We are not called to be apathetic couch potatoes, zombied out shopaholic nihilistic observers of holocaust. We are called to be commandoes of the anti-apocalypse. We are called to be problem solvers, builders of the future, visionary designers of utopia, holders of the light, trustees of hope and the future. Visionaries. Players. Designers. Lovers of life. That’s our job. Here is what we are up against:
Present day problem solving is the attempt to solve 20-year systemic problems with four year piece-meal solutions staffed by bureaucrats with one-year appointments approved by politicians who can not see beyond the next election or vacation—which ever comes first— and who were elected by people who think Fox News and Disneyland are accurate representations of the real world and who think bad news will go away—like Britney Spears— if ignored long enough, and who see adversity as an excuse to go shopping. The best that can come out of this is something that will fail slowly.
Meanwhile, the power structure that is behind all this has plundered the past and bankrupted the future, all for an unsustainable present for the fearful and greed-sick few. That power structure has poisoned our waters, smogged our air, eroded our lands, clear-cut our forests and clogged the oceans with the debris of what some wit referred to as civilization. It has obeseified our children, stolen our savings in the greatest heist and transfer of wealth from the poor and middle class to the rich in the history of the world— while it uses our taxes to mount campaigns of mass destruction, fund unauthorized wars on the world’s poor and bailouts for the compulsive greed of the 1% super-rich. It has no moral compunction about 47 million Americans living below the poverty line, with no access to affordable health care and needing food stamps to feed their children—nor the more than 1 billion living on less than $1.25 per day in the rest of the world. It has stolen our elections, assassinated our leaders and substituted the unthinking dogma of patriotism, nationalism and economic growth for strategic forethought, global awareness and compassion. It sees peace and justice as empty slogans and weakness, and global interconnection as a plot of the devil to limit American dominance— not realizing that that train left five decades ago.
We need to see this beast for what it is. We need to use our tools, creativity, values, vision, consciousness and love to overcome it through a revolution that undermines its greed, destroys its self-centered myopia, and brings a perspective that enlarges, ennobles and engages the higher angels to make the world work for all. We need to make obsolete the basis of exclusive wealth that thrives on the poverty of others and justifies greed in the name of economic growth. We need to stop confusing more with better, money with wealth, power with importance and self-interest with morality. Let’s turn the world around and inside out. Let’s create the society of fun, where the arc of transcendent possibilities crosses and sparks with the here and now. Let’s make the world anew and see it through— all the way to you.
Let’s not confuse
More with better,
Money with wealth,
Speed with importance,
Or self-interest with morality.
Let’s not confuse
Decoration with design,
Acceleration with celebration,
Trend with destiny,
Anticipation with anticipatory,
Apathy with contentment,
Making money with making sense,
Value with cost,
Or the whole with what’s left (or right, or what we know).
Let’s not confuse
What goes up with what comes down,
Or dirt with the ground
Or transcendence with unconsciousness.
Let’s not confuse
Human potential with human being,
Making the world work and working the world,
Or transition with transformation.
Let’s turn the world around and inside out
Let’s make the world anew and see it through to you.
The society of fun,
The children of the Moon,
The design of the future,
The arc of transcendent possibilities
Crossing and sparking with the here and now
In the phone inside your heart, ringing, unanswerable.
The dome of possibilities under the cloud of love, saying
We have to get it right this time.
Peace is a process of healing, growth and development that leads to increased health. What health is to the human body, peace is to the world body. Just as there is health care, the world needs peace care, just as there is preventative health care and holistic health care, we need preventative peace care and comprehensive preventative peace care programs, facilities and personnel. We need peace care for a diseased world that will lead to a healthy peace in a healing world. Just as the body reports pain, the world body needs a similar monitoring system.
Because coercion is a form of violence, peace is non-coercive. Being non-coercive, peace is flexible. Being flexible, peace is also diverse. Being diverse and flexible, peace is redundant, synergetic and able to grow. Being able to grow and synergetic, peace is able to expand, deepen, develop new forms and evolve. Being evolutionary, peace has undeveloped unrecognized and unknown potentials and emergent properties. Being flexible and diverse, peace is able to accommodate and deal with conflict. Being redundant, synergetic, able to grow and evolve and full of potential, peace is a living system. As a living system, peace is information-intensive, not energy-or material-or capital-intensive. Being based on information, peace is multiplied by being divided, not made more scarce. Peace’s abundance is increased the more it is shared. Because peace is non-coercive, peace is non-ideological. Being non-ideological, peace is leaderless. Because peace is leaderless, peace has to be spontaneously co-ordinated, not coercively, centrally planned. If peace is people centered, it is not leader directed. Being leaderless, peace is of necessity based on literacy. Being based on literacy, the more literate the more people are, the larger will the foundation of peace be. Peace is desirable. Being desirable, peace pulls the world toward it. Because peace is desirable, we want peace to grow, expand in depth and extent geographically, economically, technologically, politically and psychologically.
