Those who are mindful are beginning to realize that only an entirely
new operating system can prevent the collapse of civilization. However,
to date, no one has presented such a system. This presentation outlines
a system that has the potential to serve as a viable replacement for
the current paradigm.
Many of us will find that our retirement savings will be substantially eroded. From an organic standpoint, this was to be expected. In nature, it is only prudent to store enough to get through the winter season. Our retirement plans assumed that we could store up decades worth of "nuts" and this is just plain nuts in an organic or natural world -- the world that we will revert to either willingly or unwillingly. Bottom line is that most of us will be working for much of the rest of our lives. Depending on how we structure this work, it can either be pleasant or a hellish experience.
Most of us will not be able to pay for expensive college educations for our children. "Higher" education will have to be restructured and it's about time.
We will be forced to transition away from an energy-intensive lifestyle to one that uses less energy. This will mean smaller and more energy efficient living quarters. It also means that big, inefficient homes will decline -- yes, even further -- in value.
We will shift from an emphasis on financial engineering to sustainable development engineering.
Currently, we are all scrambling to make a living. This scrambling makes it difficult to be bodhisattva-like. We can transition to a system that encourages us to find right livelihoods.
Independence will mean being near our food sources and possibly having our own paradise -- a walled garden.
It makes sense to integrate education, work, and leisure in a comprehensive institution/system that also integrates Maslow's hierarchy of needs.
Where would you rather have your wealth stored? In a fund in which the principles have multiple houses and a big office or in an asset-backed account that is administered by a group of independent scholars that have taken an implicit vow of non-accumulation and sustainable living?
A fitting "post"script:
Right living is no longer the fulfillment of an ethical or religious
demand. For the first time in history the Physical survival of the
human race depends on a radical change of the human heart. However, a
change of the human heart is possible only to the extent that drastic
economic and social changes occur that give the human heart the chance
for change and the courage and the vision to achieve it. [p.9&10]
In order to more completely understand the problem of our current "Greater Fool" way of living, it is helpful to review the various posts and related links of this blog. However, for those of you who want a quick answer, I posted the following in my About section this morning:
The development of a response to this condition [why we have failed to develop to our full potential] follows:
(The details may change somewhat as potential members help shape the rules of the club, but this is essentially the form of the institution that has the potential to move us towards a more comprehensive and sustainable lifestyle. As the details are known, the following summary will be updated.)
What the world needs now is an institution that permits us to hedge against the current "Greater Fool" Lifestyle that dominates the culture in inefficient and insidious ways. This lifestyle includes investing in a stock market that is by historical standards considerably overpriced. If history is a guide, many investors can expect to receive little or no income from the stock market. To my knowledge, there is currently no hedge against this Lifestyle.
Below is a description of a private club that can serve as the hedge and the base for meaningful change:
--Rule changes and trustee selection are by "super majority" vote of both equity and membership.
--The design and atmosphere of club properties will be similar to that of a quality resort and spa w/ approximately 350 to 950 square foot apartments.
--Occupancy will be comprised of three components: 1) Guests who pay market rates for services, 2) Club members who utilize the property as a destination residence club at 4% times cost plus expenses that are pro-rated based on all property revenue, 3) Trustee-selected Club members (a.k.a. Fellows) who operate the property on an independent contractor basis and utilize the property as a non-accredited university
--Trustee meetings will be conducted online over a period of 4 or 5 days and members will have access to the entire proceedings whether in writing, audio and/or video.
--There will be two accounts within the club. One will be for properties in developed environments and the other will be for properties in developing environments. The club and others like it are intended to replace institutions like the debt-oriented World Bank and to also serve as a complement to charitable giving.
--Member's ability to reserve apartments at club properties will be subject to: 1) Guest reservations of up to 50% of capacity, 2) initial commitment date, and 3) ongoing commitment (through fulfilling pledges to "developing" and "developed" capital accounts and to actual occupancy)
This entire process of developing an answer has been very organic. However, I sense that there is now enough detail to start presenting the concept to individuals and institutions who may be interested in hedging the current "lifestyle" and/or being a part of a new institution that provides a model for sustainable development.
This post touches on almost every category that I have formerly established. I am sometimes asked what I do. Maybe I should start referring questioners to the About area of this blog. I'm trying to find our why we as a society do not live up to our potential. The fragility of our present circumstance requires some integral and creative answers. We have to create a system that competes with the prevailing system.
