I was inspired to write this blog in response to an interesting question from a recent dinner conversation — “How did we, as a global society, get to this point in our evolution?” What proceeded was much discourse around the way things are, some of which I attempted to capture below:
- Welfare rates in Manitoba, Canada, stipulate people only get $3.50/day for food.
- 1 in 7 people globally do not get enough food to be healthy (hunger is #1 risk to health worldwide).
- 1% of Americans own 40% of America’s wealth (a CEO earns 380% more than his average worker not his lowest paid worker)
- Workers’ wages and benefits are trending downward, while profits are simultaneously increasing.
- 64% of kids are bullied at school.
- 40% of Canadian workers are bullied on a weekly basis.
- 1 in 5 women in England and Wales experience sexual violence beginning at the age of 16.
- Severe air pollution in China is responsible for its leading cause of death — cancer.
- Most Asian countries anticipate severe water shortages by 2025.
- US, Japan and European governments’ massive debts have them on the brink of bankruptcy.
- $3 Trillion was the conservative cost of the Iraq War surpassed only by WWII.
- Here is what $3 Trillion could easily purchase instead —
- universal health care for every American
- solar power for all of the US
- a national rapid transit system
- pollution clean-up in all major cities
- universal literacy
- resolving Hurricane Katrina damages
- non-violent training for 10 million global leaders
- new clothing, shoes and school supplies for 10 million children
Did you notice a negative theme here? Have you asked yourself, “Why is that?” This question became the next topic of conversation at the dining table. There was general agreement that although we may be more aware of these negative challenges today, they were present throughout human history. The major difference today is most are now visible to the world through communication technologies, which makes them appear more numerous and more threatening.
However, what also became clear was our human tendency to focus on negative experiences to the exclusion of positive innovation and evolution. Furthermore, such a preponderance of negativity may and has overwhelmed perspective and trapped humanity in downward spirals devoid of creativity and positive experience. Evidence of this can be found in the World Health Organization’s prediction that by 2020 depression will be the world’s second leading cause of disease.
Opposition is a natural part of life. Just as we develop our physical muscles through overcoming opposition — such as lifting weights — we develop our character muscles by overcoming challenges and adversity. Stephen R. Covey
Over 14 years ago, Barbara Marx Hubbard wrote the following about ‘how things are’ and the need to choose our path forward consciously —
The acceleration of breakdowns in our system, such as population growth, hunger, poverty, violence, environmental decay, toxic wastes, the greenhouse effect, and pollution of the seas and soils, are mutually interactive and lead to increased entropy and or disorder in the system.
Some scientists have predicted that because of the rapidly increasing interactions among breakdowns, we may cause irreversible damage to our living system in a very short period of time.
What is almost never noticed, however, is that there is a concurrent convergence of positive social innovations . . . . .
If the positive innovations connect exponentially, before the massive breakdowns reinforce one another, the system can re-pattern itself to a higher order of consciousness and freedom without the predicted economic and environmental or social collapse.
We can evolve toward the positive as quickly as we might devolve toward the negative because of the phenomenon of nonlinear exponential interactions. If the system could go either way, a slight intervention to assist the convergence of the positive can tip the scales of evolution in favor of the enhancement of life on earth. (from Conscious Evolution, 1998)
I agree with Barbara and would further suggest that this convergence of our human duality — the negative with the positive — is the exact nature of what comprises human evolution. In 2011, I wrote a series of blogs about what futurists consider when studying humanity’s ways of seeing and being in the world — From Paradigms to Paradoxes. In essence, the blogs speak to contemporary society witnessing what appear to be mutually exclusive paradigms existing simultaneously, that is, secrecy and accessibility; survival and self-actualization; competition and collaboration; etc.
What has become increasingly obvious to me is this. Only through integrating our darkness with our light will we personally and socially come to terms with our potential as humans . . . to find the lost, to heal the broken, to feed the hungry, to release the prisoner, to rebuild nations, to bring peace among others, to make music in the heart (Howard Thurman). This evolution requires us to begin within from which we then will determine external integration.
What action can you take to bring together one area where you know you are not in balance?