Peace is strenghtened by increasing diversity, flexibility and synergy. These are strengthened by increasing the amount of information in the system. This is furthered by increasing the amount of literacy in the system. With literacy, the individual and community can use information in more powerful ways. To give peace the chance it needs to thrive, deepen and take over this planet, we need to increase the amount of information in the global system at the local level.
Centralized decision making leads to concentrated information and power–the opposite of literacy. When this happens, there is less and less information in the whole system. We need to maximize the flexibility of the whole system, not the intransigence of the power system. We need to distribute information into the hands and minds of those people who will be benefited or victimized by the consequences of any given decision. We need to increase decentralized decision making–that is, literacy, To do this, we need to furnish the world, and the local system within the world context, with a monitoring system to become aware of its problems, alternatives and possible outcomes. We need to make the monitoring systems information available to everyone on earth so peace can spontaneously be coordinated at every level. Peace, like consciousness, is based on a sensory system. Just as intense pain eliminates the individual consciousness and all the dignity, beauty and intelligence of human life–language is reduced to a scream or a cry, beauty and dignity eliminated altogether–so too war and pain in the world body eliminates the possibility of a collective consciousness of humanity.
Seeing the whole is a revolutionary act.
Understanding the context is a source of power. The power of information is in its ability to provide insight for effective action. The more efficient and effective an action the more power it has. The more leveraged an action, the more power it has. You gain leverage, insight as to where, when and how to act, from context. You might be able to learn that something is wrong, that action is needed, from just information— the alarm is going off— but you will not know what, when, where and how to do something —or more precisely to do something effectively— unless you know and understand the context of that alarm. What does it mean? Has it happened before? What is the history, what lead up to the alarm? What are our options? What can be done? What will be the consequences of the possible actions we could take? What happens if we do nothing?
The bigger the picture you have of a specific incident, action, threat, opportunity or idea, the more informed, and hence more powerful, will be your response. The larger the picture, the more inclusive the view, the more options there will be included in your understanding.
Conversely, the narrower the view, the fewer the options. If an alarm goes off and the only information is “alarm going off,” —there is no other information— then your response will be a reaction, a mirror, to that alarm. You will panic. “Panic” being a response to a situation when there is the perception of zero options. (Panic: a logical response to zero options in the threatening situation.) Expand the point of view, enlarge the perspective, see the bigger picture, and understand the context— and the options increase, threat decreases, and possible effective response to the alarm goes up.
With an understanding of the bigger picture, an alarm going off is a signal, another bit of information in a larger context that is part of a whole that allows for the connection of the dots, the “making sense” of what is happening— and the calmly rational choosing which response to give to the alarm. More importantly, seeing the big picture allows one to anticipate what is happening so a response to a possible alarming situation can be dealt with before a situation get critical and an alarm goes off.
Overwhelming complexity leads to apathy. Understanding complexity leads to effective actions. Overwhelming complexity with time constraints leads to zero options and panic. Understanding complexity in the context of the whole leads to effective action and the anticipation of possible alarming situation before they happen.
“Trying to determine what is going on in the world by reading newspapers is like trying to tell the time by watching the second hand of a clock.” – Ben Hecht
Spirits Grow to Include the Whole
“Higher beings include more and more living things within their self-story, until at last, there is no Other.”
—Orson Scott Card, The Xenocide
Do onto others as you would have them do onto you.
“Ethics is knowledge of interconnection.”
Consciousness moves towards the whole. As your spirit grows, the more whole you become. The more we know the more we are. As our area of concern and as our territory of influence expands, more of the world is included in our concept of self. As we grow, we grow from me to we, part to the whole, local to global, self to Self.
