This little titmouse landed on my head three times today collecting my hair for her nest 🙂
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A quick post today with a few wise words from Chris Mooney:
“Science is, let us remember, one of the most destabilizing forces on the planet. It is relentless in its constant driving of change – change not only in how we live, but how we think. In this, it is a liberal force – always searching after the new and different. So sometimes it can’t help but clash with conservative forces – striving to preserve and avert change.”
We humans have long wrestled with understanding our purpose – asking the eternal ontological questions: why are we here? What does it mean to be? What reality are we living in?
And in the past, religion and science have been there to try to fill in the blanks. From the days of Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, questions of faith and logic were seamlessly intertwined. The fathers of mathematics are also the fathers of the greatest insights into human nature.
And then, faith and facts diverged. If you believed in religion, you questioned the science. If you were a scientist, you couldn’t rely on faith.
One only needs to look at today’s most vociferous social debates to see that this divide is still wide. Birth control. Climate change. Gay rights.
But here’s something else that’s happening: a growing number of people are realizing that neither science or religion are providing the comfort, knowledge, and answers they seek. Both facts and faith are now failing us. Once again, we sense a growing void – an emptiness where we used to seek meaning.
According to Time magazine, “The fastest-growing religious group in the U.S. is the category of people who say they have no religious affiliation. Sometimes called “the nones” by social scientists, their numbers have more than doubled since 1990; major surveys put them at 16% of the population.”
And the new realms of science – quantum physics, string theory – are raising more questions than they answer. For instance, we now know that two unrelated atoms can change in exactly the same ways at exactly the same time with no know cause or connection.
So what replaces religion and science? What if, when our consciousness evolves, they don’t have to be separate any longer? What if they’re both right? Perhaps, in the next highly evolved state of consciousness, all we have to do is embrace the mystery and answer the eternal questions of life with a resounding “Yes!”
So far in our journey, we’ve discussed why we need to shift our collective consciousness and what kinds of shifts that might mean. Now it’s time to explore what those shifts look like in our daily lives, as we look for evidence of large-scale transformation through our personal experiences.
Culture shifts and consciousness shifts can be both immediately disruptive and glacially slow. Consider the almost overnight change in values that followed the Twin Towers attack. Americans flocked together, bound by a piercing need for shared community after years of desperate individualism. Some of that yearning for connection yet lingers, but it’s expressed in more positive ways these days. For instance, the meteoric rise of social media allows us connections on a global scale in real time. This has been a disruptive shift – fundamentally changing the ways we interact with one another. But similar humanistic ideas like civil rights, gay rights, human rights, and feminism are still being hotly debated fifty years after they hit the national radar screen.
But what we also must realize is that for every shift, there’s also an entrenchment in the old worldviews, as they fight for relevance and survival. Today, we clearly see this in the political arena, as the Tea Party blocks, rejects, and refuses to compromise on critical national issues. Their worldview is characterized by strict adherence to rules, particularly moral and religious dogmas, resistance to change and a belief that there’s one right way and countless wrong ways. Today’s religious institutions are also feeling the shift away from this worldview, as more and more people reject “one right way” and search for spiritual fulfillment that feels more personal, relevant and less judgmental.
Edmund Bourne, author of Global Shift: How a New Worldview is Transforming Humanity, lists ten things as evidence that we’re moving from an individualistic and materialistic worldview to more humanistic, systemic and spiritual ones. Here are a few:
• The increased popularity of Eastern philosophies and spiritual practices like yoga, meditation and alternative medicine. Contrast the decline in church attendance with the rise in those embracing these practices.
• The environmental movement. The ultimate shift from me to we thinking, since all systems on the planet are interconnected. The whole idea of the biosphere – the web of all living things on the earth – only came into our vocabulary in the 1970s.
• The “New Physics” like quantum mechanics and string theory that blow up previous scientific assumptions about the way the world works and acknowledges the possibility of dimensions beyond our senses and observations.
• The rise of feminine energy and values including cooperation, inclusiveness, receptivity and intuition. After centuries of submission, women are now more powerful than ever, and even men are encouraged to “get in touch with their feminine side.”
• The proliferation of global-based charitable organizations who are delivering desperately needed aid to those who need it most. This is a signal of our ability to think beyond our immediate needs, take care of others, and develop systems to solve large-scale issues.
Look around you and you’ll start to see evidence every day that we’re shifting. Look to yourself first: how are you walking through this world? What’s important to you now that wasn’t when you were younger? How have your filters for interpreting the world changed? Once your eyes are open, you’ll see it all around. And that’s part of the shift, too.
There’s been a lot of conversation in the last several years about the shifting sands of our culture. The flagging economy precipitated a shift in values from materialism to pragmatism. Political loyalties are shifting from the two major traditional parties to a post-partisan or independent stance. Personal relationships have shifted from face-to-face to virtual online interactions.
And now there’s all this talk about a shift in consciousness. But what does that really mean? It means a shift in values, in behavior, and in ways of relating to life, others and the deep human need for meaning.
First of all, let’s be clear. This isn’t about one shift. It might be more like four or five shifts if we’re honest. It’s about all of us, from wherever we are on the spectrum, moving up a notch. And here’s the really cool thing – it never stops. As renowned social psychologist Dr. Clare W. Graves called it “A never-ending quest.”
