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Monday, November 5, 2007

The rest of the macroshift.

Continuing on my previous macroshift post, here are my reflections from the remainder of Ervin Laszlo's book Macroshift.

For me the rest of the book was a lighter read with some simple observations relating to the mindset shift that is called for and clearly already underway. Here are a couple of framing quotes to set the stage:

"In the past, a more adapted civilization evolved over several generations; the rythym of change was relatively slow. This is no longer the case. The critical period for change today is compressed within the lifetime of a single generation."

" A Chineses porverb warns, 'If we do not change direction, we are likely to end up exactly where we are headed.'"

That last one could be classified as 'duh' but it truly is amazing to look to our civilization and how little we get that, particularly in the face of clear indicators that our trajectory is unsustainable and has brought our civilization into a critical state of instability. In the face of the examples presented in the book of the unsustainable relationship among people and generally with the planet, it moves to exploring the new mindset to be created drawing from Ghandi's quote "Live more simply, so others can simply live."

From there comes the call to forget the following obsolete myths/beliefs:

  • "Nature is inexhaustible"
  • "Nature is a giant mechanism"
  • "Life is a struggle for survival"
  • "The market distributes benefits"
  • "The more you consume the better you are"
along with the following lesser beliefs:
  • Order through hierarchy
  • The ideology of Westfalia
  • Everyone is unique and separate
  • Everything is reversible
  • My country, right or wrong
  • The cult of efficiency
  • The technological imperative
  • Newer is better
  • Economic rationality
  • The future is none of our business
"Values and beliefs determine the way we perceive the world and suggest the ways we prioritize the responses to our perceptions. They affect almost all areas of our judgement and behaviour."

From here comes the call for a 'planetary ethic' that is described simply as: "Live in a way that allows others to live as well." where 'others' refers not only to humans but to all the plants and animals and all the living beings that make up the planet's web of life. This ethic asks also that we meet our responsibilities in the personal, business, and civic or political spheres.

"Logos-inspired evolution was materialistic and conquest and consumption-oriented. The alternative to it is evolution centered on human development and development of human communities." This quote frames the remainder of the book which suggests we are moving from:
  • a focus on ends of conquest, colonization, and consumption
  • which were served by technologies that use and transform matter, that generate the power to operate matter-transforming technologies, and that whet people's appetite, create artificial demand, and shift patterns of consumption.
Replacing those ends are the means and ends of connection, communication, and consciousness.

Some of the specific mindset shifts uncovered include:
  • The shift from competition to reconciliation and partnership
  • The shift from greed and scarcity to sufficiency and caring
  • The shift from outer to inner authority
  • The shift from separation to wholeness
  • The shift from mechanistic to living systems
  • The shift from organizational fragmentation to coherent integration
So to summarize, what I took is that we are seeking to emerge a planetary ethic of:
  • "Live in a way that allows others to live as well"
and the means and ends of:
  • connection;
  • communication; and
  • consciousness
And to cap off this post, I'll end with one of the final quotes that described the spirit of this for me:

"To live with and not against each other, to live in a way that does not rob the chances of others to live as well, to care what is happening to the poor and the powerless as well as to nature calls for feeling and intuition; for sensing the situation in which we find ourselves, apprehending its manifold aspects and creatively responding to it." There's a lot in that one as I reread it.

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