The more developed our consciousness, the more concern and compassion we have for others. As consciousness grows and expands, it encompasses more within its boundaries until borders that separate “us” from “them” are transcended and consciousness is boundless. On a more mundane or material level, as technology interconnects more and more of our planet into a single organism, the more we can see our common heritage and connection with all the peoples of the world. The more this technological connection and compassionate interconnection grows, the more we as individuals become— and the more we as individuals become, the more the whole becomes. The network grows to the square power of the nodes on the network (Metcalfs Law*).
In this ever-growing feedback loop the planet transforms itself into planetary well-being and light. The more we recognize “them” as “us” the more we become. The more we see the unity of who and what we are, and see and feel the suffering of anyone as our own, our spirits grow to include the whole. We need to see self-development as the development of the collective Self. The path to maximum personal wealth, happiness, consciousness and security is the path to global wealth, well-being and security. Or in other words, the path of self-development is Self-development.
Spirit Includes, Fear Excludes
As we grow up, our awareness grows out in ever more inclusive circles of knowledge, understanding, compassion, connection, and unity. Ethics is knowledge of interconnection, compassion is experience of interconnection, consciousness is awareness of connection, and unity is transcendence of connection.
The more developed our awareness and consciousness become the more compassion we have for others who do not have what we have, who are suffering, who have needs that are not being met. As we grow in consciousness we see that all consciousness is linked, that we are all a part of one Organism and the health of the whole is dependent on the health of the parts. The Organism can survive the dis-ease, even the death of some of the parts but it will never reach its maximum potential if it or parts of It are diseased or dying. Enlightened self-interest points clearly to making sure that everyone one is connected to is healthy and capable of playing a vital role, their role, in evolution’s transformations.
Once we reach a certain plateau of enlightened self-interest or altruistic generosity and empowerment we want to help, we want to get involved in making the world a better place, we want to do what we can do to improve the world, to join and play the game of making the world a better place than when we found it, to heal, to improve, to evolve the planet and all its inhabitants, to evolve with the planet, to join the great transformation out on the cutting edge, on the frontlines of cosmic evolution.
On the other hand, the more we learn to fear (all fear is learned) the more we exclude others, the unknown, from our circle of consciousness and awareness. And the more we limit ourselves. Fear is always of the unknown, the out-of-our-control unknown that could change our status quo. The more attached we are to what we have the more we are afraid of what we do not control and its potential to disrupt what we have. Given that over 99% of the “known” Universe is invisible, and at least 96% is unknown at this point in time, a fear of the unknown is a profound limitation on what we are and can become. Fear is, at its core, suicidal. It is a limiting of options, of alternatives; it is a closing off to the rest of the Universe and it possibilities.
It is one thing in self-development to work on the self, to nurture our own self, our bodies, spirits and consciousness. This is good. But we get to a point where the hungry soul realizes that it is not enough to just nourish the self. In a world of 7 billion human conscious entities, the idea of creating a paradise of or within ones own body, ones own self and consciousness becomes limited. A world that works for just us is not a paradise, it is a prison. An evolved being, a full self-developed person in a world of poverty and under-development is not just a contradiction in terms and an impossibility, it is such a narrow focus on reality as to make the idea of “self” development a joke. We are only truly what we can become, a fully realized conscious being walking in the light of God when all people in our world are similarity blessed. We only reach our highest potential when all people are members of our society; all the people of the world are fully contributing members of global society. Then the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. A global society where all members are fully functioning is a paradise, a place of unbounded wealth, progress and evolution.
In a society where everyone is becoming linked technologically and through the consequences of failure, we need to be for all, or we are none. Either we make the whole system work, or the whole system fails. If everything in the body is in perfect health, except the heart, and it fails, the entire organism dies. The world is now as interconnected as the human body. We need to make sure the health of the entire system is perfect, not just the “wealthy” parts of the global body.
* Metcallf’s Law: The usefulness or utility of a network equals the square of the number of users; usefulness equals network nodes*2
One of the great and ancient spiritual truths is that we are all one. In today’s world this has taken on new meaning. “We are all one” is no longer just a spiritual cliché; it is now, thanks to the even more ancient and never-ending processes of globalization, a technological, economic and cultural reality as well. The entire planet in interconnected through the arteries and capillaries of our global, national and local transportation systems and by the nervous system of our global communications systems. This interconnection has radically changed the world and will transform it in coming years in amazing, seemingly miraculous ways. Modern technology of interconnection has concretized the spiritual philosophy of the ages.