Why a "private" hedge club? A public entity requires the oversight of the government. Why anyone would want this government involved in their financial affairs is a mystery to me. Fiscal irresponsibility aside, the government has a "leader" who less than 15 years ago was placed on a board -- through a favor from the well-connected -- and proceeded to distinguish himself during his tenure by telling dirty jokes.
Why a private "hedge" club? Most people have put all their marbles -- literally and figuratively -- in a system that is fraught with corruption and inefficiency. They need to realize that there can be a way to "hedge" the current system. The fragility of the current system is there -- for us all to see -- but yet we remain in a state of denial. (To be up front, this also permits playing the "fear card." A tool that unfortunately seems to be required in order to get the general public's attention.)
Why a private hedge "club"? A private club seems to me to be the only entity that can encompass all of the elements necessary to create a new institution. Education, a physical infrastructure, lack of dogma and doctrine, and longevity. The term "society" works as well but makes it harder to define the rules that are necessary for sustainability.
Primary Hedge Areas
One of the dominant -- read thought-killing -- characteristics of the current system is debt. Debt is all about possessing. The irony is that so long as debt is involved, the system -- not the bank per se -- possesses you. This is unhealthy and one reason -- in my opinion -- for the high levels of depression. (This reminds me of the standard Christian response with respect to the poor: They will always be with us. Baaad Attitude!) If one wants to hedge the current system, one would create an institution in which "banking" is equity only.
As has been pointed out in earlier posts, our education is primarily geared towards producing certified individuals, rather than critical-thinking individuals. Another dominant characteristic of the education system is that it is concerned with turning out folks who work/manipulate behind a desk -- or in a hotel lobby with a laptop -- rather than doing something that is hands-on. In the new global economy, your desk job will soon be done somewhere around the world where the costs are lower. Why would anyone want to sit behind a desk for 8+ hours anyway? The hedge club will commit resources to shaping an education system that includes hands-on activity and real-world projects.
Opportunity, not charity or propaganda. The current system's tax laws either encourage charitable giving or cause (special interest) giving. A hedge club can be structured to encourage members to quit giving to charity and propaganda. Pay your taxes and use the balance to build up equity in a system that builds and provides opportunity, rather than tears down and gives hand-outs.
Anyone who thinks the current system is not sustainable should contact me and make a commitment to help get the ball rolling. Hit the "Email Me" button (above left) and contact me. We can change the course of history this afternoon.
To say we need more skills before we can do anything is usually an excuse. We must keep learning, true, but as we will see later, it is the humanities that we lack, not more technical training.
What all this requires is a shift in our thinking, even though eventually it must be translated into our actions. If we cannot embrace or identify with terms such as radical, or activist, or citizen, our actions will simply be more of the same. Our first order of business is to decide that our deeper purpose will only find expression when we transform the culture and institutions that we have inherited. This is what it means to be a citizen, and to grow up. [p. 90]
...many of us used our education just to build a resume. We got practical way too soon. When people kept asking us what we were going to do with our lives, we thought we needed to give them an answer. Now we need to become clearer on what we are, and what we stand for, not what we want to do, or how to get somewhere.
Imagine a humanities home school or graduate program, with yourself as both the student and the core faculty. I like the term humanities because this is the quality of the world we want to inhabit. It is our humanity that needs attention. I am not necessarily talking about the humanities that higher education currently offers, but the word that captures the spirit of what higher education stood for when it was (and still is in many places) committed to developing the whole person instead of just the working person. The humanities recognize that the ideas we need today have a long and noble tradition of looking to the arts, drama, literature, religion, and political theory for insight about individual and institutional transformation. [p. 93]
The winners in our culture have little capacity to criticize themselves. If we should question the cultural mindset, or the purpose of our institutions, or the role of leadership in our organizations or community, we are reminded quickly that capitalism is the best system ever devised, that our organization has been successful over the years, and that top management has the right idea. There is little room for critique. When we face activists desiring rapid change, we pull back, for they activate our fears of chaos and disarray. This is why we have banished our artists to the fringe of society and tell them to eat cake. It is our artists who choose freedom over safety and use their talent to question and confront the culture. [p. 123]
We need a saving image or role to guide us in fulfilling our potential to create social structures that we want to inhabit. The discussion now moves to the instrumentality of our culture and how it distracts us from the pursuit of what really matters. The dominant archetypes of instrumentality are the engineer and the economist. They represent the essence of practicality and commerce. What is absent in a world dominated by the engineer and economist is the artist. The artist needs to enter our institutional experience in order to create a space for idealism, intimacy, and depth. This section offers the role and mindset of the social architect as a way of integrating the gifts of the engineer, the economist, and the artist. This is a way of thinking about what we might do to both act on our values and have an impact on how our institutions function. [p. 137]
One symptom of our instrumentality is all the talk of wanting more balance in our lives. What do we mean when we say we want more balance between life and work? For one thing, it means that we see work and life in opposition to each other. Does this mean that we feel we are not alive at work? That our personal lives are separate from our working lives? When I am not working, it is my life, and when I am working, it is someone else's life? Is that why I call it work?
