Why is the world so crazy right now?

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. pexels-photo.jpg

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?  pexels-photo-837268.jpeg

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: pexels-photo-131723.jpeg

  1. Dignity
  2. Clarity in Systems
  3. Transforming Conflict
  4. Softening Boundaries
  5. Spiritual Health
  6. Increasing Shared Understanding
  7. 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.



Tree One: Dignity


Are you confused about what direction to take in life? Maybe you are a recent graduate and you are thinking things through, maybe you are bit older.

Think of this: yoke yourself to the idea that all people deserve dignity.

It might seem that I need to write poetry or clever phrases to convince you of the importance of this, but that’s the thing. It is so obvious that you just get it plainly. You understand it in your feet.

We all deserve to be afforded basic human dignity.

As you think about how this might guide your life, think of all the things that strip that dignity away.

abuse, drug-abuse, bullying, poverty.i-wP9frPh-X2[1]

Think of a person not being able to be the person they are. Think of someone demeaned or threatened because of their race, gender, age, ability, sexual orientation. Just imagine being in their shoes as someone or some thing makes them feel like a lesser human.

The problems are everywhere.

And so are your opportunities to do the work to make things better.

Think of it in terms of career pathway options. You could be a counselor or social-worker helping someone regain basic human dignity as they battle with addiction. You could be a nurse or medical assistant helping someone facing an illness feel whole and dignified. You can be a police officer, who looks a suspect in the eye, and treats them with decency.

You can be a teacher that ensures that every student in the class is respected and given a protected space to grow and learn.

You might not be the richest in terms of your wallet, but the old cliche is true, you will be rich in the heart. The daily work you put in will transform you, as long as you remember that your goal is not to remove the world of problems, but to acknowledge the sacred dignity in each person you serve.

To twist a phrase, you will become someone who has grown a stronger soul.

If you aren’t at that time for a career path, you can still yoke to this idea. It can transform your everyday interactions. The world is full of large organizational machinery that comes crashing down to dehumanize people. If the first thought you have is–and it is more a state of mind–‘I am going to respect the dignity of each person I meet’, the normal confrontations and pettiness subside. People can feel it. They don’t bite as much if someone is respecting them.

It takes bravery, trust, and patience. Again, it is obvious that these things are worth pursuing and developing. It doesn’t mean becoming Mr. Nice Guy, and letting people walk all over you. As every good teacher, nurse, and librarian knows, sometimes, to support the dignity of another, you need to be firm. The important thing is the intention.

This idea is not the property of any political, national, or religious doctrine. All benefit.

Black Lives Matter, Veteran’s Rights, Me Too, Displaced Factory Workers, The Mentally Ill, Prisoners, Immigrants, Senior Citizens. The causes and organizations that focus on dignity run across political lines. Look past the differences and see that dignity is the responsibility of all of us. It’s something worth working on. It is not a fight to win.