Ethics Is Knowledge Of Interdependence
The “wisdom of the ages,” we are all one— had and continues to have important spiritual implications that drove moral and ethical insights, standards and behaviors for millennia. “We are all one” as the techno-economic reality of 21st century globalization also has important technological, economic, cultural and spiritual insights and dimensions.
Technology Is Biology
We are all one— and just as with our personal bodies, our planetary body is not healthy if a part of the body is ill. And if our planetary body is ill, we as individuals are not well. We can no longer resign ourselves to complacent indifference if someone “on the other side of the world” is starving— anymore than we could be terminally nonchalant about “only” our lungs having cancer. We can no longer be on the sidelines because there are no more sidelines in today’s world. Not only are there no longer any sidelines, there are no sides if we are all in this together.
We are all one— and we are now part of a global organism whose health, well-being, and transformation is now an integral part of who and what we are and can become.
We are all one— and if the global body gets really sick, we all will feel it— just as the cells in your brain or toe will eventually be impacted by that cancer in your lungs or the stopping of your heart.
All Service Serves Our Self
We are all one—and when we work on making any of the parts healthier, including ourselves, we are engaged in service to the whole. The larger the circle of our service, the more people whose condition we are seeking to improve, the more we are working for the health of the whole. And, the larger the group of people we are concerned with, the more effective will we be. (This is not to say that feeding one person is not effective or has little impact; it is to say that when our actions are in tune with the largest system of which we are a part, those actions will have more of the larger system’s momentum and trends on their side.)
We are all one—and as we work to help the world, we are helping ourselves— both in the sense that as the potential of the whole system is increased with the increased health of each of the members of that system we, personally, are better off; and in the sense that working on making the whole system better helps us learn about our self; plus the process of working on the whole is a powerful self-developmental technique, both from a Karma Yoga perspective and as a methodology for self improvement.
We are all one— and because of our technology this is not just a spiritual reality. We are all one— with our technology and culture and economics and spirits and Spirit. We are all one— and working with our technology and economy in ways that are spiritually based and informed is also working with our own personal spiritual development.
We are all one— and who wants to be enlightened? Who wants to be rich? Working on your own spiritual development and evolution can be in tune with making the planet work for 100% of humanity. Working on making the planet a success for 100% of humanity can be a path to spiritual enlightenment. Working on making the world a better place is also an economic imperative that is in tune with long term economic trends and filled with viable business opportunities.
Personal Values and Planetary Leadership
We are all one— and leadership in a world that has this as its environmental, economic, technological and spiritual basis is both profoundly different than everything that has been in the past, yet in tune with the imperatives of the future.
Summary: The path to self-development is world development. The fastest path to personal enlightenment is to work for the good of the largest system. Self-development and personal evolution is achieved by actively participating in the solution of society’s problems. Solving society’s problems accelerates the solving of our own problems. Solving society’s problems provides solutions to our own problems. When the person and the planet have their interests aligned, maximum personal progress is attained. Working on society’s problems provides economic opportunities that are moral, just, sustainable, peace-enhancing and immensely profitable.
Design is, literally, to take away the sign of something. To remove the symbol, and make real. De sign, un sign, remove sign.
“We are increasingly confronted with problems that require different solutions—the ‘exceedingly complex systems’ that modern sciences cannot tackle.” —T. H. Abraham, Science Magazine, August 13, 2010 p. 760.
Design can be a useful tool when attempting to understand and intervene in complex systems. Learning the design— the structure and function of a complex system, and the role it plays in the larger systems of which it is a part, is a useful methodological tool set. And, when figuring out the solutions to complex problems, so too is the idea of asking ‘what should the system look like?’ If the problem being addressed is a basic human need problem or a sociological problem, asking and postulating what the system in question should be like if it were to meet all the needs that are desired of it is a useful tool.
What is the BIG picture? A picture is a frame around a single view. In photographic parlance it is a single photo, a shot. The big picture is what is outside this shot. The surrounding. The big picture is everything that didn’t fit into the picture frame.
The picture photo freezes and frames both space and time, so that what appears within the picture frame is a static shot that leaves out the rest of the view that the photographer can see when not looking through the narrow view-finder of the camera. The picture also leaves out time. The frozen picture does not show the past, what the picture looked like in the spring, summer or fall—or the future, what the picture might look like after the forest fire, child’s smile or wedding is long past.