This can also be framed as the tension between what the culture has in mind for us and what is in our own hearts. When we act on our own deeper purpose, we pay a higher price, for it often demands that we swim against the tide of the dominant culture. Until we accept the ways that the culture draws us into a life of instrumentality, we will never muster the fortitude to actually act on our heart's desires. [p. 141]
Colleges today are in the business of building resumes, not wisdom. This is not just the choice of the college, it is also the choice of students. The student asks for career-building courses and the institution responds. [p. 142]
The more focused we are on economics and what he [Robert Sardello in Facing the World With Soul] calls the "budgeting of pleasure," the greater the social cost or what he refers to as soul. He is redefining the meaning of progress, trying to move it from instrumental success to a position of more idealism and intimacy. [p. 145]
I want to explore four archetypal images to understand what it takes for us to act on what matters: the engineer, the economist, the artist, and the architect. Each represents a strategic stance, a way of thinking, and a way of acting that brings a set of beliefs into the world. The challenge is to integrate the qualities of the engineer, the economist, the artist, and the architect into our own strategy for acting on what matters. [p. 149]
The task of the social architect is to design and bring into being organizations that serve both the marketplace and the soul of the people who work within them. Where the architect designs physical space, the social architect designs social space. [p. 171]
I prefer the term integral architect. One can start to imagine the wonderful opportunities that can exist for highly creative individuals who have felt lost in the conventional world. MH
The person who names the debate carries the outcome. Many of our days are spent answering too narrow a question. The social architect keeps broadening the question, for this is what engages people and creates room for idealism and depth. Staying with questions of purpose, feeling, and relationship requires postponing the How? questions, knowing that questions of methodology are in no danger of disappearing. They do not need our nurturing since they have culture on their side. [p. 177]
So..., we raise capital for a trust that funds the construction of spa resorts that are operated by independent contractors of all ages who are also students. Spa guests -- roughly 50% of capacity -- are treated to a high level of service and will have access to the various teachers/fellows who are also balancing learning and playing. All parties concerned will be engaged in a wonderful process of exploration, discovery and cleansing themselves of the pollution of society -- at least for a little while.
