I've said it before and I'll say it again: It's remarkable how much mindful material is available. Once analyzed and synthesized, it can show us the way to a brighter future. Two of those resources were mentioned in a recent post: The Fourth Turning: What Cycles of History Tell Us About America's Next Rendezvous with Destiny and The True and Only Heaven: Progress and Its Critics. An awareness of their central messages plus proper action can produce a powerful prescription for the change that is required to get us out of our predicament. The first stage is to get a majority of people to admit that we have a predicament. (Fortunately, recent financial market happenings make it difficult to pretend that we don't have a predicament -- at least with respect to a long and prosperous retirement.)
From the Introduction to The True and Only Heaven [published in 1991]:
But the historical program of the left has become equally self-defeating. The attempt to extend Western standards of living to the rest of the world will lead even more quickly to the exhaustion of nonrenewable resources, the irreversible pollution of the earth's atmosphere, and the destruction of the ecological system, in short, on which human life depends. [p.23]
Obviously, these mindsets have the same consequences.
As the sub-title of The Fourth Turning reveals, authors Strauss and Howe present a compelling case that history moves in cycles and that we can project the future if we pay attention to these cycles. Written in 1997, the authors accurately project recent events such as the financial crisis. Using historical cycles as a guide, they predict that we are moving into a crisis phase that will last until about 2026. They recognize that due to the power of technology, this could be the crisis to end all crises.
Two excerpts from The Fourth Turning:
As today's Americans look ahead, the challenge is to marshal the coming season's new public energies to achieve positive, not destructive ends. The better we ready ourselves collectively, the more likely we will be not just to survive the Crisis but to apply its fury for good and humane purposes. [p.313]
After recent events, there are many more who might be inclined to believe that a crisis is on the horizon. That's a start in bringing attention to our predicament. We must skip the next two phases of the cycle and proceed to a phase they refer to as Awakening. We can leverage (no pun intended) our recent financial follies into a new phase of capital investment -- one that admits that there are limited resources and one that improves our quality of life.
Briefly, here are my thoughts on the direction that we should head:
One of the keys to change is recognizing the flaws in the current monetary system. The most succinct information that I have found on these flaws is the Crash Course at ChrisMartenson.com. While you may like certain aspects of the new institution that has evolved at integraljournal.net, you will not appreciate the full value of it until you understand the flaws in our monetary system. The current system is debt-based while the system/society described here is equity-based. The current system is based on possession while the system/society described here is based on access. The current system directs us to more and more specialization while the system/society described here is based on general knowledge.
Any new system has to have a foundation and I believe that the best foundation is a society of universities. Universities that educate participants in a general knowledge of where we have been and where we can go as a society. All of the current institutions can re-tool themselves and convert to a more sustainable model. But conversion means that the old bureaucracies and hierarchies must be left behind.
"The illusion is that we have created the most sophisticated society in the history of man. The reality is that the division of knowledge into feudal fiefdoms of expertise has made general understanding and coordinated action not simply impossible but despised and distrusted."
--John Ralston Saul (Voltaire's Bastards)
Although it has evolved and will evolve -- by design -- in the future, the concept for a more comprehensive way of living is simple:
* Capital from members/patrons is used to build pedestrian-only
campuses (urban and rural) around the world and as working capital. [Currently, we are in a financial environment where many are willing to accept less than a zero percent return. As demand for bonds decreases, investors will be subject to erosion of principle. While membership deposits in this system will not provide a return on capital, assets will be protected from both deflation and inflation through a lesser of cost or market policy. This is truly another paradigm in wealth storage.] This environment can be utilized as a place to retire; a second
home; a primary residence; a destination resort; a university; a
retreat... Integral Living. [It should be noted that as you age, it will be possible to reserve another unit for a personal caregiver. In addition, it will be possible with enough of a deposit to reserve additional living quarters for family and friends when they visit.]
* Living quarters will be approximately 500 s.f. of interior space along with outside private garden space. Separate gourmet kitchens and dining areas will be dispersed throughout each campus. [At some point in the not-to-distant future, many of our homes may be too expensive to heat. These living quarters will contain the passive heating similar to that described in this article.]
* Those who build and operate the campuses are independent scholars with rolling quarter-long contracts. These scholars live on-site.
* The entire campus will be a classroom at all times as we should all continue to learn as we live. [This working university provides an alternative to expensive university educations as well as providing scholars with skills that will be useful in a future that will not look anything like the past.]
* On-site gardens and orchards will provide fresh fruit and produce to the extent possible.
* Reservations will be based on seniority. Those who reserve and occupy specific living quarters will have options to reserve those living quarters in the future.
* Members/patrons will draw down their membership accounts as they utilize/occupy the properties. They can deposit additional membership funds at any time. So long as funds to cover a stay have been on deposit for at least a year in advance of the commencement of any reservation period, members can reserve one or more living quarters. [The bottom line is that if you have enough of a deposit, you can assure yourself access for any time period you desire.]
* If there is a sufficient amount of cash in the working capital account, members can opt to withdraw all or some of the funds in their membership account.
* Please note that this can serve as a comprehensive alternative to the current carbon offset schemes.
After a career in institutional real estate, I began to explore the reasons why we as a society have failed to develop to our full potential. My research has revealed that the primary cause is the confining nature of our dominant institutions. My goal is to attempt to get people to "think outside of their institutional boxes" and work towards the development of new institutions that encourage self-actualization. It should be noted that Maslow believed in the late 1960's that only 1-2% of the population could be considered to have reached the self-actualization stage. There has been little progress made since that time.
So long as institutions operate under the dominant paradigm -- and most, if not all, do -- it will be difficult to establish reform that will move us towards self-actualization. As has been pointed out in various posts, most institutions are compromised and even those with the best of intentions are only able to operate as a reactive force.
I'll end with this excerpt from The True and Only Heaven:
Property ownership is an extremely burdensome endeavor as it is the ultimate example of accumulation and accumulation is the nemesis of sustainable development. There are ways of living well without having the exclusive rights to property. A private golf club is one example. The above-described institution can be another.