Sunday, July 16, 2017

The Future is Now: Spiritual Awakening

option3 began as a policy blog in 2012 with the first entry in this blog series: The Future is Now.  A lot has changed since then - not only in the world but in me.  All my misgivings about rationality, politics, and public policy remain in effect.  I began articulating these misgivings in two blogs - one called Governance Failure and another called Arrationality.*  I'm here to push the envelope further.  Spirituality is not a core subject for option3 but it deserves some attention.

Political Activation to Spiritual Awakening

For the first time in history almost all of humanity is politically activism is generating a surge in the quest for cultural respect and economic opportunity in a world scarred by memories of colonial or imperial domination.

        Zbigniew Brzezinskiformer US National Security Advisor2008

There is a revolution occurring in the world today, but it is not fought with armies and it does not aim to kill.  It is a revolution of consciousness...

...The mind does not want to hear this, but the heart rejoices in it.  The dictates of science aren’t so sure about it, but the dictates of consciousness are clear.  Humanity doesn’t need to make another machine; it needs to make another choice.  We need to consider the possibility of another way, another option, another path for the human race to follow.

        Marianne Williamson, 2014 (emphasis added) 

In 2012, I shared the above quote from Brzezinski.  Despite being an unlikely source, he spoke to a profound truth: humanity is waking up.  His focus was the political realm.  However, the rise in global awareness likely exceeds the political into the spiritual.  
As much as I attempt to present the work of empiricists and evidence itself, this blog entry also finds its inspiration in creative and arrational thought.  Finding empirical evidence that global consciousness is rising is difficult.  So I'd like at least to share the work of some thinkers that impacted my view of the subject.

David Icke, Dolores Cannon, and David Wilcock are three unconventional people who believe that global consciousness is rising or at least that a unique opportunity to elevate one's consciousness is here.  These three thinkers are not traditional policy people at all.  Some might call Icke and Wilcock conspiracy theorists - or experts depending on your perspective.  Cannon is perhaps best described as a New Age hypnotherapist.  

Icke speaks of 'truth vibrations' as a set of forces that have begun to permeate our world and to enable us to see beyond the madness of contemporary life.  Cannon speaks of a 'new earth' splitting off from our existing earth.  Human life on this 'new earth' will vibrate at a higher frequency; the people who can vibrate at that higher frequency will find a home there.  Wilcock has quite a similar set of ideas to Cannon's.  More could be said about all three.  Perhaps they do not prove that consciousness is rising but they, in conjunction with others, have me believing that spiritual life on Earth is rising.**  (IMO they all merit some Youtube time.)  

To the extent that spiritual life is changing, all levels of our lives will change - including how we think, how we set policy, and how we live.  So what does a more conscious society look like?


A New Operating System and Concrete Policy

Rapid transition to a regenerative society requires a reboot of our political and economic system to support ecological restoration and the health of the collective.  We can think of this process similar to the design and installation of a new operating system for human society.  Technically, we have the ability to experiment, iterate, and reinvent our political and economic system.  Currently, the inertia of our present social, political, and financial order blocks our ability to envision and enact this metamorphosis.

        Daniel Pinchbeck, Towards Regenerative Society***

You never change things by fighting the existing reality.  To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.

        Buckminster Fuller

Indeed, the subtitle of this section ought to read: Clean Energy, Clean Food, Clean Governance, and the End of Garbage.  Fortunately, the changes themselves are not that complex.  
Clean, renewable energy is closing in on fossil fuel.  According to Bloomberg, the average global cost of solar may become cheaper than coal by 2025.  According to The Independent, solar and wind have become competitive with fossil fuel capacity in 30 countries.  Clean food is all but inevitable.  People in the First World want clean food.  People elsewhere will follow and in some cases may actually be leading in this regard.  I am willing to call that without reference.  

Clean governance is not so simple.  Do we have the sufficient consciousness and (political) will for clean governance?  I do not know.  For now, I have hope that we are on the right path and reference Icke, Cannon, and Wilcock.  People will need to learn to make sacrifices.  One of the first things I learned about policy change from Professor Mike O'Hare at UC Berkeley was that policy change, no matter how advantageous, creates losers.  We may need to learn to have less, to wait longer, to experience less convenience, and, most important, to invent completely new ways of governing ourselves.  None of these requirements are so bad. ncertainty and personal sacrifice are very unpleasant but they make us stronger.  (I'm quite aware that I do not define clean governance.  I am only beginning to address this subject.  More to come.)

Last but not least: garbage.  The Great Pacific garbage patch and the overall presence of garbage and plastic in global flora and fauna is a serious risk to human livelihood in several forms such as ground water pollution, respiratory problems from garbage burning, increases in diarrhea, and exposure to lead, mercury, and infectious disease.****  Perhaps most important is the relationship between biological diversity and the physical presence of garbage and their overall relationship to human livelihood.

The solution to this question seems obvious: the end of garbage.  Achieving this aim is not so simple and will likely involve landfill (and garbage) mining, garbage taxes, increases in recycling, re-using, and repairing, and material science innovations that make all garbage 100% biodegradable or recyclable.  The hardest and most valuable step is simply establishing the idea in the Zeitgeist that we have no business creating garbage any longer.  Garbage is a notion that has found its end.  
To borrow the words of Marc Gunther and to use more nuance and descriptive words, we "want industry to mimic biology, where one species' excrement is another's food."  (Gunther wrote a piece called The End of Garbage for Fortune.)  He is describing a full system, zero waste policy.  

In order to achieve these goals, we are almost certainly going to have to take a step back and evolve at our highest level - that of our spirituality and consciousness.  How else can we sharpen our minds and harden our will?  To quote Einstein, "We can not solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them."


* Policy is succeeding in a few senses.  For instance, we have not had a World War in decades.  The Clean Air Act of 1970 and Clean Water Act also demonstrate relatively recent and quite substantive achievements in policy.  But acidification of the ocean or the loss of global biological diversity again illustrates we are on a very problematic path as a race.

** A highly reasonable counterargument is the following: if global consciousness is rising, why do we see so much stupidity and destructiveness.  My theory is that, while a larger portion of society is becoming more unconscious, a smaller portion is becoming more conscious.

*** Here is another great and slightly relevant Pinchbeck quote from 
How Soon is Now: "To realize the latent potential of our digital communications networks, we would build decentralized, peer-to-peer systems designed to be perpetually evolving, supporting social coordination, making easy and hyper-efficient to share skills and resources.  Politically, we would establish something like a functional anarchy, based on nonviolent Satyagraha principles, to supersede the current system of military and corporate control.  New social technologies would train people to make effective decisions together, based on consensus methods as well as ongoing referendums."

**** The LA Times article The World's Trash Crisis, and Why Many Americans Are Oblivious was helpful in writing this blog entry.

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