the best they could and worked in harmony to create the most beautiful and functional furniture one could ever hope to find.