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.
I watched The 11th Hour last night. Just one of several environmental movies recently produced. It is easy to watch the impassioned interviewees -- David Suzuki is an especially talented communicator -- and come away thinking that maybe the tide has turned. However, once you vacate the theatre, take a look around. We have some major work to do.
In the movie, James Woolsey speaks glowingly about automakers (during WWII) making the rapid shift from making cars to making tanks, planes, and all the trappings of war. He believes that the government will play a major role in the shift that is necessary to prevent further deterioration of our environment. Highly unlikely. However, there is no doubt that a rapid shift must take place.
We have to ask ourselves why we didn't take action earlier. What is it about our dominant institutions that did not permit them to take a leadership role? The answer is quite straight forward.
Religion is mostly about faith and dogma and doctrine. None of these are conducive to the change that is necessary to reverse our destructive ways. Religion is also about hypocrisy. Our local faith-based university has the CEO of one of the largest mortgage lenders on its board. He has personally benefited -- to the tune of hundreds of millions -- by his company making loans to people who likely can't repay them. Those who are least able to pay, pay the most. The original policy manual for this faith-based entity did not even permit the charging of interest.
Corporations are mostly focused on profit and are generally hierarchical. Both are mighty distractions when it comes to making the rapid changes that are necessary to reversing our course. The so-called free market has shifted prodigious amounts of wealth from the bottom and middle of society to those at the top.
Universities might seem a likely source of wisdom. However, they have been re-tooled since the start of the industrial age to train specialists, rather than to educate or enlighten.
And of course government is simply the hand maiden of these institutions -- regardless of which party is in power.
A system that is influenced by any of these institutions is literally and figuratively bankrupt.
At the movie's website, I was struck by the label of "Consume Less, Live More." For years, I have been dwelling on this paradox of our current predicament. With few exceptions, why would we want what we currently have? I long for the days when people did not walk around in a daze talking on their cell phones -- and for the days when our horizons weren't marred with the tens of thousands of cell towers necessary for us to walk around in a daze.
So, how do we use technology wisely and create a world that is sustainable? We have to dwell on the Live More side of the equation.
Over time, I have asked myself what it would take to Live More. My answer is no debt, no insurance, no job, no commuting, no possessions other than a few clothes, no cell phones or other distractions, no noise other than the sound of productive building and the sound of nature, no lights to dim a starlit night, no streets, fresh vegetables, and an environment that is high quality. And the company of those who share my concept of Living More.
There are many people who have a handle on the cause of our many problems. Some of these include various groups and individuals in the ecology arena, those who write about the ineffectiveness of higher education, those who draw our attention to the merit of local currencies and the problems with the Federal Reserve System and banking, those who teach us about mindfulness, and so on. The problem is that none of their solutions can operate in isolation. All of these solutions have to be integrated in order to be effective.
Also, I see that a lot of folks are trying to be responsive to our problems by resorting to the same old models that got us here in the first place. Publications that mean well, but sell advertising as their sole source of revenue. Advertising is inefficient and ineffective in the current model, but it is not necessary at all in the locally-oriented model that will dominate in a more resourceful era. There are well-meaning individuals that think that the Wall Street market system will bail us out. This system is part of the problem and will not be part of the solution or will play a much-reduced role.
(Note: To comprehend this post, it will be helpful to read the prior one.)
Who decided that time is money, anyway? The existing paradigm is extremely powerful. So much so that there is almost no one who exists outside of it. There are many well-meaning people in the paradigm, but their mission is to cope with the stress and lack of wisdom inherent in the paradigm. All factions -- no matter how well-meaning -- end up working against one another. Hence, the insidious inefficiency and unhealthiness of the paradigm. The "time is money" paradigm.
One wisdom of the ages is the concept of yin and yang. Maybe it's time that the "time is money" paradigm had a little counter force and/or competition. The "time is time" paradigm. I won't venture to say which is dark and which is light. It is irrelevant. Besides, great doubt equals great awakening.
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.
In The Heart of Buddhism: Practical Wisdom for an Agitated World, I came across a phrase that caught my attention. The phrase was: "the absense of savour that we call boredom, emptiness and depression?" This caused me to realize that what we need to create -- and it is possible -- are conditions and environments that optimize our ability to savour.
I recently completed Heroic Leadership: Best Practices from a 450-Year-Old Company That Changed the World. The Jesuit story is a compelling one. In a desire to "save souls," they created an institution that has been in existence for almost half a millennium. I think that they can serve as a model for an institution that has sustainable development as its desire. Many of us do a lot of talking about sustainable development, but the collective structure of our various institutions makes it difficult to do the walking. The author, Chris Lowney, was in town for a presentation on Monday and a portion of my post-presentation email to Chris follows:
I've spent much of the last few years trying to shape a "company" that would have many of the characteristics espoused by the Jesuits. The book helped me realize that my over-riding mission is to promote sustainable development. I've been working on coming up with a structure that permits participants to walk the talk of sustainable development. One of the keys to the success of the Jesuits -- and the longevity of Buddhism -- is the concept of not becoming attached. I prefer to think of it as shedding the urge to possess. I'd like to promote a way of living that results in a high quality of life without the possession-orientation that so defines this era.
My goal is to create a series of environments around the world that operate in as sustainable fashion as possible. Destination resorts/villages that allow guests to participate in both a Master's program -- hands-on gardening, cooking, playing an instrument, etc. -- and a Liberal Arts program. (We need to revert to a time when liberal arts were more for finding out what the world's all about rather than focusing on getting that certificate and specializing in some mind-numbing job for the rest of our lives.) My strong sense is that a large segment of the population is searching for greater meaning.
The structure would be much like that of the Jesuit system in that a company of "resident fellows" would teach and operate the facility. One notable difference would be that fellows would be independent contractors. My plan is to raise capital from the foundations and organizations that have expressed a commitment to sustainable development. The time is right as groups such as the Sierra Club have come under fire for investing in companies like McDonald's. I, too, am a big believer in free markets, but would like to raise awareness of the consequences of the Chinese putting millions more vehicles on the road. And attract individuals to a more comprehensive way of living.
Visualize a compact "campus" that has world-class restaurants and gardens. Rather than taking a vow of poverty, chastity, and obedience as the Jesuits do, fellows -- women included -- will make a commitment to sustainable development simply by participating in the building and operation of the "campus."
Yale Sustainable Food Project -- Unfortunately, students leave the university and quickly get swallowed up in a way of living that is far from sustainable.
Slowfood.com -- This way of dining will likely be an integral part of the environments described in the above letter.
Levels of Development -- Within the Integral Development community there has been a lot of discussion about why there are so few individuals at the Yellow level. My theory is that individuals are pulled up by the formation of new institutions. For example, Greens have been able to find a home in Universities and at the various foundations that are committed to the environment and sustainable development. (Many of them funded by money made in the Orange era.) However, there are currently no institutions that can serve as a "home" for those who are in the process of developing beyond Green. Now there will be.
Worldwatch.org -- Just in case you think there is no room for improvement...