Graves identified eight different ways of seeing the world, and looking across history, you can see how man shifted from one phase to the next. Here’s a great explanation of the course of human history in six minutes, four seconds from my friend John Marshall Roberts that explains this idea.
You’ll see the shifts from tribalism, empire building and the idea of life as a battle to the idea of life as a test. This shift sparked the rise of religion, of right and wrong, of moral authority. But soon, people began to shift again, this time toward free thinking, away from the constraints of religious dogma, and toward science, innovation, and personal power. This individualistic worldview is still the dominant one here in America. It’s about “what have you done for me lately?” It’s about affluence, winning, and materialism.
But it doesn’t end there. The next shift started happening – about 50 years ago in fact. That’s when some people felt another call, one that’s gained momentum recently with the economic collapse. They sensed that stuff wasn’t enough, that the things money can buy don’t really bring happiness. And once again, they turned. This time toward relationships, toward people, toward humanity. It sparked the civil rights movement, the feminist movement, the environmental movement and a new fascination with other, less dogmatic forms of spirituality.
And, as the pattern goes, once again some people are feeling the tug of the next shift. This time, it’ll be a move toward restoring balance in the world, of seeing the world as an interconnected system, of reclaiming the world from faceless multi-national conglomerates who still worship the old worldview. Where nature is revered instead of only seen as a resource to use for our own immediate needs. Where science and spirit start to unify instead of polarize, where mystery is embraced.
One way to think about the shift from individualistic to humanistic to systemic is a shift from situational values to sustainable values, as writer Dov Seidman explains. Situational values are driven by the here and now – by the “What can you do for me right now?” mindset – the short term wins in spite of the long-term costs. The only guardrails are what we can and cannot do in situations. Situational values, however, are guided by what we should and should not do in situations. “Sustainable values are therefore all about how, not how much,” Seidman says.
Shifts are never clear-cut, convenient or instantaneous. But they’re also inevitable. They’re part of being human – in my opinion, the most exciting and interesting part.
Our world is changing, perhaps with speed and intensity like we’ve never known.
The institutions, systems, beliefs and our ways of behaving and thinking – the ones that have gotten us this far – may not take us much further. When you look around, you can see these cultural cracks. Bank bailouts. The Occupy movement’s response. A stagnant economy that needs some serious re-imagining in a world of limited resources and exploding population. An education system that’s not producing the kind of workers we need to propel our country forward to a prosperous future. Political paralysis that benefits no one, especially not the people government is intended to serve. The list isn’t short, but don’t let that get you down.
As noted management consultant Peter Drucker once famously said, “Every few hundred years in Western history there occurs a sharp transformation. Within a few short decades, society – its worldview, its basic values, its social and political structures, its key institutions – rearranges itself. We are currently living through such a time.”
In times like these, when the status quo is failing and a new way hasn’t yet clearly emerged – there are two ways to go. You can transcend the status quo with big dreams, new systems, radical innovation, and a higher level of thinking and interpreting the world. Or you can simply wait until the bottom falls out and rebuild out of what little is left standing.
This is a time of great opportunity and great responsibility for some, and a time of entrenchment for others as they try to hang on to what they know in spite of its approaching expiration date.
And that produces a lot of friction.
In this context, it’s easy to understand the increased polarization of our country and our culture. But polarization won’t move us forward – it will only cause us to lurch from one wild swing to another, moving up and down instead of ahead.
That’s why now is the time for empathy and understanding.
But here’s the trick about empathy and understanding: not everyone values it, practices it, or is interested in extending such civility to people they consider “the dreaded other.” We live in a time of egocentrism and ethnocentrism – we care more about ourselves and those like us than the greater whole.
And right now, the greater whole needs some attention.
So how do we transcend instead of devolve? We begin to adopt a more humanistic and systemic way of thinking and looking at the world. We start to care more about humankind as a big family and restoring balance and vitality to a system that’s not working so well. Truth is, society will take both paths, but we’re more optimistic and hopeful than those who will stand by and maintain the status quo because its all they know.
We’re going to talk about some of those hopeful ways here, and some of the ways we can begin – as individuals and a community – to create a future where we all consciously push the envelope of human potential forward.
Enjoy the day.
Welcome to the inside of my head, where things are constantly whirring, colliding and synthesizing in unexpected ways.
I think a lot about our culture, what makes people tick, and how to inspire change that benefits people, business and planet.
It’s become perfectly clear to me that change starts at the individual level, so in order to change our world, we must first change ourselves. And that means knowing ourselves, our strengths, weaknesses, potential and biases. What motivates us, what we’re afraid of, and how we make decisions. It means taking a look at ourselves in the light of full reality, not our rosy preconceived notions.
Once we understand ourselves, we can then seek to understand others with more empathy, compassion and wisdom than before. In today’s increasingly fragmented world, this is more important than ever as we face collective threats to our future like climate disruption. But we lack the tools to bridge the gap in mindsets and worldviews, to move cohesively toward a common goal that unifies rather than divides us.
We’re going to spend a lot of time talking about this journey, bringing together science, psychology, economics, politics and other disciplines. We’re going to aim for nothing short of moving our own consciousness to a higher level, where the human mind and psyche can begin to make sense of the complex world we’ve created and move it in a more positive direction. As the noted contemporary philosopher Ashok Gangadean says, “The most important thing we can do is to evolve our consciousness.”
Welcome to step one.
Happy to have you along for the ride.