A picture is a view of the world, the big picture is a larger view of the world. A picture is what we see, what we focus on and seek to make sense of. The “whole” does not make sense as a whole, other than in some mystical acceptance of “it”, it only makes sense when we look at a part and then see the connections it has with the rest of the world. When we apprehend or sense the world it is always the part that we sense. When we comprehend the world we see the connections that our picture has to the bigger picture of which it is a part. We sense parts through our senses and our mind puts them together in a model replication of the whole. It is the bigger picture that our minds create from the sensory inputs of the parts that they receive form their eyes, ears, nose, mouth and touch. The Big picture is what all this fits into.
The bigger picture is context. The BIG picture is context of the context. The biggest picture is the context that everything fits into. The biggest picture that someone can sense, apprehend or comprehend is a function of the model(s) they use for representing the totality of existence. These models are or can be based on religion, science, hearsay, experience, or folktales. “Creation stories” are big picture cosmologies or models that seek to provide people with a big picture in which to put their pictures and bigger pictures.
Big picture: the larger the perspective the more we are all one. Step back and see our connections.
What is the context for peace? What is the big picture that peace, social and economic injustice and the root causes of poverty and war fit into? How can we use this big picture perspective as a powerful and empowering tool for social change? How can the big picture bring people together? How can the B-P be used to discover creative solutions top conflict poverty and global peace? How can the b-p empower us as leaders?
The big picture is necessary to tie your shoes, and to take a step. We need to know where we are to know where we are going. Trivia needs to be connected to the next thing to make sense. The next thing needs to be part of a model of reality for us to get from here to there.
The big picture is needed to make us happy. If you are sad, the bigger picture allows you to put your sorrow in a context that does not belittle it, but ennobles it. The bigger picture allows you to transcend sadness by seeing that there is something else. Sorrow has a context just as joy. The joke is shifting contexts: taking something from one system and putting it in a new context. Joy is the bigger picture. The bigger the picture the greater the joy. Sadness is the small picture. The smaller the picture, the more isolated you are, the more sad you are.
It’s fifteen years from now. There are about eight billion people in the world. There are about one billion people left who are living at the bottom of the economic pyramid. They are without access to adequate food, clean water, sanitation, health care, education, clean and sufficient energy supplies or a healthy environment. They don’t live in a society where they can make decisions that impact their lives, there is little to no social services, and they are not safe from the vagaries of climate, misfortune or abuse.
The rest of the world— some seven billion people— have reached the collective insight of enlightened self-interest and see the economic mandate to make the world work for 100% of humanity. They decide that everyone will be better off if everyone has their basic human needs met. (It didn’t take them long to reach this conclusion when they saw that the most disenfranchised, those with the least to lose, were growing increasingly frustrated and well armed.)
The world has decided to meet the basic human needs of everyone. You are put in charge of this task.
What are you going to do?
BigPicture Thinking: What is it?
“The only way to understand a system is to understand the system it fits into.” —Howard Odum
“The best way to understand the world is to get above it.” —Socrates
“The problems that exist in the world today cannot be solved by the level of thinking that created them.” —Albert Einstein
“If you can not solve a problem as it is, enlarge it.” —Dwight Eisenhower
“Start all problem solving with the Universe.” —Buckminster Fuller
Problems are solved by expanding the focus, going to the next larger level in which the problem is embedded. The only way to solve a problem is to bring into the system elements from the larger system(s) of which the problem is a part.
A “big picture” is a point of view— a perspective from which to see what you are viewing. Looking at systems with a big picture perspective we find that there is always a larger systems of which the system being focused on is a part— a system, the system of systems. We can also view the system as being composed of sub-systems and being a part of a larger system(s)— a hierarchy of systems.
BigPicture thinking is context; it is at least one hierarchy order removed from the system you are analyzing.
“The idea that solutions can come from anywhere, and from people with seemingly unrelated work, is another key. Dr. Lakhani said his study found that ‘the further the problem was from the solver’s expertise, the more likely they were to solve it,’ often by applying specialized knowledge or instruments developed for another purpose.” —“InnoCentive” July 22, 2008, The New York Times
What to do in midst of information overload: backup. Then, backup further. What system is the problem a part of?
“It is difficult to see the picture when you are inside of the frame.” — Anonymous
“Common sense and a sense of humor are the same thing, moving at different speeds. A sense of humor is just common sense, dancing.” —William James
“Common sense” is seeing the bigger picture. A sense of humor is essential for effective problem solving. Something is funny when two different levels of systems interact.