It seems crazy, and you know what…it is.
We are living in a time of massive change, and it is sending out warning bells to everyone.
The normal system that modulates change is out-of-wack. When change is moving smoothly, there is a balance to things. There is a progressive element in society that pushes for change, and there is a conservative element that slows it down, and all this ensures that society can absorb change without becoming unstable.
Visionaries and Gatekeepers
Think of it as a balancing act between the visionaries and gatekeepers. The visionaries come in with their wild ideas and iconoclasm, and start painting the walls and moving things around. The gatekeepers put a hold on things. They take their shoes off, dip it in the water first. They ask the questions: Is it needed? Will it makes things better? Will it destroy what we value? And in a democracy that is functioning well, this balancing act slows the speed of change to an acceptable pace.
But now, change isn’t just being driven by visionaries. It’s a larger tick in the universal clock. It’s an-every-couple-thousand-years change. So, all the gate-keepers standing on their walls with their binoculars and loud speakers are freaking out. There are just too many crazy things going on for them to carefully check everything. From this perspective, we can see Trump and his “Make America Great” screams as more of a symptom of the craziness and not the cause. Every isolated enclave in the world is forced to connect with the rest of the world, and they are ready to fight to keep these crazy people from messing with their traditions. They are in crisis mode, and they are trying to pull things backwards. Since they are in crisis mode, they are willing to scrap the functional democracy thing.
This strong reaction and emergency effort to move things back in history sets off warning bells for the visionaries too. When you combine the disregard of democratic systems, you create revolutionaries. They too are willing to fight to save the hard won accomplishments of recent progressive movements. The result is a an intense global environment, where the largest of institutions and the most isolated pockets of civilization are experiencing out-of-balance conflict. Compromise, democracy, civility are out the window. To some extent, Trump’s approach of riding the chaos–blending with it seems effective. Anyone who is trying to accomplish anything from a perspective of solid ground is failing.
What Is This Change?
The only thing that can provide comfort is a broader look at what this change is. Is it the destructive force of the end of the world? Probably not. It is growth. Progress is a movement towards selflessness. It is a movement towards the humanitarian values of equality, dignity, and connectedness. The driving force behind this has been the instant explosion of shared information. On every technological front, we have amazing examples how anyone, anywhere, can access or share information. Injustice is recorded with a phone and shared immediately on Facebook. Knowledge and skills are free from the lock and key of institutions. Countless voices are expressing themselves through YouTube, blogs, social media.
In this miasma of shared experience we have renewed calls for justice, equality, and global solutions to common problems.
What the World Needs Now
We need clear humanitarian tasks that cannot be owned by any particular country, ideology, or organization. Broad no-brainer goals that people can commit to in a variety of ways.
Think: clean water.
Think: respecting the dignity of every human by addressing extreme poverty.
Think: air pollution.
Think: improving world-wide access to health care.
These tasks are not the property of any religion. They do not fall within any country borders. They are not the production of any political ideology. They are just plainly needed. People can use these broad, important goals to reach across boundaries. If the popular momentum is focused on these goals, then cooperative approaches will pop up in surprising ways. The first cooperative effort made by Democrats and Republicans to address one of these common sense problems will provide a new pathway to getting things done. Both the visionaries and gate-keepers can get behind basic problem solving–but only if there is a sufficient push from the voters, consumers, and other cultural producers.
Right now, organizations are focused on achieving dominance. They falsely believe that dominance–rigging the game– will give them the ability to do things their way and not their opponents. Political parties, religious organizations, countries gobble up ideas as a means to build their power; they gobble them up but they are meaningless to them. When ideas become broad enough that they are good for all, they can’t be so easily caged into ideology.
Here are seven ideas–I will call them trees–that can work:
- Clarity in Systems
- Transforming Conflict
- Softening Boundaries
- Spiritual Health
- Increasing Shared Understanding
- Guiding Others
The majority of the posts in this blog will be improvisations off one or more of these ideas. Whoever you are, whatever stage in your development, by yoking yourself to one of these trees, you can find a useful anchor keeping you from being swept away by the crazy whirlpools of everyday chaos. The world is crazy, and taking a broader humanitarian direction in your life can bring the peace and purpose that you need.