The problem with Christianity especially is that its living message has become incarcerated within a prison of metaphor taken as fact, symbol mistaken for reality and ritual for its own sake, a prison with bars of coral, slowly built up from the skeletons of once-useful images that no longer point to anything beyond themselves. God the Heavenly Father (who used to be accompanied by God the Earthly Mother before she was edited out of the Gospels) was an originally helpful but ultimately expendable way of pointing at the reality of a world from which we all emerge, and on which we all depend. But the experience of kinship and at-home-ness that Jesus was trying to convey gets disregarded when we start thinking of God as an entity -- or perhaps a team of entities -- real and separate from us, whose creatures we are and in whose charge we remain. God becomes a vaguely person-like projection: external, controlling, creating, and usually male. Having missed the point, we are left with a fuzzy surrogate in which all we can do is believe, and which all too often comes to symbolize not the potential for liberation but the necessity for obedience and the inevitability of guilt. [p.32]
The flip-side of aversion is of course attachment. They go together. Aversion focuses on loss, both actual and imminent. How can I ward off the threat? How can I get back the conditions I so ardently believe I need? Attachment focuses on the problem of how to accumulate and keep those conditions. The first feeling of attachment is meanness. I'd better hang on to what I've got. The sense of mine becomes very important -- my house, my car, my partner, my opinions, my achievements. I feel possessive about what I've got and done. They are things to be proud of. Again the fact that there are basic necessities to stay alive is misrepresented in the game plan as 'the more the better', so a general orientation of acquisitiveness arises. The more I've got, the safer I feel; that is the assumption. The converse reality, that the more I've got, the more I can lose, seems to have escaped us, or if not, to have had disappointingly little impact on the way we actually go about living. [p. 57]
Although they know in their hearts that they are worthless, people cling to life-styles, to ambitions, to relationships, to 'favourite' holiday locations...because they are scared of change and because they are scared of admitting that they made a mistake. They might have to make a decision, and they might have to run the risk of looking a fool. So better the devil you know, right? [p. 108]
If we could agree that for six months we would not ask How?, something in our lives, our institutions, and our culture might shift for the better. It would force us to engage in conversations about why we do what we do, as individuals and as institutions. It would create the space for longer discussions about purpose, about what is worth doing. It would refocus our attention on deciding what is the right question, rather than on what is the right answer. [p.3]
...We might put aside our wish for safety and instead view our life as a purpose-filled experiment whose intention is more for learning than for achieving and more for relationship than for power, speed, or efficiency. [p.3]
Choosing to act on "what matters" is the choice to live a passionate existence, which is anything but controlled and predictable.
Acting on what matters is, ultimately, a political stance, one whereby we declare we are accountable for the world around us and are willing to pursue what we define as important, independent of whether it is in demand, or has market value.
Giving priority to what matters is the path of risk and adventure, but I also believe that the institutions and culture that surround us are waiting for us to transform them into a fuller expression of our own desires. We have the potential to reclaim and experience our freedom and put our helplessness behind us. We have the capacity to experience an intimate connection with other people and with all we come in contact with, rather than feeling that we exist in relationships born of barter and instrumentality. We also have the capacity and maturity to live a life of service and engagement, rather than the primary pursuit of entitlement and interests that focus on ourselves. [p.7]
When we realize, as Jung stated, that all consciousness begins with an act of disobedience, then saying no opens the door to pursuing our own desires. Refusal becomes a realistic option when we realize that saying no is the beginning of a conversation, not the end. We may say no, and the people we work for may say, "You have to do this." That's okay. I can live without getting my way, but I cannot live without believing that I have a right to refuse what makes no sense to me. [p.28]
The question of commitment declares that the essential investment needed is personal commitment, not money, not the agreement of others, not the alignment of converging forces supportive of a favorable outcome. For anything that matters, the timing is never quite right, the resources are always a little short, and the people who affect the outcome are always ambivalent. These conditions offer proof that if we say yes, it is our own doing and it was important to us. What a gift. [p.29]
All together, the Yes questions transform our inquiries into a deeper, more intimate discussion of why we do what we do. They bring us to the larger question, a favorite of large-scale change consultant Kathie Dannemiller: How will the world be different tomorrow as a result of what we do today? This kind of question brings our purpose into focus. It makes us choose what matters for ourselves. If we want to create a workplace that values idealism, human connection, and real, in-depth learning, we have to create this ourselves. We take a step toward these ideals when we shift to the Yes-type questions, questions that are filled with anxiety and ambiguity, questions that force us to put ourselves on the line. [p.33]
Many acts of creativity, even new businesses, began with a decision about what not to recreate. The second wave of computer companies were begun by IBM graduates who were determined to create something different. [p. 34]
What will matter most to us, upon deeper reflection, is the quality of experience we create in the world, not the quantity of results. [p.37]
The most difficult aspect of acting on what matters is to come face to face with our own humanity -- our caution, our capacity to rationalize our willingness to fit into the culture rather than live on its margin. This is true in our neighborhood, among colleagues, and in the workplace. Fundamentally, to act fully on what matters means we are asked to claim our freedom and live with the consequences. The subtlety with which we deny our freedom warrants a lifetime of exploration, but what follows are some examples... [p.41]
Freedom gets confused with liberty (which means we are not oppressed). Freedom is not doing your own thing, but just the opposite. It means we are the authors of our own experience. It means we are accountable for the well being of all that is around us. It means we believe that we are constituting, or creating, the world in which we live. This belief is rare for most of us, because mostly we feel helpless. At these moments, we wish for better leaders, better government, and someone else to create the conditions for us to be free. As if someone else can give us our freedom. [p.46]
Often we become clearer about what matters to us when we are in a protected learning or spiritual environment: a retreat, a sanctuary, a vacation conversation, a workshop, or a coaching experience. In a moment of clear thinking and feeling about what matters to us, we may be determined to act on our insight. But as we return to the mainstream of daily life, the determination can become diluted. What happens is that when we reenter the culture with all of its power, we face once again the commitments we have made, and the expectations of those around us. The pull of getting things done and the questions of How? exert their force. These are the moments when what matters and what works seem most at odds with each other. What follows are ideas that help sustain our intentions in the face of it all. [p.49]
In the barter framework, the cost of the bargain is dependency: We have become so dependent on our institutions and their agents that we think they hold the key to what we most dearly seek. When we think that the only way we can get what we want is to bargain for it, we hand over power to others, including the power to define reality. [p. 61]
Intimacy, like idealism, has little market value. Intimacy can't really be measured and is difficult to price and purchase, try as we might. When you think of becoming an artist (the archetype of someone who is on intimate terms with nature, with ideas, and with the world of the senses), the word starving follows quickly. Intimacy also implies an element of activism, the willingness to show up -- often. [p. 66]
Technology is amazing, useful, efficient, and at times life saving. But it also has the effect of funneling us into a more virtual way of being and reduces our capacity to live a life that matters. For example, it gives me the illusion of going somewhere. Microsoft asks, "Where do you want to go today?" Well, I am not actually going anywhere. I am sitting right here in front of my monitor. For all its benefits, technology increases my passivity, it isolates me, and it automates more than just my work. [p. 70]
In a way, the loss of intimacy in our modern culture is making nature itself obsolete. In agriculture, we have the terminator gene in a seed. This means that the seed is good for only one crop and one harvest. The traditional regenerative power of the seed, as eternal giver of life, has ended. The moment the terminator gene was introduced, the life-giving aspect of nature was ended and now the ability to grant another harvest has been vested in Monsanto and Archer Daniels Midland. [p. 71]
When speed becomes the measure of performance it governs the way we experience our lives as well as the quality of our lives. Speed becomes a reason to settle for lower quality and ignore our desires. A friend, Meg Wheatley, told me about a poet who agreed to publish a poem on a very tight deadline. When she asked how he could do that, he said, "All I have to do is lower my standards."
As an expression of this temporal materialism, we believe that we must postpone what matters until later in life. Young people believe that they need to make money first, and then do what will have meaning. They do this by getting on the "fast track." Living out a set of ideals, doing what I want, making deeper contact with the world, and really engaging those around me -- all get postponed. [p. 77]
If we decide to act on what matters, then we shift our consciousness about pace. There is always time to do everything that really matters: If we do not have time to do something, it is a sign that it dose not matter. If we claim our freedom and risk the possibility of saying no. If we love going fast and speed is our friend, then we need to ask what we are postponing. There is simply no way to shorten the time that depth requires. Any of the values we hold dear wilt under the pressure of time. It is difficult to imagine instant compassion, instant reconciliation, or instant justice. If we yield to the temptation of speed, we short-circuit our values. Ultimately we become disappointed and lose faith in our attempt to bring our strategies and models into the world. [p. 79]
To be a citizen, in the political sense, is to have voting rights, membership rights, and the right to create systems that support, not deny, our freedom. In the workplace we do not have the right to elect our leaders, and I do not suggest this. We do, however, vote with our feet, our hearts, our energy, and our care or indifference toward how the institution fares in the world. [p. 83]
Acting on what matters means that we will consistently find ourselves feeling like we are living on the margin of our institutions and our culture. This calls for some detachment from the mainstream. It means we have committed ourselves to a state of eyes-opening innocence designed to change the world we have inherited. The dominant culture will never fully appreciate the choice we make. This is the cost of citizenship, it is neither free nor cheap. It is a counter-cultural path, treating our work life and personal life as experiments of personal accountability. [p. 84]
I plan to share more from The Answer To How Is Yes in the next day or two. Find out about the role of the engineer, the economist, the artist and the architect.